Enhancing the marketability of the graduates and improving curricular programs are two of the main concerns of any academic department in a university. In line to this, the Department of Chemistry where I belong wanted to know the status of its graduates, hoping that it will reveal information relevant to enhancing the marketability of the graduates and on improving its B.Sc. in Chemistry curriculum.

Because the university adopts the “no work no pay” policy, it provides a privilege as an assurance to its permanent faculty members of having work in case there is not enough teaching loads during summer terms. This privilege is the “summer tasks” for permanent faculty members, where completion of the tasks is motivated by a memo that includes withholding the summer task pay. However, as a result of the department’s interpretation of the said privilege, the permanent faculty members of our department are required to do summer task even if there are enough loads for them, extra teaching loads go to the non-permanent faculty members. Thus, being a permanent faculty member, I have to do this summer task, and the graduate tracer study was suggested to answer the department’s interest as stated in the first paragraph.

Time Frame

I outlined the tasks and activities for the graduate tracer study as required in the approval sheet, the school provides for the faculty ( who is going to do the summer task) to fill out. In here, I realized that the graduate tracer study will not be completed in one summer school term (a school summer term in the Philippines is about 2 months, to be precise 6 weeks, i.e. 3 weeks in April&3 weeks in May). Thus, the study was conducted on the span of 12 weeks. Take note that the time frame is not a range from summer term to summer term. The study was then conducted in two summer school terms and thus divided into two phases: Phase 1 for one summer term and Phase 2 on the next summer term. Phase 1 includes Preparation of the questionnaire and piloting it, establishing contacts and distribution of the questionnaires to respondents. Phase 2 includes retrieving the answered questionnaires, analysis, interpretation of data, and putting the research into writing. 

Data Collection

Difficulties were encountered in establishing contacts and in retrieving the questionnaires. Contact numbers and addresses were initially obtained from the Office of the University Registrar and Alumni Office. These are the contact addresses and numbers the graduates provided prior to graduation. I started calling them one by one. Some of the graduates changed their contact numbers. So I decided to use the social media, particularly, facebook. To increase the number of contacts, the graduates who were contacted were asked to help contact other graduates, particularly their batch mates. Once the graduates were contacted, I asked for their email addresses so I can email the questionnaire. Now, another problem surfaced. Some of the respondents were too busy to answer or return the questionnaire.

There were a total of 44 B.S. Chemistry graduates according to the records of the Office of the University Registrar, from 2011-2013. So, I decided to do census (sampling is not advisable for small population). However, I realized that a census is not possible considering the limited time and the difficulties encountered. I tried stratified sampling, but some of those selected by random are those who were either not contacted or have not returned the questionnaires. I substituted them with those who returned the questionnaire, but then, after completing the samples, there were still those who returned the questionnaire. I decided to include all the questionnaires that were returned anchored to the principle that the larger the sample size the better, for it reduces sampling error. The sampling can now be described as a process of accumulation (say like, snowball sampling). Finally, I accumulated 55% of the total population before the end of the second summer term. 

Analysis of Data

Considering the process of sampling, the population, and limiting the number of graduates to those who graduated within the years 2011, 2012,&2013; the study does not intend to generalize all the graduates of B.S. Chemistry. Descriptive analysis was used. I cannot discuss the details of the findings/data here (perhaps in the next article) because this will require consent by the department. Instead, I will discuss the questionnaire and its contents.  I used median to summarize the data on perception scale (degree of acquisition and applicability of the competency skills). Percentages, ranks, and mean were used on other data.

The Questionnaire

I used the questionnaire from previous graduate tracer studies (Saniel, 2005). I modified the questionnaire to make it departmental in scope and to suit the interest of the Department of Chemistry. The questionnaire was pretested. Six (6) faculty and staff who are graduates of the B.S. Chemistry program were asked to answer the questionnaire and comment. The pre-testing was done to identify errors, distractors, poorly worded and ambiguous items, and on the clarity of the format.

The questionnaire has the following parts: General Information, Educational Background, Present Employment, Previous Employment, Suggestions, and Acquired and Applicable Competency skills.

To find out the marketability of the graduates of the B.S. Chemistry (under Present Employment and Educational Background), the respondents were asked for the date they were hired on their first employment. Then, the gap between the date hired and the date of graduation became the basis for marketability. Here, marketability of graduates is defined as the time gap between the graduates graduation date and the date they were first employed. The graduates were also asked for their salary bracket.

To look for possible improvement of the B.S. Chemistry curriculum (under Educational Background, Acquired and Applicable Competency skills, and Suggestions.): (1) the graduates were asked if they are licensed chemist, this gave information on the qualification of the graduates as professional chemist based on national certification; (2) the graduates were asked on what chemistry field in the licensure examination they got the highest and lowest score. This gave information as to the strengths to be maintained and weaknesses to be dealt with for possible improvement in teaching and learning; (3) The graduates were asked from the list of competency skills of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for Bachelor of Science in Chemistry program under *CMO No. 18 s. 2007, the degree of acquisition in college and degree of applicability at work. This gave information on the delivery of the competency skills and the need of these competencies at work. (4)Furthermore, the respondents were asked for suggestions on chemistry topics and teaching strategies they wished could have been included in B.S. Chemistry curriculum. This gave information on the needs (as to skills and knowledge) of their present employment that the graduate may feel deficient in the curriculum.

The write up was completed and submitted to the department. When our department head checked the list of graduates in the appendix, discrepancies on the list were found. There were those that did not graduate, included; and there were those who graduated, but are not in the list. I went back to the Office of the University Registrar  and found out that they gave me the list of the candidates for graduation (for those years) instead of the list of those who really graduated. To correct this, the Registrar gave me the list of the graduates submitted to CHED. The size of population changed so adjustment in the computations was made. This could have been avoided earlier should the department provided me the list of graduates. When I asked the department's secretary for the list of graduates, I was told that the department does not have a list. So, I have to assume that the department head personally knew some of those who graduated to have detected the discrepancies.

Considering the population to be small, census could have been more appropriate, so that extension of time and appropriate funding were suggested. Funding is important to personally distribute and collect the questionnaires when necessary, that is, a home delivery method where the researcher personally delivers the questionnaire, explain the contents and instructions, then personally picks it up later. This method, according to Dabbie, Earl (2014 p.276), has been found by experimentation to have higher completion rate than straightforward mail survey.

*CMO means CHED Memorandum Order (Philippines).


Policies and Standards for B.Sc. Chemistry. CHED Memorandum Order No. 18 s. 2007.     Philippines. Retrieved form http://www.ched.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/CMO-                              No.18-s 2007.pdf

Dabbie, Earl (2014).  The Basics of Social Science Research, 6th ed.  Printed in Canada:  Wadsworth, Cengage Learning

Saniel, M. (2005). USC Tracer Study: Final Report. University of

San Carlos.