Survey results will help enhance ASO programming

The Faculty of Arts and Science recently completed the Arts and Science Online (ASO) Student Lifestyle Survey to determine who ASO students are, what their interests are, and why they are doing their post-secondary education online.

The fourth iteration of the survey (the last was in 2018) was sent to all students taking courses in Summer 2020, Fall 2020 and Winter 2021. A total of 496 responses were received for a 29 per cent response rate.

It is important to note that this survey was being answered at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This survey is critically important as it reveals several key facts about our online student population,” says Dean Barbara Crow, Faculty of Arts and Science. “This will allow us to create the best programming to support our students and help them reach their academic goals.”

The five main highlights of this year’s survey included:

  • The student demographic is getting younger (the largest age group is 30-34, down from 35-45 in 2018), there is an increase in those that are full-time students, a decrease in those that are working full-time, and a decrease in the percentage of students with children.
  • There is an increase in percentage of degree students. The largest portion of students are now pursuing a degree, as opposed to being “interest” students. The fact that the proportion of degree students has increased indicates that those students that were previously interest students are in fact progressing through to the degree program. Almost all interest students indicated that they plan to progress on to a degree program
  • Psychology continues to be the most popular degree option for ASO students. Global Development Studies is increasing in popularity and had the highest increase from 2018 to become the second most popular degree program.
  • Even though the student demographic has gotten younger, older students are taking courses for interest or leisure have increased and many are looking for opportunities to help fund their education efforts. The survey revealed an increase in the percentage of retirees.
  • A significant number of respondents (18 per cent) indicated directly that the pandemic influenced their decision to begin online learning. Given the increase in younger students and those without previous post-secondary school experience, it is likely that the pandemic influenced the decision to begin online learning for a higher proportion of students than directly reported in the survey. Several other respondents gave other answers, such as being laid off or unemployed, which may also be related to the pandemic.

“Now that we have the data in hand, we can further investigate the findings and start enhancing our services and supports to better meet their needs,” says Wanda Beyer, Director, Arts and Science Online (ASO). “This information is critical to building the success of the program as it identifies FAS online students and how we can continue to enrich their experience with Arts and Science Online."

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