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Development of the Questionnaire on Student and College Characteristics

Centra, John A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, College Students, Educational Environment, Higher Education, Institutional Research, Questionnaire on Student and College Characteristics, Test Construction


This paper describes the development, pretesting and modification of the experimental "Questionnaire on Student and College Characteristics." The questionnaire includes 1) student perceptions of the college environment, 2) student behavior patterns, and 3) student demographic and intellectual characteristics. It is designed to help colleges interpret themselves to prospective students. The experimental questionnaire was pretested at eight fairly diverse colleges to select items that best discriminated among the colleges and to investigate the utility of various item formats and wording. The pretest included questions on 14 tentative dimensions on which colleges and their students tended to differ. The items written to correspond to these dimensions were generally of two kinds: 1) student perceptions of their institution, and 2) student self-reports of their activities, interest, behavior, and demographic-family characteristics. Criteria for selecting items in the eight-college pretest were how well the particular item discriminated among colleges, and whether students responded with a reasonable degree of certainty. The paper also considers differences in responses according to the respondents class year and major and concludes that, unless a college is very small and homogeneous, important differences in perception of the college can be expected on both those variables.

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