Research Briefs

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 Part III October 2016

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.


Faculty Governance April 2015

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.


Diversity Part II September 2014

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 Part I November 2013

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.


Student Learning: Some lessons learned April 2013

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.


Alumni Survey Results for Pepperdine University's Graduate Programs January 2013

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 2010-11 Retention Shows Significant Improvement January 2012

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.