A version of this article appeared in the Winter 2013–14 issue of Erikson on Children with the headline “Alumni talk back.” More from this issue

The results are in from the Erikson alumni survey!

Below are some of the highlights.

“We want to thank alumni for their participation in this survey,” says Jeanne Lockridge, vice president for planning and enrollment. “Your responses are enormously valuable to us as we continue to seek better ways to transform programs and services for children and their families.”

Summary of findings

  • Alumni are very positive about the influence of their Erikson education on their careers. They were also very positive about Erikson’s influence on their knowledge and practice competencies, agreeing with statements including “Erikson taught me about child development,” “Erikson improved the quality of my work with children,” and “Erikson improved the quality of my work with parents/families.”
  • “Erikson was worth the investment.” In response to this broad statement, the average rating was 4.54 on a 5-point scale, with 5 meaning “strongly agree.” Only 2.6% disagreed.
  • “Erikson had a huge impact on my career.”
     

  • A high proportion of Erikson alumni continue to work in the field. Seventy percent of alumni continue to work full- or part-time in the early childhood field. Seven percent have retired from the field, and 1.5% are actively seeking work in the field. Seventeen percent are working in another occupation. Ninety percent of those working in the field intend to continue doing so.
  • Their service to the field is characterized by its longevity. Fifty-seven percent have worked in the field more than 10 years; 21% have worked 6-10 years; and 22% have worked 1-5 years.
  • They work in a wide variety of organizations. Taken together, 46% of all alumni are working in the broad field of education — from preschool through college or university levels. The other half are divided among child care, early intervention, hospital and health services, social services, and “other,” which includes government, cultural institutions, and research, advocacy, or policy organizations.
  • They serve an estimated 250,000 individuals and families and 6,000 organizations over the course of a year. Most alumni serve more than one group of constituents. Half of the people served are children; the other half are parents, caregivers, families, practitioners, and other adults. Not quite a third are also serving organizations, further broadening their impact.
  • The populations they serve are socially and economically diverse. Two-thirds of the people they serve are persons of color. Two-thirds live in urban areas. Fifty-seven percent are low income (that is, eligible for public housing, food stamps, school lunch program and similar indicators).
  • 77% of those working in the field express overall satisfaction with their current job; 11% were dissatisfied, and the remaining respondents were neutral.
  • Alumni were asked which dimensions of their jobs were most important to them and which gave them the most satisfaction. In general, dimensions of their jobs that were most important to alumni were also those with which they were most satisfied. Their responses are summarized in two tables below, in descending order of satisfaction.

The table below lists the factors with which 75% or more were satisfied. Four of the factors most important to alumni also showed the highest levels of satisfaction: “the work itself,” “the opportunity to make a difference,” “relationship with co-workers,” and “independence.” Three quarters of alumni were satisfied with the “intellectual challenge” and “opportunity for creativity.” Respondents who were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied were classified as “neutral.”


Importance and Satifaction > 75%
Factor % saying it is important or very important % saying they are satisfied or very satisfied % saying they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied
The work itself 99% 87% 3%
The opportunity to make a difference 99% 87% 5%
Relationship with co-workers 92% 83% 3%
Independence 90% 83% 4%
The intellectual challenge 97% 77% 10%
Opportunity for creativity 88% 77% 8%

 

The table below lists the factors with which fewer than 75% were satisfied. These factors tend to focus on professional aspects of their work rather than the content of the work. The factors with which alumni expressed the lowest levels of satisfaction were “compensation” and “potential for advancement.”


Importance ≥ 75% and Satifaction < 75%
Factor % saying it is important or very important % saying they are satisfied or very satisfied % saying they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied
Relationship with supervisors 94% 74% 11%
Working conditions 82% 71% 13%
How others value my work 73% 69% 14%
Opportunity for professional growth 92% 63% 17%
Workload 86% 61% 20%
Compensation 84% 56% 24%
Potential for advancement 75% 46% 22%

 
Alumni also provided thoughtful responses to open-ended questions about how Erikson can improve its preparation of early childhood professionals and identified a number of pressing issues in the field that they believe Erikson should be addressing. Faculty are weighing these responses as they review and expand academic programs and professional development offerings and engage with community partners to develop best practices.

Survey administration and response

Every three years, Erikson conducts a survey of its alumni.The survey was administered via email to 1,181 alumni of Erikson’s master’s, Ph.D., and certificate programs. We received 434 partial and complete responses, for a 37% response rate. This rate is comparable to response rates to previous alumni surveys and is considered a representative sample.