Policy and Resources for Electronic Surveys of Keene State College Students
Keene State College students, like students at other colleges and universities, are often asked to complete surveys. Because in the past these surveys have not been coordinated, students have sometimes received multiple requests, and sometimes for surveys on similar topics at the same time. This approach can result in confusion and survey fatigue for students and lower survey response rates for researchers*; indeed response rates have been falling at KSC and nationally, for both academic research and administrative studies, reducing the value of the survey results.
In the past there has been no mechanism even to know the number of surveys that are administered to Keene State College students, nor to know which students receive survey requests in a particular semester, and there has been no coordination of survey launches to student populations to prevent virtual traffic jams. From the little information that is currently available, it appears that most broad surveys of KSC students are conducted by administrative offices or student organizations; far fewer appear to be conducted by faculty or students for academic research.
The Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research (IRB) is one gateway through which some surveys are vetted. This group only reviews proposed research with an eye to participants’ vulnerabilities, however, and not all surveys require IRB review.
The purpose of this policy is to improve response rates for surveys of KSC students by
- Tracking the number of electronic survey requests to KSC students each semester;
- Decreasing the number of electronic surveys administered to the same student populations each semester;
- Reducing collection of duplicate information from different surveys;
- Supporting researchers in the use of best practices in survey construction, administration, and reporting; and to do these things in a way that helps academic research to flourish
Who is a researcher? For the purposes of this policy, a “researcher” is any person who conducts a survey. A researcher may be a faculty member, a staff member, an administrator, a student, or a person not affiliated with the Keene State College community.
Researchers who wish to conduct electronic surveys of Keene State College students must schedule their surveys through the Office of Institutional Research. This can be done by emailing the director of institutional research (email@example.com) and providing a brief description of the survey project, the population to be surveyed, and the anticipated date of the survey, and attaching a copy of the survey instrument. For faculty or students conducting academic research, attaching a copy of the instrument is optional. A form for this purpose will be posted on the Office of Institutional Research website.
The director of institutional research will work with the researcher to identify an appropriate window for the survey launch that does not conflict with other surveys already scheduled for the same population. The director may work with the researcher to identify an appropriate sample of the student body that will meet the researcher’s needs and also limit the number of requests to an individual student.
Which surveys fall under this policy?
- Any survey whose target population is all students, or all undergraduate students, or all graduate students is subject to this policy.
- Additionally, surveys fall under this policy if the target population is drawn from more than the researcher’s own department, unit, or organization (e.g., all seniors or a 25% random sample of all undergraduates).
Which surveys are exempt from this policy?
- Surveys conducted in hard copy, regardless of the target population, are exempt.
- Surveys are exempted from this policy if they target a limited, well-defined group for which the researcher has an established connection (students in the researcher’s class or organization; participants in a program, course, or event that is being evaluated; students in the researcher’s academic major; students served by the researcher’s program or office; etc.).
- Petitions, including but not limited to those seeking support for political positions, are not considered to be surveys and are exempt from this policy
Academic Freedom. No effort will be made to review or control the content of academic surveys. This policy is intended, rather, to facilitate both academic and non-academic surveys, giving academic research the higher priority, and to assist academic researchers to achieve the survey response rates they need by avoiding multiple and simultaneous survey requests to students.
Priorities. In scheduling surveys, those studies that have been identified by the Keene State College cabinet as major institutional surveys (see list attached) will have first priority and will be scheduled well in advance of the semester in which they occur. Other surveys will be scheduled as requests are received, so early requests will be to the advantage of the researcher. When multiple requests are in hand at one time, academic research by faculty and students will receive top priority for scheduling, and whenever possible the scheduling preferences of academic researchers will be accommodated. Surveys by administrative units and student organizations will have lower priority, and surveys from external sources will be considered only after all internal survey requests have been scheduled.
Best Practices. Researchers who survey Keene State College students are expected to:
- Seek and receive IRB approval, as appropriate;
- Ensure that surveys are accessible to students with disabilities;
- Use samples rather than surveying the entire student population whenever possible;
- Avoid repeating surveys annually;
- Follow the basic principles of informed consent; and
- Otherwise use best practices in survey construction, administration, and reporting
Survey Committee. The director of institutional research will regularly inform a committee composed of four faculty members (one nominated by each academic dean) and three staff members (one each nominated by the director of ITG, the registrar, and the vice president for student affairs) about the surveys scheduled through this process. Nominations for positions on the committee will be made annually, and a committee member may be renominated for as many terms as is consistent with the interests of the unit the committee member represents and the committee member’s other responsibilities. The committee will assist the director if necessary in making judgments about conflicting requests and will annually review survey activity and recommend to the cabinet any necessary changes to this policy
Approved by the Keene State College Senate: November 13, 2013
Approved by the President’s Cabinet: December 20, 2013
Request to Conduct an Electronic Survey
Planning to conduct an electronic survey of KSC students? Please first submit a request to IR.