Acquisition, Discovery and Application of Knowledge

Educational Impact and Integrity


Core Component 4c: The organization assesses the usefulness of its curricula to students who will live and work in a global, diverse and technological society.
Core Component 4d: The organization provides support to ensure that faculty, students, and staff acquire, discover, and apply knowledge responsibly.

The previous sections have included descriptions of the University’s main efforts to hear from students and alumni about their impressions of the impact of a University of Michigan education on them and on their lives, including the University’s 2008 survey of graduating seniors, our 2009 survey of alumni, and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). To speak to the usefulness of the University’s curricula, in this section we will highlight the feedback we’ve received from students and alumni about the overall quality of the educational experience. We will also touch on their responses to items specific to their ability to live and work in a global, diverse, and technological society. In addition to data from the surveys mentioned above, we will draw upon information from instruments not yet mentioned in the report, such as the “Survey of Doctoral Recipients” and the University Career Center’s First Destination Survey. In addition, we will touch on institutional rankings, school and college advisory boards, and some of the important feedback we received from alumni and donors who participated in a series of focus groups as part of the University’s preparations for the reaccreditation review.

Survey Instruments

Graduating Senior Survey

The survey of graduating seniors that the University conducted in the spring of 2008 was described in the section on Future (see summary report and full report). Of the 4,950 seniors the University invited to participate, 1,673 of them chose to respond, for a 34% response rate. The survey posed questions about students’ career and graduate school plans; acquired skills; debt and costs; and research, international, and community service experiences.

With respect to their educational experiences, most respondents (87%) reported having gained research experience through their coursework, lab work, or participation in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. About 70% of the respondents studied a foreign language for more than three terms, 75% had enrolled in a class with an intentional focus, and just over 50% traveled abroad as undergraduates. The vast majority (83%) of respondents also participated in some kind of community service or outreach activity.

With respect to their immediate and future plans, of the 60% of respondents who said they planned to work right after graduation, half of them (or 30% of the total) had secured a job by the time they completed the survey. Compared to the 89% who expressed plans to get an additional degree at some point, another 33% of respondents were headed to graduate or professional school right away.

With regard to respondents’ perceptions about how well their University experiences had prepared them for life after graduation, there were several key findings (see figure below). The respondents said the University helped them, in particular, to improve their intellectual skills, particularly critical thinking, and their ability to apply knowledge from their majors, acquire new skills on their own, and to judge the value of information. Responding seniors were also very positive about their ability to work in teams, and their ability to get along with people from all backgrounds. The respondents also indicated that the University prepared them live and work in a global, diverse, and technological society.

How well did the university prepare you to: (n=1535)

College Senior Survey

As mentioned earlier in this report, in the spring of 2008 the Division of Student Affairs conducted the College Senior Survey for the second year in a row, with plans to administer it annually. This survey is a complement to the First Year Student Survey the University has administered for many years through the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP). The College Senior Survey asks students about their college experiences, including whether they feel prepared to live and work in a global, diverse, and technological society.

With respect to survey items related to students’ ability to live and work in a diverse society, results of the University’s 2008 survey of graduating seniors show that the majority of graduating students socialized with someone of a different racial or ethnic group (55.7%), took an ethnic studies course (58.3%), or had a roommate of a different race or ethnicity (58.9%). In addition, some respondents participated in a racial or ethnic student organization (24.1%). With regard to the students’ satisfaction with their University experience, most respondents were also satisfied with leadership opportunities (72.2%), the relevance of their coursework to their future career plans (62.6%) and career counseling (50.5%), and 43.5% were satisfied with the University’s job placement services for students. With regard to the degree to which the respondents felt they had acquired knowledge and skills since high school, substantial portions of the respondents reported “much stronger” skills in the areas of critical thinking (49.8%), preparedness for graduate education (42.2%) or employment (36.7%), knowledge of people of difference races or cultures (34.6%), and understanding of global issues (29.4%). In addition, some said that their professors frequently provided them with opportunities to apply their classroom learning to “real-life” issues (20%). Overall, over 90% of the respondents said that if they could make their college choice over again, they would enroll at the University of Michigan.

