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The College Environment Revisited: Current Descriptions and a Comparison of Three Methods of Assessment QSCC

Centra, John A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Board, College Admission, College Environment, Educational Environment, Evaluation Methods, Factor Analysis, Questionnaire on Student and College Characteristics


The "Questionnaire on Student and College Characteristics" (QSCC), designed to provide information about colleges that would be of interest to prospective students, was administered to upperclass students at over 200 institutions. This study provides a better understanding of relationships among the 135 items, identifies dimensions that differentiate among four-year institutions, and compares methods of assessing college environments. A factor analysis of the 77 perceptual items in the QSCC is presented and discussed; student perception and student self-report data from the QSCC are combined with published, objective information about each institution in order to further investigate differences among college environments. A total of 53 institutional characteristics were factor analyzed, resulting in six factors: Athletic vs. Cultural, Size with Cliquishness, Elitism, Activism with Flexibility, Student Satisfaction, and Social Life. Finally, the three methods of assessing the college environment--student perceptions, student self reports, and objective institutional data--are compared by use of multimethod factor analysis, a new technique which removes method variance by focusing on correlations between rather than within methods of measurement. Several of the appendices include additional analyses of items in the QSCC. (Author/PR)

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