At UW-Eau Claire, every Sociology major participates in student-faculty collaborative research. Beyond the optional one-on-one faculty-mentored research experiences, every student carries out an original survey research project from beginning to end via the Eau Claire Longitudinal Student Survey (ECLSS).
The Eau Claire Longitudinal Student Survey (ECLSS) is an annual collaborative research project undertaken by students in the Sociological Research Methods course (SOC 332) and professors from departments across the university. First started in 2017, the ECLSS is an omnibus public opinion survey of a random sample of UW-Eau Claire students enrolled every Spring. Students in SOC 332, working in groups, design questionnaire modules about topics of their choosing; they are then combined with questionnaire modules designed by faculty researchers in a single, large electronic survey. By the end of the semester, students analyze their data and prepare both oral presentations and written reports of their findings. After the semester is over, the ECLSS provides numerous opportunities for students to develop their social scientific research skills even more—through optional research and teaching apprenticeships.
For students, the ECLSS provides the experience of carrying out an original research project from start to finish and increases their proficiency in quantitative data management and statistical analysis. And unlike conventional class surveys that rely on convenience samples, the simple random sampling procedure used for the ECLSS generates representative data and allows students to generalize their findings to the entire UWEC student body. With the ECLSS, the students’ research actually produces new, scientifically valuable knowledge about our university!
For faculty and for future student researchers, the ECLSS provides a valuable source of longitudinal data that will allow them to learn how the UWEC student body changes (or not) over time. Because the survey is repeated annually, we have the opportunity to track trends in student opinions, attitudes, values, and experiences. As new generations of students rise and historical events change the fabric of American society, the ECLSS will allow us to document how UWEC students change and adapt.
For more information on the latest research findings from the Eau Claire Longitudinal Student Survey, check out the infographics, reports, and stories below.