National Survey of Student Engagement

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is administered periodically by the Office of Budget and Planning to freshmen and seniors in an effort to gauge students’ experiences in college, inside and outside the classroom. In 2003, approximately 750 University freshmen and seniors participated in the survey. Overall, the respondents were quite satisfied with their educational experiences. Compared to the survey averages at similar research universities and all participating institutions, University of Michigan students gave significantly higher ratings to their experience. Specifically, 51% seniors and 43% of freshmen reported that they had an “excellent” educational experience at the University. An additional 47% of freshmen and 39% of seniors had a “good” education experience. More than 85% of seniors and freshmen stated that they would “definitely” or “probably” enroll at the University of Michigan if they were to start over again.

University Alumni Survey

In spring of 2009, the University conducted a survey of six cohorts of undergraduate alumni: The classes of 2004, 2005, and 2006, representing a 3-5 year timeframe since graduation, and the classes of 1998, 1999, and 2000, representing a 9-11 year timeframe. Just over 3,000 alumni chose to participate, who appear representative in their distribution across the schools and colleges from which they graduated (see 2009 Alumni report). After 9-11 years out, 86% of the University of Michigan alumni respondents were employed. Of this group, over half of them worked in private industry (56%), about 19% worked in the public sector, and 17% worked for private non-profit organizations. Another four percent were self-employed or working in their own businesses.

When asked to assess how well the University prepared them for their chosen career, respondents reported positively, with 85% saying “very well” or “generally well” (see below). This positive assessment was true among both groups of alumni, those who graduated more recently as well as those who had been out about a decade.

Preparation for Career (n=2379)

Similarly, when alumni who had continued with further study were asked about the preparation provided by the University, 87% reported that they were well prepared for graduate or professional school (below).

Preparation for Graduate/Professional School (n=1749)

Focus Groups with Alumni, Parents, and Donors

Out of a commitment to hear from the University’s constituencies as part of its preparations for the reaccreditation review, the Accreditation Team convened multiple discussion groups of University parents, alumni, and donors. Discussion topics included internationalization; outreach and service; research, professional, and creative activities; and student learning. People in these discussion groups responded to questions about the involvement of undergraduate students in research and creative activities, ways the University should prepare its student to become global citizens, and how best to integrate international and intercultural dimensions into the curriculum.

Among other items, the parents commented positively on the University’s effect on their children’s ability to choose a career direction, be global citizens, develop social skills, engage in leadership, receive both a practical and broad education, and experience the rewards of being involved directly in research. The alumni discussion group on research, professional, and creative activities commented on the importance of students being constructively engaged, having their viewpoints challenged and exploring new ones, learning through hands-on activities, being informed about faculty members’ activities outside the classroom, making professional connections with faculty members, and benefitting from the overall package of what students learn during their time at the University. In discussions with donors on the same topic, discussion participants commented enthusiastically on the research experiences their children had as University undergraduates. A number of them offered specific examples of the benefits their children received, including winning an award, how committed the faculty members were, the interdisciplinary nature of the work, the opportunity to interact with faculty, and the ways in which the students’ involvement in research grounded them for the entire University experience. Other benefits mentioned were the chance to connect with prestigious professors, the effect of research opportunities on the University’s ability to recruit high quality undergraduates, and the ways in which such involvement transforms students’ perceptions and their career plans.

Survey of Doctoral Recipients

Each year the Rackham Graduate School solicits the views of its students who are completing their doctorates to learn about the quality of their academic and student life during their time at the University. Rackham then groups their responses into multi-year cohorts by the four divisions: Biological and Health Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, Social Sciences, and Humanities and the Arts. For the cohort of doctoral graduates who completed their degrees between August 2003 and April 2008 (the 2004-2008 cohort), the overall response rate was 61% (from a total of 3,642 doctoral recipients during this time period).

