UCLA Original Monograph Text


Throughout 2016, HERI continued its work as a leading research center for undergraduate STEM education. Former HERI Director Dr. Sylvia Hurtado and current Managing HERI Director Dr. Kevin Eagan received funding from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to extend their NIH-funded work examining the ways in which colleges and universities with high baccalaureate STEM degree production structure, coordinate, and synergize curricular and co-curricular initiatives connected with undergraduate STEM education. Drs. Hurtado and Eagan also continued their work of informing and advancing the data collection and analysis efforts of the NIH-funded Diversity Program Consortium, which aims to “develop, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches to research training and mentoring” ( within the biomedical sciences to ensure greater diversity in the scientific workforce. This initiative re-shaped HERI’s surveys in 2016 with the introduction of 15 new items measuring science identity, science self-efficacy, and commitment to pursuing a biomedical career.

While re-energizing a longstanding focus on undergraduate STEM education, HERI’s team of researchers also worked to expand capacity for working with institutions to better identify, interpret, and address ongoing campus climate issues. We expanded our outreach efforts with additional campus partnerships to conduct more in-depth climate assessments integrating data from HERI’s Faculty Survey and its Diverse Learning Environments (DLE) survey with qualitative data collected by HERI researchers through campus site visits, individual interviews, and student focus groups. Through the annual process of revising the Diverse Learning Environments (DLE) survey, the DLE team added a set of questions aimed at broadening the collective understanding of the experiences of student veterans in college. Other changes to the DLE instrument aimed to better represent the growing diversity of U.S. college students and the ways in which students describe their identities related to gender, sexual orientation, and disability status.

Perhaps the most exciting initiative related to HERI’s ongoing focus on assessing and improving campus climate came in the fall of 2016 when we began piloting a climate survey designed specifically for staff members within U.S. higher education institutions. The Staff Climate Survey shares a number of items with the DLE survey and Faculty Survey. With the expected national debut of HERI’s Staff Climate Survey during the 2017-18 academic year, colleges and universities will have an integrated suite of instruments to measure the experiences with and perceptions of campus climate among all institutional stakeholders. 

As we worked to process data, create institutional reports, and revise the instruments throughout 2016, we also took time to celebrate and honor HERI’s achievements in survey research and its lasting influence on higher education research. We began the year celebrating the 50th volume of The American Freshman, which highlighted findings from the 2015 administration of the Freshman Survey. In the spring, HERI partnered with UCLA to celebrate the life and career of one of its founders, Helen “Lena” Astin who passed away in October of 2015. Lena’s research on women and feminism in higher education will continue to have an enduring influence at HERI, across UCLA, and within the broader higher education research community.

In late May and early June, HERI held events at UCLA and in New Orleans to celebrate 50 years of data collected via the Freshman Survey. At UCLA we celebrated with current and former graduate student researchers, faculty, staff, campus representatives, and UCLA administrators. In New Orleans at the annual forum of the Association for Institutional Research, we gathered with more than 100 institutional research professionals, graduate students, and researchers who have analyzed and published with HERI data.

We completed our year-long celebration in November at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). At the conference, HERI received the ASHE Special Merit award for its longstanding and continuing contributions to the higher education research community. The evening following the awards ceremony, we had the honor of connecting with more than 200 friends and colleagues at the annual UCLA-HERI jointly sponsored reception.

Already well into 2017, we seek to build on this strong foundation of success and expand our capacity to enable colleges and universities to learn more about their students, faculty, and staff; to develop and implement policies and programs that enhance their connections to and perceptions of campus; and to participate in a process of systematic assessment.  In addition to strengthening and growing our partnerships with individual campuses to add greater depth to campus climate assessments, we continue to expand and refresh professional development opportunities for institutional researchers, graduate students, campus administrators, and faculty available through HERI’s Summer Institute series.

We will offer four institutes concurrently in June of 2017 that focus on analyses of social networks, strategies to enhance instruction in community college classrooms, approaches in designing and executing studies using data from HERI’s surveys, and promising practices to improve undergraduate STEM education. The CIRP Data Institute and the Community College Faculty Institute will run from June 21-23 while the STEM Summer Institute and Social Network Analysis Institute begin June 22 and conclude June 23.