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…).