Frequently Asked Questions about the Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture


  1. What are you asking our faculty to do?
  2. What does the survey cover?  Is the survey controversial or risky?
  3. What will I or my institution receive?  How will we benefit from participation?
  4. Why should my institution’s faculty participate?
  5. How have other institutions used the resources generated from this research?  How many have participated in the past?  What have they said about their experience?
  6. What do I need to provide?  How difficult is it to complete the information required for our faculty to participate in the study?
  7. Is the survey anonymous or confidential?  How will you protect their responses?
  8. My Institutional Review Board or administration requires an internal review of this research.  Can you help with this internal review?  Has this survey been reviewed by the Sam Houston State University Institutional Review Board?
  9. Will we receive data from this survey?
  10. What are the risks to faculty, administrators, myself, or our institution?
  11. When will the survey launch?
  12. Can we advertise this survey on our institution?
  13. Can my institution request that additional questions be added to the survey?  Can we change questions on the survey?
  14. Who is leading this research?  Who do I contact if I have more questions?
  15. Are there any costs associated with this study?

What are you asking our faculty to do?

Faculty participating in the Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture will be asked to participate in an online survey of their perspectives related to your institution’s culture of assessment.  Responses are anonymously recorded and faculty will be notified of this via a statement of informed consent prior to beginning the survey.  Most of the questions are not required to complete the survey and faculty can discontinue their participation in the survey at any time.  The average time to complete the Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture in prior administrations was nineteen minutes.

What does the survey cover?  Is the survey controversial or risky?

Most of the questions on the survey are not risky and controversial.  However, some of the questions ask faculty to assess the institution’s administration, other faculty, and staff commitment to assessment.  The survey also covers faculty members’ perceptions of institution resources for assessment, the purpose of assessment on your institution, and faculty members’ reasons for engaging in or avoiding assessment.  To reduce risk, none of the questions are required to complete the survey and faculty can discontinue their participation in the survey at any time.  A listing of the survey’s questions can be found online by clicking here.

What will I or my institution receive? How will we benefit from participation?

In addition to supporting the development of the scholarship on cultures of assessment in higher education, your institution will receive an aggregated report.  The report will offer the frequency distributions and means for all quantitative scale questions.  Your report will also contain a listing of all open ended responses and a nation-wide aggregate report that allows for useful comparisons.  In addition to this report, resources for institution dialogue about your culture of assessment will also be shared.  Reports will be available in late summer.  Please review the required Information Sharing Agreement (MS Word; PDF) for more information

Why should my institution’s faculty participate?

Participants will be making a valuable contribution to the scholarship on the understudied concept of institutional culture of assessment.  They will also be contributing to your institution’s conversation on its culture of assessment.  Additionally, participation in this survey could support faculty members' desires to engage other colleagues in dialogue about campus assessment efforts.  You will receive valuable feedback from faculty on the important topic of assessment on your campus with which you can plan for improvements. 

How have other institutions used the resources generated from this research?  How many have participated in the past?

Since 2011, over 5,100 faculty from hundreds of institutions across the nation have completed the Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture.  Prior administrations of the Survey of Assessment Culture have resulted in useful information to initiate institutional dialogue about institutional cultures of assessment.  Assessment and Institutional research directors have found the study results useful in engaging faculty about perceptions of the institution’s culture of assessment.  Participants have noted that the Survey has also supported their ability to make long-term plans and set goals for their institution’s culture of assessment.  Many institutions are using the data for grant and accreditation or quality enhancement efforts as well. Finally, the reports, resources, and presentations done by research staff have been useful in refining institution cultures of assessment on a number of institutions.

Testimonials from Institutional Leaders at Prior Participating Institutions

"Faculty were very curious about our campus' results.  This led to many great conversations about the way we do assessment and our reasons for doing it...If given the chance, we will surely participate in the study again."

~ Mark S., Assistant Vice President of Assessment and Accreditation

"The Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture Data were helpful to our institution for uncovering faculty perceptions about assessment, clarifying the reasons we do assessment, and improving communication about assessment."

~ Heather S., Institutional Research and Effectiveness Specialist

"The faculty data helped our institution determine which programs were more or less supportive of assessment and adjust our ways of working with each program."

~ Margie H., Director of Assessment

"Our institution was fortunate to participate in the faculty survey because we learned much about the way faculty perceive the campus approach to assessment.  We've made many policy and practice changes that have made assessment more 'faculty-friendly.'"

~Lisa S. Assessment Coordinator

What do I need to provide?  How difficult is it to complete the information required for our faculty to participate in the study?

The process for providing the contact information for the survey is relatively easy.  There are three steps to secure your institution’s participation in the faculty survey. 

Each year following the Administrators Survey, institutions can elect to participate in the Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture.  This survey collects information on faculty perceptions and practices related to assessment and parallels the Administrators Survey of Assessment Culture.  Sam Houston State University administers this IRB approved survey on behalf of institutions and faculty responses are recorded in a completely anonymous fashion. 

A DRAFT of the Faculty Survey’s questions can be found by clicking here.  Our Frequently Asked Questions page will answer many of your questions about the Faculty Survey.

