Highlighting Student Activities Assessment

Assessing Sexual Harassment & Proactive Training

Project Lead: Rindaane Riccio, Coordinator of Risk Management

Several years ago, the Department of Student Activities developed a training for student employees and student leaders on the topic of sexual harassment education and prevention.  Each semester since then, Student Activities has held in-person trainings on this topic.

In the spring semester of 2018, the training was redesigned.  Due to policy changes at the University, some of the information needed to be updated.  At the same time, Student Activities sought to provide an outlet for student engagement, discussion, reflection, and learning about this important topic.

The training was redesigned to feature two key themes – definitions and terms as established by the University’s ‘Policy against Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Interpersonal Violence’, as well as education on bystander intervention.  The new training was implemented in the fall semester of 2018, and over the course of the academic year 508 students attended the trainings offered.

Some of the key learning outcomes identified for the training, and subsequently assessed were:

  • Student will demonstrate understanding of one’s responsibilities as a UConn student.
  • Student will demonstrate knowledge of unacceptable behaviors relative to sexual harassment in the workplace/organization.
  • Student will demonstrate knowledge of unacceptable behaviors relative to “sexual exploitation” in the workplace/organization
  • Student will define “consent” relative to intimate contact.
  • Student will demonstrate knowledge of reporting resources relative to sexual harassment, stalking, and/or intimate partner violence.

At the end of September 2018, when the majority of the trainings were completed, a survey was sent out electronically through Campus Lab’s ‘Baseline’ system to all of the students who had attended the workshops to determine the extent to which the learning outcomes that were identified during the redesign process had been met and to assess the students’ overall understanding on the training topics.

The survey was designed to be qualitative.  Based on a rubric developed by Student Activities, the student responses to the questions were coded based on the following scale:

  1. No understanding: unable to convey or articulate any definition or action
  2. Shows little understanding: incomplete thought/understanding – does not apply action
  3. Shows adequate understanding: likely no action, grasps basic concept of definition, perhaps not most accurate wording used
  4. Shows understanding of the material: able to articulate definitions OR action
  5. Shows exemplary understanding: action and understanding of definition

The assessment confirmed the efficacy of this new training and also identified areas for improvement to implement in the training going forward.  For example, the survey found that students who attended the redesigned training demonstrated a strong ability to identify sexual harassment (4/5), had a good understanding of consent (3.6/5), and demonstrated strong knowledge of reporting resources on campus (4.8/5).  However, it also showed that students did not fully grasp behaviors relative to sexual exploitation (2.7/5).

The assessment did have some limitations.  One notable limitation was the timing of the assessment.  The training was ongoing throughout the fall semester of 2018, starting in mid-August and finishing in mid-October.  When the first invitation to complete the survey was sent out towards the end of September, 437 students had completed the training.  Due to the time between the actual trainings and the invitation to complete the survey, it is believed the response rate was negatively impacted.  For the future, a more timely release of the survey after the training may lead to a higher response rate.  Based on all the data collected and limitations considered, the assessment instrument has been slightly modified and is currently being conducted again for the 2019-2020 academic year.  An additional year of data will allow us to further understand the effect that our training is having on students and aid in identifying other ways for us to ensure students are properly educated on this important topic.