In February 2011, 572 Tufts seniors and freshmen participated in a national study on undergraduate students and information technology conducted by the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR). Launched in 2004, this annual study surveys undergraduate students across North America about their ownership of, use of, and perceived skill with various technologies both inside and outside the classroom. Tufts University has been taking part in this study since 2007 with the endorsement of the Offices of Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs, and Institutional Research & Evaluation.

This year we are excited to offer a comprehensive package of the 2011 ECAR survey results. Not only can you read a summary of Tufts students’ responses to the survey, but you can also download a copy of the survey instrument and PowerPoint version of the data figures so you can use the data graphs quickly and easily for your custom goals.


2011 Survey Results

As seen in previous years, Tufts students continue to use IT in ways that are consistent with their peers at other 4-year institutions. Remarkably, 98% of the Tufts students surveyed declared their ownership of a full-sized laptop. Like their national peers, they use the college/library website heavily for their coursework. Additionally, the majority of students reported using a Learning Management System (LMS) extensively. A majority of the students also reported a positive view of IT use in their courses and prefer a moderate level of IT integration.

One interesting result of the 2011 survey is the growing number of students who are using productivity software such as word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software in a network-based form where they can store documents in the “cloud” and access them from anywhere, from any device. 1 in 3 Tufts students reported that they use both the desktop and cloud-based version of Office-type applications such as Google Documents. This provides students with more ways to access their coursework and opportunities to collaborate with other people on producing information.

Finally, challenging our common assumption that today’s students are well-versed in technology, a number of students noted that they are lacking in the necessary skills to use certain types of technologies or discipline-specific software. Tufts students specifically indicated they are not very skilled in computer maintenance and graphics software.


Next Steps

After the completion of the 2011 survey, ECAR changed the survey design in order to include undergraduate students from all class standings, not just first-year students and seniors. This design change was the result of a pilot survey ECAR conducted nationally in June 2011. This past April, the 2012 survey was conducted, and all Tufts undergraduate students were invited to participate. Those results will be released next year. UIT will continue to organize the national ECAR Study for Tufts University, share the findings with the community, and use the data to inform our continuing service enhancements for faculty and students.

Haejung Chung, Senior Educational Technology Specialist, UIT Educational & Scholarly Technology Services (ESTS)


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