Responses of the cohort to the question, “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your experience in graduate school at U-M?”, show that a strong majority of doctoral recipients (80%) expressed satisfaction with their experience, and only a very small percentage (4%) said they were dissatisfied. Below is a table that shows responses from this cohort to the same question by division, which reveals only minor differences.


Biological and Health Sciences

Physical Sciences and Engineering

Social Sciences

Humanities and the Arts
















No Response





These results show strong levels of overall satisfaction among recent doctoral recipients. Comparisons with the 1999-2003 cohort show slightly higher levels of overall satisfaction among doctoral recipients in the 2004-2008 cohort (e.g., 76% satisfied and 6% dissatisfied in the 1999-2003 cohort).

First Destination Survey

Each year, six to nine months after commencement, the University Career Center administers its First Destination Survey to recent graduates from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and to the Schools of Education, Music, Theatre & Dance, Nursing, and Social Work. These schools participate in this survey because they do not conduct a first destination survey of their own. The survey, which elicits on average about a 35% response rate, helps the University to better understand what students have chosen to do following graduation. The survey questions address issues such as each respondent’s chosen field, geographic location, career potential and continuing education. The resultant data is shared with individual departments, employers, students, and the media.

Advisory Groups

Central administrative offices and the schools and colleges have various advisory boards to communicate with and hear from current students, and from employers and people who have a vested interest in the nature and quality of the education that our students are receiving to prepare them for future employment and life activities. A few examples of advisory groups that provide students with an important voice in working to continually improve the University’s education and experience for students are below.

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

The college provides students in the LSA Student Government with the opportunity to help enhance the undergraduate experience through housing the organization in a new, permanent office in the college’s largest classroom complex, and through active collaboration with several LSA Student Government groups, including those below.

  • The Academic Affairs Committee within LSA Student Government provides students a means for communicating with the dean’s office and the possibility to enhance the academic experience for the college’s students. This committee works on a variety of projects, including collaborating with faculty members on theme semesters, integrating the academic and campus climates, encouraging dialogue between students and faculty members on academic issues, and fostering communication with the Career Center. The Student Advisory Board, a subcommittee, works with LSA’s Office of Instructional Support Services to improve classroom facilities, tools, and technology.
  • The Student Advisory Panel to Academic Advising serves to improve the quality of undergraduate advising services and brings the specific concerns of students to relevant administrators. In fulfilling its mission, the panel often collaborates with academic departments, the Newnan Advising Center, the Career Center, concentration advising, and the Office of New Student Programs.

Ross School of Business

The Ross School of Business has numerous advisory groups that help to connect students, faculty, and staff so they can work together in the interest of students. Two examples are:

  • The Student Government Association (SGA) represents the needs and interests of all Ross School students through involvement in the school’s decision-making, with the goal of protecting student’s rights and driving positive change by helping to ensure that students and graduates acquire the skills and aptitudes that will position them to meet the needs of employers and other external constituencies.
  • The Ross Leadership Initiative offers distinctive action-based learning programs that immerse students in real-world contexts to apply the analytical skills they learn in the school’s broad-based management curriculum. A Student Advisory Board made up of MBA students who are passionate about leadership and leadership development help to guide this initiative. The goal is to prepare students to lead globally diverse teams, consider the role of business in society, and build organizational cultures that foster innovation.

