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Allen Hall (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

The Emerald announced its collaboration with a School of Journalism and Communication class for an information needs assessment report in October 2018, and the results are finally in.

An information needs assessment report is the analysis of a community's media landscape, through interviews and surveys, for the purpose of understanding the information gaps and media relationships within a specific community.

The SOJC class was responsible for facilitating the information needs report, with the Emerald’s participation limited to survey input and distribution. The Emerald’s goal for the collaboration was to use the reported data to learn more about its audience and campus community in order to improve the publication’s coverage and distribution.

The information needs assessment report included 72 respondents and focused on three student groups: non-traditional, first generation and international students. Here are some of the key findings from the survey results:

Non-traditional student group

Thirty one students identified as “non-traditional.” The students responsible for conducting surveys with non-traditional students used UO definition of a non-traditional student: “You may be a non-traditional student if you are over the age of 24, married, divorced, or partnered, work full-time, have children and/or family members to support, returning to or starting college after a break, changing careers, a veteran of the armed forces, have independent financial status, or have transfer admission status.”

Key findings:

1. The report mentioned that some surveyed students indicated a lack of relevant coverage for non-traditional students

The report indicated “Many of the students at the University who are non-traditional have slightly different worries from other traditional students. Unlike traditional students, non-traditional students have additional stressors and don’t always feel well represented on campus. Some of these include housing, stress, transportation, money and having to take care of others.” As a result, the Non-traditional Student Union (NSU) has been the main avenue for information and resources for non-traditional students. 

2. The survey respondents indicated that the issues they care about most and/or the issues they would like more information about our housing affordability, mental health, academic advising/resources and business opportunities.

According to the report, “These students are also highly concerned with the issues that affect them, like housing costs and education for their children. But they also care about issues that affect the community at large, such as homelessness, social injustice, racism, sexism, as well as issues within the courts and legal system.” 

First-generation student group

Thirty one identified as First-generation students. The students responsible for surveying this student group defined first generation as “students who are the first in their family to attend college.” An important distinction in the report reads, “First generation students, according to the UO’s non-traditional student union, may also be considered non-traditional if they identify that way,” meaning some of these responses overlap with the non-traditional student section.

Key findings:

1. Similar to non-traditional students, first-generation students would like to see more coverage on academic advising and housing.

The report reads: “In regards to academic advising, non-traditional students in general, and first-generation students, in particular, have different needs than do traditional students. Some first-generation students have families, others have full-time jobs, but almost all indicated that academic advising tailor to their needs was something they’d like to see.” 

2. The report indicated that a “vast majority” of the first-generation students came from in state, with most of them growing up “in close proximity to the University of Oregon.”

The report went on to explain that, because of the localized nature of the surveyed students, most of the first-generation students knew of and interacted with the Emerald, in addition to other local news outlets.

International Student group

Twenty three students identified as International students. The students responsible for conducting surveys with international students used the University’s definition of an international student: “Any student who is not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the United States is considered an international student. International students usually need an F-1 or J-1 visa to study in the United States.”

Key findings:

1. International students, as the report highlights, receive information from their mobile device via email and social media, with Facebook being the most popular platform.

The report went on to mention that the social media habits of international students differ from the social media habits of America students: “Though Twitter may be a very popular method of information sharing among Americans, only 13 percent of surveyed international students reported getting important community information from Twitter. Meanwhile, 63 percent noted that they hear about this kind of information from emails or newsletters, the most common response, followed closely by Facebook.”

2. Just like the non-traditional and first-generation student, international students indicated they would like to see more information about academic advising. 

The report read: “Nearly half of the international students surveyed noted the importance of information about academic advising. Considering the fact that the majority of international students we surveyed have been at the UO for less than two years, many may not be as well acquainted with the process and importance of academic advising as well as the resources available to them.” Each student group identified academic advising as the topic they would like more coverage on.

Please keep in mind that the surveys were conducted by students for students. This is not an official UO survey and the results may not be representative.

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