Overview of PEEK

The Perceptions, Expectations, Emotions and Knowledge about college is a powerful assessment tool designed to help each student identify his/her ideas, attitudes, beliefs, and expectations about college. A student's expectations about the college experience have a powerful influence on thoughts and actions in college. The degree to which a student's expectations accurately reflect the college environment will have a critical impact on academic performance and satisfaction. Many academically able and gifted students drop out of college during their first year because of personal, social, or academic expectations that are not fulfilled or that are inaccurate. The PEEK was developed to alert students to possible discrepancies and help them to develop more accurate perceptions of their college environment. The PEEK can be administered on the Web or as a scannable form. It is a self-report instrument comprised of thirty statements about situations and circumstances of a college setting.

PEEK Categories

Academic Experiences- expectations about the difficulty of college courses, the nature of learning in college, the roles and responsibilities of college instructors, and the nature of instruction in college.

Personal Experiences- expectations about the emotional reactions to college, the degree to which the student is prepared to do college-level work, how college fits into future goals, and the degree to which students must take personal responsibility for their own learning.

Social Experiences- expectations about social pressures in college, interactions between students and instructors, the nature and make-up of college populations, and relationships between students and their family/friends.


PEEK was developed at the University of Texas at Austin by Claire E. Weinstein, Ph.D., David R. Palmer, Ph.D., and Gary R. Hanson, Ph.D.

Development of PEEK

The developmental work that led to the creation of the PEEK began seven years ago as part of the Cognitive Learning Strategies Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

The PEEK explores a student’s perceptions and expectations of what their college experiences and environment will be like for them. Many students enter higher education with unrealistic expectations that can lead to academic difficulties or disillusionment, which can result in withdrawal. If we can help identify some of these possible sources of unconfirmed expectations, we could intervene and try to help students gain a more realistic understanding of what attending their college is going to be like on an academic, personal, and social level. Exploratory data were collected from more than 3000 college faculty and students at all levels of higher education over a period of about 3-4 years.

This information about possible differences in the personal, social, and academic environments of different colleges and students was used to develop a large database of items (over 300 potential items were created). More than 2 years were spent testing and refining this database to produce a usable (brief but informative) measure that can help identify a student’s perceptions and expectations. These expectations are then compared to the likely realities of their college environment as determined by a distinguished panels of professionals in higher education.