Why not ask students about college success?
We asked each other this question over a lunch of Singapore noodles a few years ago. We were perplexed by the number of surveys using vague questions about topics tangential to student success.
Our realization: academics design college student surveys primarily to gather data for their books and articles, not to provide actionable data to colleges. Higher education needed a new approach to student surveys.
Abandoning the goal of academic publications was liberating. We would leverage our decades of survey research experience to do something different: design surveys where students are not required to answer every question, customize surveys for every college, and quickly adopt and change the technology we use to collect data from students.
We provide you with useful data at the lowest possible cost. We develop our surveys with your needs in mind, not the needs of academic researchers. We charge a flat fee, because our costs do not rise with the number of respondents.
Our goal is simple: to help you help your students succeed.
STEPHEN PORTER, PH.D.
PAUL UMBACH, PH.D.
Steve and Paul have spent decades surveying students and faculty, analyzing survey data, and studying college student success. Both started their careers working in institutional research, Steve at the University of Maryland and Paul at Tidewater Community College. They met in 1998 in the University of Maryland Office of Institutional Research and Planning and quickly realized they shared similar interests, but also had complementary strengths that would make for a successful partnership.
After various stints in institutional research, ranging from the Director of Institutional Research at Wesleyan University to Research Analyst at the National Survey of Student Engagement, both landed academic positions at different universities in Iowa, one at the University of Iowa and the other at Iowa State University. Almost two decades after meeting, they are now both professors at North Carolina State University, where they teach courses on quantitative methods and survey research, along with higher education courses on finance, organizational theory, and educational policy. Steve and Paul have international reputations as experts in the areas of survey methods, research design, college student access and success, and institutional research.
In January 2015, they launched Percontor, LLC, and began offering online, synchronous research methods workshops. At the same time, they began working on the RISC, convinced they could make a difference in higher education by providing colleges and universities actionable data on student success.