Campus climate surveys are not only useful to 4-year private institutions and public universities, they can be very useful to community colleges as well. Although there are special circumstances which need to be taken into account for conducting effective climate surveys in community colleges, they can be adapted and administered successfully.
Here is a list of 5 helpful resources to assist you in creating and administering your campus climate survey.
NotAlone.gov on Campus Climate Surveys
This is the official government website surrounding the issue of sexual harassment and assault. It gives general information about “how to respond to and prevent sexual assault.”
On their homepage, there is a link to their Resource Guide, which in turn gives schools several links to sources that are intended to help schools create their own campus climate surveys. The government’s own toolkit is included, which gives schools information on why the surveys are important, what they aim to accomplish, and how to successfully create and distribute a survey. This guide also includes a sample campus climate survey, which can be used as inspiration and adapted to your campus’ needs.
Learn from Other College's Campus Climate Survey Experiences
Possibly the most helpful resource for community colleges is learning from how other schools carried out their own campus climate surveys. Rutgers University--New Brunswick was the first university to run a pilot of this new campus climate survey. They documented their process, and created a document to share what they learned with other universities.
In their executive summary of their findings, they briefly mentioned the key lessons that they learned through the surveying process.
- “Campus climate surveys provide more meaning when they are part of a larger assessment process.”
- “The administration of campus climate surveys has the most impact when it is linked with the development of an action plan.”
- “One size does not fit all.”
- “It is important to find ways to represent all student voices.”
- “A campus climate survey can be an educational tool in and of itself.”
We highly recommend reading Rutgers Campus Climate Surveys: Lessons Learned from the Rutgers-New Brunswick Pilot Assessment in full, as it provides very valuable insight into the survey process, as well as addressing problems they ran into. Detailed sections include methodology, preparation of assessment measures, implementation of measures, data analysis, and feedback on the survey experience.
Community Colleges and Campus Climate Surveys
Community colleges experiences with campus climate surveys serve as good resources. There is an ever-expanding number of community colleges who have completed campus climate surveys and have published their findings online. Grand Rapids Community College, Feather River College are just two that have publicly shared their experiences and findings. Since campus climate surveys should be tailored to your institution's specific needs, make sure to make the necessary changes on sample surveys to reflect your campus.
Online Survey Tools to Administer the Campus Climate Survey
There are numerous ways to survey a group of people, including interviewing, sending surveys in the mail, telephone, and handing out questionnaires. All surveys have their limitations, but the most adaptable and cost-effective surveying method for community colleges is the online questionnaire.
In choosing the right surveying tool for you, it is important to understand what type of capabilities you want your surveying tool to have. Do you need to have a high level of control on what the survey looks and feels like? Do you need for your statistical analysis to be done within that program, or do you only need a simple collection method to then analyze in a bonafide statistical package?
Idealware has a great article about different surveying tools and the needs they fill. They break down the different tools by ability and price. One one end of the spectrum are simple and affordable options such as Survey Monkey, and on the other end of the spectrum is Qualtrics, a much pricier option. The core requirement for Campus Climate Survey's is for the survey tool to ensure anonymity (e.g., IP addresses or any other identifiable data is not captured as part of the response).
Some colleges are engaging third party companies to run the campus climate survey as a stand-alone research project. The budgetary requirement for this approach tend to be significantly higher. For community colleges, there are a range of options that could fit their budget and need to augment capabilities.
Statistical Packages to Analyze Campus Climate Survey Response Data
For those looking to analyze survey results in a statistical program, one the one end of spectrum are simple tools such as Excel and on the other end are high sophisticated analysis packages such as STATA and SPSS. Both of these packages are heavily used in social science research. Many community colleges have access to some sort of statistical program. An equally capable analytics software package gaining a lot of tracking in academic research and data analytics is R. It is free and open source and its vast array of analytics and graphing libraries make it a formidable competitor to STATA and SPSS. On
The benefit of using statistical packages in the analysis of surveys is that you can achieve results that are statistically significant. These packages are powerful and offer a multitude of ways to analyze your data, many of which cannot be completed in online survey tools. While they require skill to master, they yield powerful and trusted results.
Resources on your Campus
The last, but the most important resource that is available to you in creating and administering your campus climate survey is your campus itself! Community colleges are filled with faculty and students qualified to assist you with survey research, especially those studying social science. In the planning of your survey, don’t forget to utilize the talent on your campus!
In the end, a campus climate survey conducted at a traditional 4-year university and one conducted at a community college may need to be adapted differently to meet their campus’ needs, but the resources used to create and distribute the surveys have a lot in common. In recognizing the tools available to you and your academic institution, you will be able to ensure the success of your campus climate survey.