  • Consider whether additional IRB approval is needed.

This project has been reviewed and approved by the SHSU Institutional Review Board (IRB).  A copy of the determination letter is available here.  If additional documentation is required, contact Dr. Matthew Fuller (assessmentculture@shsu.edu)

Due (as required): August 15, 2016.

  • Submit a listing of email addresses for all faculty teaching a credit generating course this semester. 

A contact file template is available here.  Send only an institutional email address; no names, titles, etc., please.  Attach your MS Excel file to an email sent to assessmentculture@shsu.edu.

Due: Sept. 12, 2016. 

  • Sign and submit the Information Sharing Agreement. 

This basic information sharing agreement outlines the services we will provide for you FREE OF CHARGE in exchange for your participation in the study.  A copy is available online. (MS Word; PDF).  Return via email (assessmentculture@shsu.edu) or fax: 936.294.3886

Due:  Sept. 12, 2016.

Is the survey anonymous or confidential?  How will you protect their responses?

For each institution participating in the study, the listing of faculty invited to participate in the Survey will be confidential and will not be used beyond inviting and reminding faculty to participate in the survey.  Faculty responses to the survey will be strictly anonymous. Invitations to participate in the survey are confidentially sent out, but once faculty complete the survey, their responses are automatically anonymized and recorded as an anonymous entry.

My Institutional Review Board or administration requires an internal review of this research.  Can you help with this internal review?  Has this survey been reviewed by the Sam Houston State University Institutional Review Board?

The Survey of Assessment Culture has been approved by the Sam Houston State University Institutional Review Board (Protocol Number 2013-08-11722).  A copy of this determination letter can be found online by clicking here.  If additional, institution-specific reviews are necessary, the request for this information should be made by email (assessmentculture@shsu.edu) as soon as possible, but no later than February 9, 2015.  Your request should clearly state the kinds of internal review required, providing a website or guidance for engaging in the review, and offer a contact number and email for the Institutional Review Board representative or administrator overseeing the internal review.  Please also include any special instructions necessary to support a successful review of this effort.  As soon as notification is made, SHSU staff will complete the necessary paperwork and submit it to the appropriate institutional contact.  All institutional reviews must be completed in advance of Aug 15, 2016 in order to ensure that faculty contact information can be received and used for the survey invitation by this deadline.

Will we receive data from this survey?

No.  Currently individual campuses will not receive a data file for this study.  As the study is currently offered free of charge, data files are not able to be generated because this would represent a significant time commitment from the research staff.  However, you will receive a report of your faculty members’ aggregated responses to quantitative data and a print out of open ended responses.  This is done to ensure a level of integrity and comfort in the faculty population being studied.

What are the risks to faculty, administrators, myself, or our institution?

Though the current study has no more than minimal risks, all research has risks.  Some faculty may find the questions challenging to answer.  Administrators may find the survey effort challenging as well, particularly if the topic of the institution’s culture of assessment is contentious or difficult to discuss at your institution.  For some, allowing faculty to respond to the survey’s questions may outweigh the perceived benefits of engaging in the survey.  The survey is meant to spark dialogue and contribute to the scholarship on the often advocated, but seldom understood topic of cultures of assessment in higher education.  However, if reputational or political risks outweigh the potential gain, no institution or individual faculty member is required to participate in the voluntary research.  Finally, there is a risk for participants’ identities to be revealed.  The survey will record responses anonymously, so unless participants identify themselves through demographic or open ended data, participants’ identity cannot be revealed. All participants will be notified of these standards via a statement of informed consent. 

When will the survey launch?

The Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture is tentatively scheduled to launch Sept. 26, 2016.

Can we advertise this survey on our institution?

Yes!  Local advertising the Survey of Assessment Culture to faculty is highly encouraged.  We ask that you offer no more than two specific advertising efforts.  Most often, institution leaders email all selected faculty prior to the survey launching.  Institution leaders have also found it successful to send reminder emails during the survey’s administration.  We ask that you not provide any incentives for participation the survey as this is not approved through our survey protocol and may influence responses for reasons unrelated to the topic under study.  A sample of emails or letters for distribution to your faculty are available upon request.  Many institutions have also found it beneficial to add "Matthew B. Fuller" and "mbf005@shsu.edu" to their institution's spam filter "white list."

Can my institution request that additional questions be added to the survey?  Can we change questions on the survey?

No. The Survey of Assessment Culture instruments have undergone expert reviews, pilot studies, and strategic improvements to explore a theory of assessment culture.  At this time, specific changes or additions to the survey are not possible, though we are investigating this possibility in the future.

Who is leading this research?  Who do I contact if I have more questions?

Dr. Matthew Fuller, Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration and Assistant Dean of Assessment at Sam Houston State University is the Principal Investigator for this annual study.  He may be reached at assessmentculture@shsu.edu or 936.294.1147.

Are there any costs associated with this study?

Currently no fees are charged in participating in the Survey of Assessment Culture.  However, SHSU, Dr. Fuller, and the Council of Scholars are exploring options for a modest fee for participation in the future. Fees would support the costs of hiring research support staff, offering data files, and enhanced reporting and research efforts.