Criminal Justice Majors:

How Many, Their Reactions, What they Learn

    This section profiles current undergraduate criminal justice majors at Temple University . Following the profile we report briefly on information from the new standardized university-wide teaching evaluations.

 How Many

       Since the Fall of 2000,  criminal justice has remained the  second most popular major in the College of Liberal Arts. That remained true in the Fall of 2003.[1] Criminal justice undergraduate majors totaled 679 compared to Psychology's 980. Political Science continued to rank third with about 400 majors. The total number of declared majors for social science departments with over 200 majors for the last three fall semesters is shown below.

     During this period, the fraction of social science majors in Criminal Justice remained almost constant, increasing only very slightly from 23.7% in the Fall of 2000 to 24.2% in the Fall of 2002.

 

 

 

 

 

Major Productivity Per Presidential Faculty

     This increased major load was handled by 14 filled Presidential faculty lines during AY 01-02. This translates to 47.7 majors "produced" by each filled Presidential line.  Compared to the 36.9 majors "produced by 15 filled Presidential faculty lines for the year before, this represents a 29.3% increase in major "production" per filled Presidential faculty line compared to the year preceding.

 Features of Majors

 Some notable features of our majors as of the spring of 2003 are as follows:  

 

Grades by Students

     Majors' GPAs for the last two years appear in the table below. It appears that the GPAs of criminal justice majors have increased somewhat over the last year. The fraction with "A" range averages has increased from 9 to 15%, and the fraction with GPAs below "C" has dropped slightly from 6.2 to 4.2%. Since we do not have comparable college-wide data on grade distributions, we don't know if this reflects a recent increase in grade inflation college-wide, or an increase in student quality, or some combination of the two.

Criminal Justice Majors' GPAs: Fall 2001 and Fall 2002

  Fall 2001 Fall 2002 (end)
A, A- (3.5 and up) 9.1% 15.3%
B (3.0 or better) 31.4% 38.5%
C- or lower (below 2.0) 6.2% 4.2%

 

In the Spring of 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002, we surveyed all students in all of our undergraduate courses using a closed-ended survey instrument (n= 642, 554, 603, 672 in the four waves). We picked a Tuesday and Wednesday or a Wednesday and a Thursday in mid-April for the survey administration. Students were instructed to only complete the instrument once, even if the survey is administered in two or more of their classes. The effort was coordinated through our Undergraduate Committee, and Steve Smith, the Criminal Justice Coordinator at Ambler, has taken the lead role in data collection, cleaning, processing, and analysis.
    
A section of the survey asked students who were criminal justice majors
how satisfied they were with the quality of instruction, and what their overall satisfaction was with their criminal justice major (n of majors = 347, 309, 269, and 309 in the four waves).[4] The available response categories for the satisfaction questions were: Completely dissatisfied (0) / Very dissatisfied (1) / Dissatisfied (2) / Somewhat dissatisfied (3) / Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied (4) / Somewhat satisfied (5) / Satisfied (6) / Very Satisfied (7) / Completely Satisfied (8) . 
     
Majors consistently report they were satisfied, overall, with the major. Since 1996, there have been no significant changes in this level of satisfaction with the major; the average has varied between 5.85 and 6.2. [5]
   
Majors similarly report a high overall level of satisfaction with the
quality of instruction in criminal justice classes; the mean over the four administrations has varied between 6.2 and 6.0. Again, there have been no significant changes in this average over the four waves.

 Competencies Acquisition in Criminal Justice Courses

    We have completed two recent assessments of students' acquisition of competencies in some of our undergraduate courses. One paper to be published later this year asks whether majors in our required undergraduate research methods course learn how to decode complex graphical displays of data and the advantages and disadvantages of research designs. It appears that they do.[6]  A second set of analyses spearheaded by faculty member Kate Auerhahn examined several semesters' worth of data from our "gateway" Introduction to Criminal Justice course.[7] Using a variety of research designs, it appears we have constructed reliable instruments to gauge students' acquisition of some global competencies; results suggest higher scores on competencies by the end of the semester.  

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[1] These are "official" Temple University number from the university website. Office of Student Information Systems. "Temple University Fall 2003 Student Profile: College of Liberal Arts." [online: http://www.temple.edu/factbook/profile03/libprofile.html; retrieved 3/09/04]
[2] This number joins seniors and "high seniors".
[3] Although there is no set definition of a "transfer" student, we defined a transfer student as someone who matriculated with 27 or more credits at another institution. This would translate at Temple to a 5/4 or a 4/5 load over two semesters, or roughly a full year's worth of academic credit. Unless otherwise mentioned, the figures on the rest of this page were based on major records pulled from Web Focus, the main student Information System, in mid-March, 2003.
[4] So every survey administration has given us information on more than half of our Criminal Justice majors. The rest of the majors were either not taking a criminal justice course that semester, or were not enrolled that semester, or did not answer the survey. But there is no reason to think that responding majors are in any way systematically different from majors who were not surveyed.
[5]Statistical analyses included analyses of variance and post-hoc tests. Satisfaction with quality of instruction was nonsignificant (F < 1). The univariate F-test for satisfaction with major was marginally significant (F(3,1283=2.60; p < .06). Post-hoc tests (Tamhane, p =.06) suggested that majors in 2002 were almost significantly more satisfied with their major than majors were in 1998.
[6] Taylor, R. B., Anderson, T., McConnell, P. (in press). Competencies and Interest in a Problem-Focused Undergraduate  Research Methods Criminal Justice Course: Two Assessments. Journal of Criminal Justice
Education. This preprint is available online at: http://www.rbtaylor.net/competencies_researchmethods.pdf .
[7] This report is available online at http://www.rbtaylornet/competencies_auerhahn.pdf