ECAR Study of Community College Students and Information Technology, 2019

Methodology and Acknowledgments


In 2018, ECAR conducted its latest annual study of undergraduate students and information technology to shed light on how IT affects the college/university experience. These studies have relied on students recruited from the enrollment of institutions that volunteer to participate in the project. After institutions secured local approval to participate in the 2018 study (e.g., successfully navigating the IRB process) and submitted sampling plan information, they received a link to the current year's survey. An institutional representative then sent the survey link to students in the institution's sample. Data were collected between February 5 and April 23, 2018, and 64,536 students from 130 institutional sites responded to the survey. ECAR issued $50 or $100 gift cards to 39 randomly selected student respondents who opted in to an opportunity drawing offered as an incentive to participate in the survey. Colleges and universities use data from the EDUCAUSE Technology Research in the Academic Community (ETRAC) student and faculty surveys to develop and support their strategic objectives for educational technology. With ETRAC data, institutions can understand and benchmark what students and faculty need and expect from technology. There is no cost to participate. Campuses will have access to all research publications, the aggregate-level summary/benchmarking report, and the institution's raw (anonymous) response data.

The quantitative findings in this report were developed using 54,285 survey responses from 114 US institutions. Responses were neither sampled nor weighted. Comparisons by student type and institution type are included in the findings when there are meaningful differences, and all statements of significance are at the .001 level unless otherwise noted. Findings from past ECAR studies were also included, where applicable, to characterize longitudinal trends.

For the purposes of this study, community colleges were defined as institutions that (1) have the Carnegie class of AA and (2) are two-year institutions. In this study, two institutions met one or the other, but not both, of those criteria; they were included after verifying their community college status. Forty ETRAC-participating institutions were classified as community colleges, providing 10,072 community college students (19% of US respondents) for our sample.


The EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) would like to first thank the community college students who took time from their schedules to participate in the 2018 ETRAC student survey, from which these data were derived. Thanks are also in order to the survey administrators at the participating two-year and AA institutions who planned and deployed the survey to the students on their campuses. We also thank our community college subject-matter experts, Richard A. Sebastian, Director, OER Degree Initiative at Achieving the Dream Inc., and Michael Chahino, EdD, Chief Information Officer at Elgin Community College, who offered their time and expertise in reviewing this study. Their thoughtful feedback and suggestions have greatly improved the quality of the report.

Many thanks go out to the team of EDUCAUSE staff who made significant contributions to this report. First, a special note of appreciation to D. Christopher Brooks for his guidance and leadership on this project, from the first round of data analysis to the final draft. Thanks to Ben Shulman for his thorough statistical review that ensured the data analysis was accurate and the explanations fitting. Thanks also go to Kate Roesch for designing the engaging figures that helped bring the data to life, and to Joseph D. Galanek for his helping hands in early-stage manuscript review. We are thankful for Gregory Dobbin and the publications team for their attention to detail and editorial guidance, and for Lisa Gesner for her skilled content management and marketing of this project. Finally, thank you to Susan Grajek and Mark McCormack for their review of the manuscript and suggestions for making it stronger, as well as their enthusiasm and support of this project along the way.