Faculty member critiquing student paper

Assessment Brief #91 - The Winter Term Experience

Assessment Logo: assessment-revision-outcomes

September 2016

Winter term enrollments have grown significantly since first implemented in winter 2014. During the first winter term, 3,338 students enrolled for courses. By 2016 winter term, 4,994 students, including 209 graduate students and 4,785 undergraduates, enrolled in courses. All winter term faculty and registered students were invited to participate in the online Winter Term Survey conducted by the Office of Institutional Research. A total of 1,322 undergraduates (28.5% response rate) and 154 faculty members (50.0% response rate) participated.

Student Experiences

The majority of students reported being satisfied with their winter term experience (94.9% of Oxford undergraduates and 94.2% of Regional campus undergraduates). For many students, the winter term provided opportunities that they would not have otherwise had; 52.5% of Oxford undergraduates and 46.0% of regional campus undergraduates reported that they would not have been able to study abroad or study away if they had not enrolled in a winter term course.

Students reported spending less time preparing for class during the winter term than they did during the fall term; 70.0% of Oxford students spent 11 or more hours prepping each week during the fall term compared with only 55.4% during the winter term. Among regional campus students, 64.0% spent 11 or more hours prepping during the fall whereas 56.4% spent 11 or more hours during the winter term. Comparing the average hours spent preparing per credit hour per term, students still reported spending fewer hours preparing for class during the winter term than during the fall term.1

Some of the undergraduates find the compressed winter term to be a challenge; 43.9% of Oxford undergraduates and 45.5% of Regional undergraduates agreed that their winter term course(s) was much more challenging than other Miami courses they had taken, even though the majority reported that they were able to keep up with the pace of the course (Oxford – 92.2%; Regional - 95.2%). However, roughly a quarter of undergraduates reported that they did not do as well as expected in their winter term course(s) (Oxford - 27.8%; Regionals – 22.2%).

In the open-ended comments, undergraduates reported that additional academic services or resources would have improved their winter term experience. This theme did not appear in the open-ended comments during the previous years’ surveys. Students who were dissatisfied with their 2016 winter term experience were also more likely than in previous years to cite the heavy workload as an issue.

Faculty Experiences

Overall faculty satisfaction with their winter term experience remains high, with 96.0% of Oxford faculty and 100% of Regional faculty reporting being satisfied. Compared to the first year of the winter term, faculty this year were more likely to agree that communications on the winter term were helpful (Oxford – 70.5% agreement in 2014 vs. 89.7% in 2016; Regional – 88.2% agreement in 2014 vs. 100% in 2016).

Some faculty reported being dissatisfied with student understanding of workload related to courses taught in a shorter time frame (Oxford – 20.2% dissatisfied; Regionals – 22.7%). Like the students, open-ended comments from faculty indicated an increased concern about the heavy student workload during the winter term. Compared with previous years, there were also more suggestions that Miami limit the number of credit hours for which students could register.


Both student and faculty satisfaction with the winter term remains high, and students report that the winter term provides them with study abroad/study away opportunities that they would not otherwise have had. However, both students and faculty report concerns about the challenge of winter term courses compared with other courses.

The full results for the Winter Term Survey, including results for graduate students and unregistered students, are available online at http://www.units.miamioh.edu/oir/Surveys/Winter_Term/.

1 A description of the methodology for this calculation is available in the full Winter Term Survey reports online at http://www.units.miamioh.edu/oir/Surveys/Winter_Term/.