Matthew Inglis, Tony Croft, Janette Matthews, of the Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University, have submitted the following as an interim report for their project ‘Views of graduates on the HE curriculum‘.
The goal of this project is to conduct a survey of recent mathematics graduates to determine their views on the higher education curriculum, with particular reference to its utility in the job market.
We planned to conduct the study along similar lines to earlier HEA surveys which focused on physics and chemistry. The researchers who conducted these surveys used a combination of telephone and post to contact their respondents. Following various discussions with colleagues with greater experience in conducting large scale surveys, we modified our plans, and opted to use an entirely electronic method (emails and a web-based survey).
In terms of question content, we designed the survey to be broadly comparable to both the HEA physics and chemistry surveys, and the MoreMathsGrads project’s survey of incoming undergraduates. Consequently we hope to be able to compare the types of skills that incoming undergraduates expected to develop with the types of skills that they believe that they did develop. We are very grateful to the MoreMathsGrads team for sharing their raw data with us.
We contacted the Heads of Department from 68 universities (those on the UCAS list) to ask for their support in conducting the survey. 54 HoDs responded positively. We then contacted the careers centres of all 68 universities (indicating if appropriate that the survey had the support of the mathematics department). 35 careers centres agreed to assist us and disseminate our message to their graduates, 10 declined to participate, and 23 did not respond one way or the other (after reminders). After two months we contacted all 35 participating universities again asking them to send a reminder email to graduates. To date 17 have.
Currently the survey is still open (we plan to keep it open until the end of February). We currently have 434 responses, although until we analyse these data in detail it is unclear how many of these might be duplicate submissions. Nevertheless this figure compares favourably to the sample size involved in the HEA physics and chemistry surveys (139 and 196 respectively).
Data analysis and report writing is scheduled for March and April 2012.