One of our projects under Language at the Community College Nexus (LCCN) is surveys of students and instructors of world languages classes at community colleges. When we first sat down to discuss the shape and scope of the surveys, we of course wanted to make them nationally representative. Since we can’t access rosters with student enrollment information, we decided upon a cluster sampling method. First, we identify community colleges across the country by affiliation with the American Association of Community Colleges. Then, using a protocol, we spend time on each school’s website to identify names and contact information for language instructors. In the Fall, when we administer the survey, we will reach out to the instructors to invite them to participate. For instructors who participate, we will ask them to take the instructor survey, and to administer the student survey to one of their courses, which we will randomly select if they teach multiple courses. We piloted the survey instrument earlier this Spring and got some great feedback and results to use in improving the survey. First thing in the Fall we will pilot reaching out to instructors to estimate an anticipated response rate.
Our goal is to achieve a sample size over 1000 for students and around 100 for instructors. Particularly for the student sample, this will allow us to generate estimates on a national level as well as explore differences between students by gender, region, etc.
If you’re curious about where these schools are and interested in some basic information about each school, Tomonori Nagano, one of the project coordinators for LCCN, created this interactive map.
We hope you’ll join us at the ACTFL 2015 Annual Convention and World Languages Expo to hear more about our methods. And don’t be surprised if you get an email from us later this year!
Eric Ketcham is the Research Assistant for the Language at the Community College Nexus project.