College of Engineering

The College of Engineering has several advisory groups that include or are made up of students, a few of which are described below:

  • The University of Michigan Engineering Council (UMEC) represents and connects College of Engineering students, engineering societies, and other members of the college community. Through the activities of its committees, UMEC links students to the educational environment in ways that benefit the future careers of all engineering students. For example, the Leadership Committee holds regular workshops and retreats to teach leadership skills and improve collaborative efforts between UMEC member societies and the College of Engineering. In addition, the Student Affairs Committee organizes events and meetings to connect students, faculty, and staff and to provide open forums where students can pose questions of deans, department chairs, and other leaders in the college. First year engineering students are represented through the Freshman Council Subcommittee, to which the college provides dedicated resources. Other committees organize service events to promote community service and social action among all engineering students.
  • The Undergraduate Student Advisory Board (USAB) provides a voice for undergraduate students regarding academic, social, and campus community issues. The USAB facilitates the engagement of undergraduate students in the improvement of their living and learning environments by working closely with the college administration, with student societies and groups, and with University and college offices to identify and implement solutions to critical problems. The board is sponsored by the dean’s office, but is independent. Student Involvement on

Other Advisory Groups

In addition to advisory groups established by the schools and colleges, advisory groups also exist at the central administration level (provost and other executive officers), often with a more outward focus on societal needs.

Institutional Rankings

The University of Michigan receives high marks from publications and organizations that have methodologies in place to rank universities, as shown by the example rankings below:

The Office of Budget and Planning provides a summary of the University’s institutional rankings for the University overall and for its departments. Most of this information is from sources that use the results of surveys of university administrators and/or the faculty as the basis for rankings of academic reputation of institutions and programs. This indicator of academic quality is commonly used by publishers of college rankings.

Intellectual Responsibility

The section on Mission described many policies that also apply to matters of intellectual integrity addressed in this section of the report. Below we will highlight key University policies that are related to the University’s expectations for its faculty and students to act with academic integrity; we will also describe the general process by which the University identities and resolves questionable actions, instances of noncompliance, and policy violations. We end this section with a focus on resources for educating, resolving, monitoring and, where necessary, disciplining members of the community in such situations.

Policy Statement on the Integrity of Scholarship

Integrity in scholarship and teaching is a fundamental value upon which the University is founded. The Policy Statement on the Integrity of Scholarship describes the principles underlying the University’s commitment to integrity in scholarship. It emphasizes the responsibilities of faculty, staff, students, and administration in this regard, and describes major offenses in misconduct. It also includes the companion “Procedures for Investigating Allegations of Misconduct in the Pursuit of Scholarship and Research.”

As stated in the policy, it is a fundamental responsibility of members of the University community to maintain the trust of the public, to effectively address cases of academic misconduct, and to preserve the University’s high standards of scholarly integrity, and, in this way, its reputation. Misconduct in the pursuit of scholarship and research includes the fabrication of data, plagiarism, abuse of confidentiality, falsification in research, dishonesty in publication, deliberate violation of regulations, property violations, failure to report observed major offenses, or taking punitive action against an individual for having reported alleged major offenses. The procedures document provides the steps that the University takes when an alleged case of misconduct surfaces.

Academic and Professional Integrity

The Rackham Graduate School’s Academic and Professional Integrity Policy applies to all Rackham students, who make up half of all graduate and professional students at the University. This policy articulates the key principle that a clear sense of academic honesty and responsibility is fundamental to the University’s scholarly community and that, to this end, the University expects its students to demonstrate honesty and integrity in all their academic activities. Students do so by maintaining high standards of conduct while engaged in course work, research, dissertation or thesis preparation, and other activities related to academics and their profession.

The policy also describes some of the key roles that graduate students hold: scholar/researcher, teacher, supervisor of employees, representative to the public (of the University, the discipline, and/or the profession), professional colleague, and provider of client services. Because students take on multiple roles in multiple settings, some types of conduct are both academic and professional in nature--hence, the inclusive nature of the policy. The policy also emphasizes the responsibilities that faculty members and administrators have for holding students accountable for the high standards of integrity the policy articulates, and for serving as role models in this regard. This expectation applies in courses and in all research settings.

