The OIE Research Briefs present a high-quality, policy
oriented analysis, and in-depth discussions of issues related to Pepperdine. The
Research Briefs are designed to inform decision-making at Pepperdine University,
and to ensure better understanding of the issues that have an impact on our students,
faculty and staff. The OIE researchers use technical rigor in analyzing data that
has been carefully collected and diligently cleaned. The results of the data analysis
and modeling are presented in a reader-friendly format that can be appreciated not
only by senior administration and faculty, but also by students.
List of Research Briefs
Diversity is essential to student learning and equips students with skill sets and experiences that are vital for both professional
and personal development. In Part I and II of this series, diversity was examined from structural and psychological perspectives.
This research brief presents Pepperdine data on students’ direct knowledge and understanding of diversity through a diversity assessment project,
in which students read and responded to diversity-related case studies. Participant responses were scored on a rubric, with scores
averaging at the milestone level, which is the range expected of most undergraduates. Although the averages fell into the expected areas
for undergraduate participants, a large percentage of participants scored in the benchmark category (1 out of 4), demonstrating a very basic
understanding of the concepts. Participants scored the highest in the rubric dimensions related to
understanding and applying principles of cultural diversity and empathy. The lowest scores came in the areas related to social
responsibility and faith. Focus group findings with the general Seaver College undergraduate population revealed that students
perceived themselves to be knowledgeable about diversity, which stemmed from close interactions (living, traveling and studying)
with students who were different than themselves. These interactions occurred in curricular and co-curricular experiences. Findings
from the diversity assessment project help with viewing Pepperdine students through a scholastic lens. Additional assessments can
provide more depth and perspective to the results obtained in this project.
Governance refers to the structures and processes that academic institutions invent to achieve an effective balance between the
two systems for organization control and influence. One system involves the role of trustees and administration; the other system
involves the role of the faculty. This research brief presents data from the OIE Faculty Governance Survey, which was conducted
in 2012 and 2014. Results revealed that faculty highly rated the idea that shared governance is important in order for Pepperdine
to accomplish its mission and strategic plan; and, Seaver College and graduate school faculty reported that their current influence
in governance is significantly lower than their desired level of influence in governance. In addition, Pepperdine faculty identified
five areas that are challenges to faculty participation in governance: systems and structures in place, the perceived value of the
faculty's opinion and contributions in the administration's decision-making, levels of trust between faculty and administration,
communication and transparency in the administration's decision-making, and issues of time for faculty in the current RTP system.
Findings from the OIE Faculty Governance Survey are similar to those from past research, such that faculty view shared governance
as important but feel undervalued in their roles and responsibilities.
Pepperdine is committed to diversity, a commitment that stems from its Christian heritage. Part I of this series presented structural
diversity data for Pepperdine. This research brief presents Pepperdine data on the psychological dimension of diversity, which refers
to the perceived commitment of a community to diversity and support for diverse groups, as well as the perception of discrimination
and racial conflict. Results revealed that Seaver College graduating seniors reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction with
the ethnic diversity of its student body than did seniors graduating from other private and religious universities in the United States;
African American participants reported higher levels of perceived discrimination than did participants from other ethnic groups in
Pepperdine's undergraduate population; and, female African American participants reported having more positive diverse experiences with
individuals from an ethnicity other than their own at a higher frequency than their male counterparts. This brief provides a quantitative
snapshot of Pepperdine students' college experiences and their perceptions of the campus climate. Follow-up assessments are needed in
order to understand in more depth what students perceive to be institutional assets in regards to diversity, as well as areas of growth
for the institution.
Diversity—is important to higher education, but is also a core value at faith-based institutions, whether it is implicit or stated explicitly
in their mission. At Pepperdine University, diversity is one of the five goals of the University's Strategic Plan, is found in the Institutional
Learning Outcomes (ILOs), and was one of the themes of Pepperdine's self-study for the WASC reaffirmation process (in 2012). Hence, supporting
and growing the minority population at Pepperdine is clearly an important institutional initiative. This research brief will be the first of a
two-part series on diversity at Pepperdine University. This first brief (Part I) will explain the components of racial climate and structural
diversity, and the second forthcoming brief (Part II) will present Pepperdine diversity data.
The benefits of diversity to student learning and development in higher education have been well established in the literature. The desire to
move toward a more inclusive environment, with an increased understanding of diverse perspectives, has been in direct response to the changing
demographics and globalization of society. Diversity in the faculty improves academic success of diverse students. In addition, the value of
diversity in the faculty helps institutional efforts in diversifying the student body. Hiring and retaining underrepresented faculty has been
challenging for most universities.
This research brief provides examples of assessment of student learning at Seaver
College. The examples were gathered from program reviews, annual assessments and
a mini-grant. They exemplify the outstanding work of faculty, but even more importantly,
they demonstrate the reflective nature of assessment – the process of stepping back
and thinking collectively about student learning and teaching.
This study analyzes the results of the Alumni Survey for Pepperdine's Graduate Programs
in terms of six primary outcome categories and their sub-categories, which were
scored by respondents according to their perceptions and experiences while at Pepperdine.
The results revealed that Pepperdine graduates report high scores on the following:
faculty interest in teaching and students, overall satisfaction with their degree
and experience, and preparation for alumni's current career. Graduate students'
lowest scores were on preparation for social and civic involvement and exposure
to diversity. Moreover, the average current annual income of respondents was at
$100,000-119,000, twice the amount they borrowed at $40,000-$59,000.
Seaver retained 93% of its first year Fall 2010 entering class, the highest first
year retention rate to date. Higher retention rates mean significant cost-savings
for Pepperdine, improvement in student success, and attainment of the University
Mission. The literature points to factors such as student quality and the development
of a "sense of belonging" as key factors behind student retention. In the case of
Seaver College, we know of at least two factors that may have impacted the higher
retention rates in 2011: (1) student quality and fit; and (2) proactive advising
strategies that included administrative follow-up of unregistered students during
the registration period.