To facilitate training and preparation for incoming and returning members of the UALR Student
Government Association for the 2015-2016 academic year, a retreat was held June 1, 2015 – June 2nd,
2015. This two-day retreat consisted of the following components:
- Ice-Breakers / Familiarization Activities
- Informational / Training Sessions
- Professional Development Sessions
- Guest Speakers
- Team-Building Activities
- Legislative Brainstorming Sessions
- Student Outreach / Interaction Time
Overall, the major intent of this retreat was to expose members to the information they would need to
be proficient in their positions and to begin to foster the skills they will be required to utilize during their
terms of office. Furthermore, this retreat served to establish the goals and expectations of the incoming
In the interest of engaging in best practices as an organization, we administered a post-retreat
evaluation to participants. This simple, 5-item survey instrument contained the following questions:
- What are your overall feelings about the retreat?
- What was your favorite part of the retreat?
- What was your least favorite part of the retreat?
- If you could add one thing to the SGA training retreat in the future, what would it be?
- Any additional comments?
We opted for a more qualitative format, as opposed to numerical, likert-style, rankings in order to
facilitate more descriptive responses from our members.
While several themes emerged from participant evaluation, the first lesson learned from this process
came from the administration and response-rate of our survey instrument. Our instrument was
administered at final, wrap-up, session of the retreat. Despite fairly high attendance overall, throughout
the retreat, we experienced significant attrition by this final session, and therefore were only able to
survey roughly 20% of the retreat attendees:
- Program evaluations should be administered either earlier in the retreat or via some medium more conducive to a follow-contact with attendees (i.e., email).
The remaining lessons learned came represent several themes that were reiterated my multiple participants:
- Participants overwhelmingly identified the interactive and more socially-driven aspects of the retreat as their favorite parts.
- As lecture, information-driven, sessions were less favored, it may be beneficial to find ways to deliver these sessions in more interactive ways.
- Participants often suggested a more informal setting for the retreat as something they might change (i.e., off-campus location, camping, etc.).
- Several participants also commented on the food provided throughout the retreat, suggesting they would’ve preferred something else.
- Seek catering options outside, or in conjunction with, Sodexo.
Submitted by Jacob Laan, SGA President 2015-2016