Offenses against the standards of academic integrity include cheating; plagiarism; falsification or improper representation of data; dishonesty in publication; abuse of confidentiality; misuse of academic records, computer facilities, human subjects, or vertebrate animals; illegally or carelessly obtaining, using, or providing dangerous substances; obstruction of academic activities; attempting, aiding, or abetting academic misconduct; and other forms of academic misconduct that are commonly accepted within the scientific community. Finally, the policy states that violations of these important standards may result in serious consequences for students, including immediate disciplinary action and future professional disrepute.

The policy refers to the companion “Procedures for Reporting and Investigating Allegations of Academic and Professional Misconduct by Graduate Students.”

Other Honor Codes or Academic Integrity Policies

All schools and colleges have honor codes and/or integrity policies in place that are available online; a summary list is maintained on a website managed by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.

Act with Integrity and Responsibly

To ensure that the University’s faculty, staff, and students act with integrity and responsibly, a multi-layered system is in place for identifying and responding to questionable activities, alleged instances of non-compliance, or alleged violations of policy. There are five basic stages in this process:

  1. Information arises about a questionable activity, a possible point of non-compliance, or a possible violation of University policy. The sources of such information can include an individual who discovers an unintended or uninformed point of non-compliance and brings it to the attention of another person (e.g., a supervisor, unit head, or compliance officer). In other cases, someone files a concern or complaint about a faculty or staff member, or about a University unit or office. In yet other cases, the information may come from a person or entity outside the University. Although the University considers talking to one’s supervisor as an important first-line approach for reporting questionable activities, it also provides the means for people to raise such concerns anonymously. The University offers a compliance hotline (by telephone or online), which provides an anonymous online option for reporting allegations of hate crimes or bias incidents, and also an anonymous online reporting mechanism for concerns about possible noncompliance with University policies for the humane care and use of laboratory animals. On its Compliance Hotline site, the University also refers people to offices on campus to which people should direct other types of concerns.
  2. Gathering information and assessing the situation. The appropriate person, group, or office at the University gathers more information to assess the circumstances and decide on appropriate next steps, possibly working in triage with others at the University. Assessing the degree of potential risk in the situation (e.g., to a person, to people, or to one or more animals) is a crucial factor at this point in the process. Whether and to what degree people or animals are at risk will determine the speed and aggressiveness with which the person or office will take action steps to resolve the situation.
  3. Resolving the situation. When it is decided that the situation warrants follow-up, the appropriate person, group, or office, often in conjunction with others, takes the necessary steps to resolve the situation.
  4. Monitoring the situation and addressing systemic issues. Where warranted, the appropriate person, group, or office monitors the situation to be sure it is fully resolved and is unlikely to reoccur, and also addresses any systemic issues. This stage of the process may involve notifying others who may be or have been affected, educational efforts for persons or the unit, taking steps to address procedures or policies at the University that may have contributed to the problem, or putting limits into place.
  5. Taking disciplinary action. Due to the significant emphasis the University places on identifying and resolving questionable activities and instances of noncompliance, it is only in very rare cases that issues of noncompliance (generally when they are serious or continuing) that the University takes disciplinary action. Such action can result in disciplinary sanctions up to or including dismissal from the University.

University Resources

The resources the University provides to educate faculty, staff, and students were described in detail in the section on Mission, so only a list of these activities is provided here.

  • Educational Resources:
    • Conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment tutorials for faculty and staff.
    • Program for Education and Evaluation in Responsible Research and Scholarship (PEERRS).
    • Academic integrity: Resources for the University of Michigan.
  • Monitoring:
    • Health and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Research Boards.
    • Medical Institutional Research Boards.
    • Office of University Audits.
    • Office of Internal Controls--Business & Finance.
  • Conflict Resolution and Grievance Processes:
    • Student ombuds.
    • Rackham Graduate School dispute resolution.
    • School and college faculty ombuds.
    • University Faculty Ombuds.
    • Mediation Services for Faculty and Staff.
    • Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP).
    • Formal grievance procedures for faculty, staff, and students.