PA Launches Longitudinal Study

Phillips Academy will launch its first longitudinal study this Spring to track the impact of an Andover education on members of the Class of 2011. The study will consist of a number of surveys conducted at the end of the Class of 2011’s senior year, their freshman year in college, their college graduation and later in their lives. The first survey will be sent out to the senior class on May 4, 2011, and the students will have two weeks to complete it. Jane Fried, Dean of Admissions, said, “The purpose of the survey is to get a baseline of how students feel about their development at Andover and whether these values will persist or change over the course of their lifetime.” The survey will ask members of the Class of 2011 about their experience at Phillips Academy and the way their academic, social skills and personal values developed at Phillips Academy, according to Fried. “We are interested in learning about the things students have learned both in and out of the classroom, and we are looking to find what those things are, how the students experienced them, and how these experiences influenced their lives,” said Fried. “Later on, when the students are in college, we can test if these skills have had a lasting impact on their lives.” The longitudinal study will also ask students to identify themselves and their background prior to Phillips Academy to evaluate their experience at Phillips Academy and their upbringing. Macguire Associates, a professional researching company, has worked with Andover students, faculty members and administrators to construct the survey. Stephanie Curci, Instructor in English, Christopher Shaw, Instructor in History and Social Science, Kevin Robinson, Instructor in Biology, Denzil Bernhard ’11, and Jackie Lender ’11 worked directly with the researchers to fine tune the survey this winter. Lender said that she and Bernhard have been the liaison between the student body and the adults faculty members and administrators working on the project. Fried said the survey will be similar to other national surveys, such as the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) which evaluates what undergraduates gain from attending college. Fried said that the school hopes to determine how Phillips Academy students compare to the students who have taken these national surveys. The data found in the study will be shared with the administration, faculty, and class of 2011 on a website. The results and feedback from the study will be shared with students and faculty on campus as early as this summer, according to Fried. “I am really interested in seeing what the study will show. I definitely think that the survey will see changes in individual responses because people will have different reactions as they have changed over time,” said Lender. Fried said, “We can share the things we learn from the survey with other schools. If there are certain things here that make a difference, we can also help other schools to create new programs or take different approaches to their work.” Fried also said that comments from alumni who return to Phillips Academy and say that Andover has changed their lives have stimulated the study. “While it is wonderful to hear alumni speak about how important this school has been in their lives, we thought it would be good to find a way to understand what it is about Andover that is distinct and different from other kinds of educational experiences. The survey will show what we are doing well and what we should be doing better,” said Fried. “In the spring we will be looking at the format of the questions from a student perspective and will be making sure that the survey is clear, concise, and will yield good results from the younger community,” said Bernhard. In the 2004 strategic plan, the administration noted plans to focus on researching aspects of the school. Fried said that the goal to understand the significant facets of the school helped inspire the study.