Western Educational Longitudinal Study (WELS)
The Office of Survey Research (OSR) develops and administers the Western Educational Longitudinal Study (WELS), including:
- Freshmen Baseline and Second-Year Surveys
- Transfer Baseline Survey
- Undergraduate Exit Survey
- Graduate Exit Survey
- Alumni Survey
Combined with university admission and registrar data, these longitudinal surveys paint a broad picture of the Western experience from enrollment through a year or two after graduation. The purpose of the WELS is fourfold:
- To assess student needs based upon their self-reported characteristics, perceptions, and concerns;
- To provide data that can be used to assess academic and co-curricular programs;
- To provide baseline entry data that can be used as statistical controls in analyses that offset the inability to conduct randomized studies; and
- To maintain an ongoing record of student knowledge acquisition, ability levels, and other general education outcomes to address concerns of accountability and accreditation. Unlike national studies, the WELS survey instrument can be tailored to fit Western’s needs, including, if needed, a replication of national survey questions to make direct comparisons with other institutions.
Research that does not fit within the WELS series, such as special topic surveys or focus-groups, or surveys of faculty or staff are handled by OSR at the request of the provost.
OSR uses a mixture of on-line and telephone survey and focus-group methodologies.