#1 in ambiguity: Dordt student confusion may invalidate survey results

B. Autriss

Every student and faculty member at Dordt has recently become used to having the words “Number One in Engagement” thrown at them at every opportunity. President Erik Hoekstra is understandably excited about the good press that the Wall Street Journal results have brought about. But perhaps he and the rest of the administration shouldn’t be so quick to spread the results of the survey around.

After talking with those who filled out the survey, it seems an ambiguity in the word “engagement” caused confusion in students and inaccurate results in the Wall Street Journal’s research.

In typical Dordt fashion, students defined “engagement” as betrothal, instead of the level of interaction and interest in a classroom setting.

“I’m actually really embarrassed about it,” junior Social Work major Christine Van Derstra said. “I’m just hoping I was the only one that was confused. I mean, just one person can’t mess up [The WSJ’s] statistics that much, right?”

But Van Derstra was not an isolated case.

“I mean, when you see ‘engagement,’ what’s the first thing you think of?” said senior Engineering major Phillip Maynard. “I guess I just didn’t think twice when I answered the questions.”

Unfortunately, Van Derstra and Maynard were among a multitude of mistaken students. While it is hard to calculate an exact number of students who misinterpreted the survey, we have yet to come across a Dordt student who interpreted the survey correctly—and we have interviewed more than 379.5 students from varying majors and years.

“My roommate got engaged the week before they sent out the survey, and I kept seeing proposal pictures from people on Facebook,” said senior Business major Alex Smith. “When they asked about engagement, it was a no-brainer. A literal no-brainer, I guess.”

“I don’t think the confusion is as widespread as you assume it is,” Hoekstra responded when confronted with the reality of student confusion. “And I don’t think those students would have responded differently even if they had read the questions right.”

“I would have responded completely differently if I had read the questions right,” Smith said. “I hope I didn’t skew their results or anything.”

This article was taken from the Zircon issue of The Dordt Diamond

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