Meeting notes 2/19/2016: More work on well-being survey

Molly prepared an outline (available here) about the UC Berkeley graduate happiness and well-being  report (linked here). We learned that they did not include category titles in the survey given to respondents (for example, “Satisfaction with Life” questions would appear as a section with no title) and that survey items were not numbered. At UC Berkeley, they also entered participants into a raffle to win a giftcard as incentive to complete the survey.

The overall analysis of the information collected in the UC Berkeley survey involved finding correlations between predictors and satisfaction with life as well as between predictors and depression. For example, they found that the predictor that is the most strongly correlated with satisfaction with life and with depression was graduate students’ Career Prospects.

With our survey (as with theirs), we will be able to compare average responses between groups to check for issues disproportionately affecting members of underrepresented groups in physics. For example, does availability of social support in the Physics Department differ significantly between white students and students of color?

Finding the relationship between predictors and satisfaction or depression will also be valuable in terms of coming up with useful suggestions for changes we can make in the department to address these issues. For example, if career prospects are strongly associated with (un)happiness, we can focus our attention there first to attempt to make the greatest positive impact on the well-being of students in the Physics Department.

Once we have our results, the small committee of data analysts (to be determined) will present findings to faculty, grad students, and undergrad students so that we all know a little bit more about how we’re doing as a department.

YOU CAN HELP by drafting Physics-specific survey items and sharing them with the group (for example, items related to the preliminary or qualifying exams, physics subfields, specific classes, etc…).


Meeting Notes 2/12: Creating the Well-Being Survey

Happiness & Well-Being Survey Tasks and the person who is responsible for them

1) Format draft with all instructions for grads –Kara (and she might delegate)

2) Format draft for undergrads –Thomas

3) Find out: what are the RULES for collecting & analyzing personal data – Mary & Gabe & Rachel W.

4) Find out (from Berkeley report or contacts) how to interpret & respond to survey findings – Molly will read 1/2 and maybe more. email list to look for someone else also.

5) Print and set up online way to take survey -Conner

6) Help advertise & hold down the hot cocoa table –Rachel H.

First order of business:

-any future meeting topics?

  • Prelim
  • Mental health survey
  • -gender neutral bathrooms
  • -mentor/mentee system
  • -find contact info for those who have graduated or left Davis.


Now about surveys:

-exit interview for people who leave, particularly not by the standard pathway

-happiness & well-being report. We already have a survey from UCB as a template.

  • different categories (demographics, depression, succeeding academically)

-our version of the survey is in a shared Google Drive. If you want access to edit and don’t have it (only some of us have it right now), contact Mary.

-canvas seminars & explain mission statement/vision for survey.

  • seminars
  • colloquium
  • first & second year classes

-for rules & identification. Send it to Prof. Zieve’s contact (Lynette Temple for proofreading to make sure the survey is ethical. The ethical question is not “collecting data” but “releasing data.” These rules are complicated.

-Perhaps list who will be analyzing the information, so they know it’s not going straight to a department chair or PI.

-Notes about uniquely identified people being grouped in with at least ~10 people when the data will be presented to faculty.

-How do we pick “data analysis committee” who can see all the results? We think no faculty.

-What are we going to do with our findings? We want to present stuff to “the department.” Who is “the department?”

-Before we give out the survey: we should have an idea of what information exactly we want from the survey? What is our “motive” for asking these questions? We should make this public?

-What are our motives?

  • Generally how happy are graduate students?
  • Does happiness & well-being among graduate students vary among identification groups?

-What are our goals with respect to how strongly we want out statistics to look?

-No intention of publishing this survey in a research journal.

-we could include information from people who have graduated/left in the last 5 years

-different survey for undergrads? Combine?

-Survey-making committee?

Notes from Women’s Forum: Empowerment and Equality

Today I attended Part 2 of the Women’s Forum, Empowering Women in STEM. I took some notes, which I will leave here as a resource for the group.


Talk from Sue Miller from AAUW California:

-While the percentage of women in chemical/material sciences and biological sciences have increased dramatically since 1970, engineering has increased only slightly (1%-12%).  Women’s representation has had a decline in recent years (since 1990) in computing and mathematical careers.

-While women are typically underrepresented in engineering & computing careers, women of color are extremely underrepresented.

-What can colleges do? They can broaden intro computer science courses to accommodate a wider range of previous computer programming experience. They can create research opportunities for undergraduates in computer science. They can send women to conferences for women in computer science. Harvey Mudd sends their undergraduate women to the Grace Hopper conference for women in computer science, and has seen success with this endeavor.

-What can employers do? They can create a clear evaluation system to eliminate bias.

-What can the state do? Invest in better education. Help enforce Title IX. Fund extracurricular activities to expose girls to computing & engineering at and earlier than high school age.

Talk from Clare Singleton from Top Line Management Consulting:

-In outreach, we should make it clear to women that there are both challenges and opportunities in STEM.

-advice to women at early stages in STEM career: always have a plan, so people know how to help you. It’s okay if you’re not sure and you change your mind. Just have some idea/goal/plan in mind. It’s not a forever commitment. Also look for mentors everywhere.

-advice to women throughout STEM career: take calculated risks. You learn from failure, and being brave will turn you into being fearless later.

-focus on people who appreciate your work. Don’t waste time trying to convert the rest.

That’s all the notes I took. If you have any further questions about the forum, feel free to ask me in a future meeting or contact me (my info is public on UCD Physics site).





Notes from DIP meeting 2/5/16

My notes won’t post correctly in here so…

In summary, at this meeting, we

  1. Introduced ourselves to some new members (mostly  undergraduates!)
  2. Talked about the current activities, like surveys
  3. Talked about having regular meetings. We decided one hour per week is good.
  4. Talked about the calendar on this website
  5. Talked about upcoming graduate panel, potential other group hang-outs, and the upcoming colloquium
  6. Talked about having an idea list for meetings and perhaps a google doc where people could sign up for roles during the meetings
  7. Talked about the GSR campaign by the UAW union, as well as other current campaigns by the union (Davis Stands with Ferguson, Boycott Divest Sanction, gender-neutral bathrooms)

Here’s the handout Mary prepared for the meeting.

Happiness & Well-Being Survey for Students

At our January 19, 2016 meeting, a group of graduate students discussed adapting a Mental Health and Wellness survey used at UC Berkeley for use in the UCD Physics Department.

A copy of the 2014 report created by The Graduate Assembly at UC Berkeley can be found here:

UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly Well Being Report 2014

If we are able to administer a version of this survey to UCD physics undergraduate and graduate students, we will have a greater understanding of the effects our program has on students.