Book cover for Writing Beyond the University: Preparing Lifelong Learners for Lifewide Writing. Edited by Julia Bleakney, Jessie L. Moore, and Paula Rosinski.
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October 3, 2022

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ISBN: 978-1-951414-09-2

November 2022

From chapter 3, “Understanding Alumni Writing Experiences in the United States”

Center for Engaged Learning and Elon Poll 2019 National Study of Recent College Graduates

Context: United States (national study)

Participants: 1,575 college graduates, age 18-34, living in the United States

Population: U.S. college graduates, ages 18-34


  • Age: 18-24 (20%), 25-34 (80%)
  • Gender: Female (56%), Male (44%)
  • Race and Ethnicity: Whie, non-Hispanic (67%), Black, non-Hispanic (11%), Hispanic or Latinx (12%), Other (10%)
  • Region: Northeast (21%), Midwest (21%), South (34%), West (24%)
  • First Generation: Yes (38%), No (62%)

Sampling Method:

For this survey, the Elon University Poll used an online, opt-in sample provided by Lucid, LLC. Respondents were recruited for this sample from many sample providers in the Lucid marketplace. Respondents received small amounts of compensation in exchange for their opinions. Our sample was designed to represent 18 to 34-year-olds in the United States with at least a two-year degree. This population consists of approximately 24 million individuals. We defined our eligible population as those classified by the U.S. Census as having an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Graduate or Professional graduate degree. The survey software, Qualtrics, screened respondents out of the sample if they self-reported having less than this level of education.

This survey used both quotas prior to data collection and weights after data collection to match sample demographics to population demographics of age, race, sex, highest degree and Census region. A raking algorithm in Stata generated weights.

  • Dates in the field: June 7-12th, 2019
  • Weighting variables: Age, Gender, Race, Census region, Highest degree earned
  • Credibility interval: +/- 2.53 points

Unlike a traditional random digit-dial telephone survey, online opt-in surveys do not have a traditional margin of error because they do not adhere to assumptions of random selection. To account for uncertainty inherent in any sample-based research design, we provide credibility intervals. More information about this technique can be found here. The credibility interval was calculated by inflating traditional confidence intervals by design effects means. In this survey, the interval was calculated as follows: (1.023* 2.469) = 2.53

Survey questions are shared here.

Florida State University Alumni Study – 2017-2018

Context: Florida State University

Participants: 174 Survey Respondents; Six Interview Subjects

Population: 1184 Graduates of Florida State’s Editing, Writing, and Media Concentration


  • Gender: Female (78%), Male (22%)
  • Race and Ethnicity: White, non-Hispanic (70%), Black, non-Hispanic (6%), Hispanic or Latinx (16%), Other (8%)
  • Graduating Class:
    • 2017 – 20%
    • 2016 – 16%
    • 2015 – 16%
    • 2014 – 11%
    • 2013 – 16%
    • 2012 – 12%
    • 2011 – 8%
    • 2010 – 1%

Sampling Method:

I recruited participants through:

  • Purposive sampling, emailing a link to the survey to the then 1184 graduates of the EWM program;
  • Convenience sampling, with a Rhetoric and Composition faculty member sending personalized messages to alumni via LinkedIn; and a former instructor in the program posting a link to the survey via Twitter.

Elon Rhetorical Training Study – December 2019

Context: Elon University

Participants: 88 undergraduate students, 45 alumni

Population: Elon University students and alumni


Demographic questions were optional in the survey, but the table below shares the demographic information participants provided.

Current Students (n=88) Alumni (n=45)
  • 4 Males
  • 53 Females
  • 6 Males
  • 33 Females
  • 1 Non-Binary/Third Gender
Transfer status
  • 56 started at Elon University
  • 1 Transferred from another college/university
  • 38 Started at Elon University
  • 2 Transferred from another college/university
Year in College / Year Graduated
  • 5 first-year
  • 15 second-year
  • 15 third-year
  • 21 fourth-year
  • 1 fifth-year

Alumni participants represented majors from all three branches of the College of Arts and Sciences (Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences, Math & Natural Sciences) and from all three undergraduate professional schools at the university. Majors included: Arts Administration (n=1), Chemistry (n=1), Dance (n=2), Drama and Theatre Studies (n=1), English (n=23), Human Service Studies (n=2), International and Global Studies (n =1), Journalism (n=1), Marketing (n=1), Middle Grades Education (n=1), Professional Writing & Rhetoric (n=3), Secondary Level Education License (n=2), and Strategic Communications (n=4).

Sampling method:

We recruited participants through:

  • convenience sampling, inviting students and alumni affiliated with writing-intensive majors/minors and on-campus jobs (e.g., consultants at The Writing Center, student workers for administrative offices, etc.), and
  • snowball sampling, asking our contacts to forward the survey to others with similar writing-related experiences.