Bass Connections Program Evaluation

The Bass Connections 2020-2021 annual program evaluation included an end-of-year survey administered to team leaders and graduate students; a pre- and post-participation survey for undergraduate students; and our first survey of alumni. Read the 2020-2021 evaluation report and alumni survey report, and see highlights below.  

While these evaluation efforts focus on the impact of the program on students, faculty and alumni, the wide range of work produced by these teams can be viewed by browsing our Fortin Foundation Virtual Showcase or our catalog of selected outputs including exhibits, apps, datasets, grants and publications.

Alumni Survey Highlights

Our alumni survey, sent to graduate and undergraduate student alumni who received their degrees between 2014 and 2019, found that 80% of respondents agreed that Bass Connections was a high-impact learning experience. When asked to select the one most important outcome of participating in Bass Connections, gaining practical experience was the most commonly cited benefit, followed by developing skills used in their current position, and finding a career interest

Alumni Survey Highlights.

“This program encapsulates everything that is wonderful about Duke – the dedication of professors and students, research in a diverse context, and addressing critical problems in our broader society.” –Bass Connections alum

Skill Development

When asked to rank the top abilities that the program helped them develop, undergraduate alumni reported the top three skills as the ability to think critically, leadership on a team, and the capacity to conduct research.

Among graduate/professional students, the top three skills developed were the ability to work with external stakeholders/clients, facility in organizing and managing projects, and leadership on a team.

Rank of top skills alumni developed through the program

top skills.

“An incredible opportunity that still comes up frequently in my job interviews. The skills developed in projects are much more transferable after graduation than skills gained from traditional coursework.” –Bass Connections alum

Preparation for Current Role

77% of alumni reported that their Bass Connections experience helped prepare them for their current role. Key areas of preparation include working collaboratively in teams, working across different fields of knowledge, and conducting research.

Alumni Survey Highlights.

“I was given the opportunity to project manage a large part of my project. When I became a consultant the next year, I already knew the skills, and I started managing evaluations with clients just a year out from graduation.” –Bass Connections alum

Where Are They Now?

54% of Bass Connections alumni are currently employed, while 44% are enrolled as a graduate or professional student.

Among graduate students, 33% are pursuing a Ph.D. and 26% are pursuing an M.D.

Relative to currently employed Duke alumni at large, Bass Connections alumni respondents are more likely to work outside of the private sector (nonprofit organizations, government, self-employed).

70% of alumni reported that their Bass Connections experience influenced what they chose to do after Duke.

“Life-changing. It opened my eyes to health disparities in a way I had never learned or cared much about before. This was a large part of my motivation to go to medical school, and is a daily part of our conversations in the field now.” –Bass Connections alum

Annual Program Evaluation Highlights

The findings from our annual evaluation reinforce past findings: the vast majority of faculty and students are satisfied with their experience in the program; both graduate and undergraduate students report developing skills in teamwork, research, critical thinking, and organizing and managing complex projects; and where teams run into challenges, it is often related to a lack of team structure and organization.

Undergraduate Student Development

In relation to a comparison group of undergraduate students, Bass Connections students who completed the pre- and post-participation survey reported greater average improvements in 5 of 7 areas critical thinking and research skill areas, with statistically significant gains noted for 4 items. The comparison group did not report any statistically significant gains over the same period. 

Program Eval Highlights.
Asterisks denote the degree of statistical significance with two asterisks denoting the highest confidence level (*p<.05, **p<.01).

“I really enjoyed getting to know my team and work on a project that I am really passionate about. I also feel really proud of the work we accomplished, and especially excited that our stakeholders will be able to use our work to actually help the people our work was targeting.” –Undergraduate student

“Bass Connections has allowed me a thorough foray into research, which is a unique opportunity to have as an undergraduate student. It has greatly shaped my research interests and future career paths, and I have met some of the most incredible mentors and students through this program.” –Undergraduate student

Graduate Student Development

Graduate students were asked to rank the top three skills they developed by participating in Bass Connections, with 1 being the greatest impact. Respondents most frequently reported benefiting from working with team members from diverse areas of knowledge and organizing and managing projects. 

Rank of top skills graduate students develop through the program

Grad student development.

“I developed a lot of content knowledge and got to speak to a lot of interesting people in the field. I also was able to look at the problem we studied from outside of my typical area of study so I saw the problem in a different light.” –Graduate student

Benefits for Team Leaders

Team leaders most commonly reported that the top three benefits of participation included generating meaningful research outputs, developing new relationships across the university and developing new expertise in a research topic. 

Rank of top benefits for team leaders

Team leaders.

“Seeing students come in with little knowledge on a topic and produce publication-quality outputs by the end of the year has been tremendously meaningful to me both as a mentor and as a researcher. The student growth and collaboration, even in a fully-remote setting was absolutely impressive.” –Team leader

Evaluation Reports

To learn more, please review our program evaluation reports published in the past five years. For more information about our program evaluation efforts or earlier reports, please contact Laura Howes