Measuring 'Greatness' of Grads: The Gallup-Purdue Index, Funded in Part by a $2 Million Grant, Will Be the Largest National Study of College Graduates, Measuring Their Material and Work Successes and Well-Being

By Roach, Ronald | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, January 30, 2014 | Go to article overview

Measuring 'Greatness' of Grads: The Gallup-Purdue Index, Funded in Part by a $2 Million Grant, Will Be the Largest National Study of College Graduates, Measuring Their Material and Work Successes and Well-Being


Roach, Ronald, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


With decades of experience in public opinion polling and research, global management consulting giant Gallup, Inc. announced in December that it is launching a higher education survey project with Purdue University aimed to provide insight into how the college experience enables graduates to pursue life and career success.

This year, the project, known as the Gallup-Purdue Index, begins what will be the largest ever nationally representative study of" college graduates, measuring the long-term pursuit of "great jobs" and "great lives" by graduates. The index is expected to deliver new insights to higher education leaders into how the educational experiences of their students can be improved. Funding support for the index has been made possible in part by a $2 million grant from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation.

"Beginning in 2014, the new Gallup-Purdue Index will measure not only material success ... it will also measure those critical qualities that Gallup finds employers truly value and are predictive of work success: a person's workplace engagement and well-being," wrote Gallup CEO and chairman Jim Clifton and Purdue University president Mitch Daniels in the Wall Street Journal in December.

Among the specific study measures, the Gallup-Purdue Index will reveal how college graduates are faring on five dimensions of well-being: purpose, social, physical, financial and community. The index will also measure workplace engagement, which includes information such as whether survey takers like what they do, do what they're best at and have someone who cares about their development. The national benchmark study will survey 30,000 college graduates this coming spring.

Gallup and Purdue officials say their collaboration breaks new ground among the various college accountability and measurement projects that have emerged in recent years, as American higher education has fallen under heightened scrutiny by political leaders, business executives, news media, education advocates and the general public.

"This is not a ranking," said Brandon Busteed, the executive director of Gallup Education, during a December briefing on the new index. "We're designing [the index] as a benchmark against which institutions can voluntarily choose to understand how their graduates are doing."

The new index will provide statistically significant data about college graduates who have yet to be measured on a national basis.

"It's actually true today that there's not a single college or university in this country that can tell ... from a research-based perspective whether their graduates have good jobs and good lives," said Busteed. "The best that they have is [possibly] some employment data six months after graduation or . …

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