Student Affairs Survey FAQ

  1. What are you asking our student affairs staff to do?
  2. What does the survey cover?  Is the survey controversial or risky?
  3. What will I or my division receive?  How will we benefit from participation?
  4. Why should my divisions’ staff 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 staff 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 staff, 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. Who is invited to participate in this survey?
  16. Is there any cost associated with this survey?

What are you asking our student affairs staff to do?

Student affairs staff participating in the Student Affairs Survey of Assessment Culture will be asked to participate in an online survey of their perspectives related to your division’s culture of assessment.  Responses are anonymously recorded and staff 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 staff can discontinue their participation in the survey at any time.  The average time to complete the Student Affairs Survey of Assessment Culture in prior administrations was twenty-two minutes.

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

Most of the questions on the survey are neither risky nor controversial.  However, some of the questions ask staff to assess the division’s administration, faculty, and staff commitments to assessment.  The survey also covers staff members’ perceptions of resources for assessment, the purpose of assessment in your division, and staff members’ reasons for engaging in or avoiding assessment.  To reduce risk, none of the questions are required to complete the survey and staff can discontinue their participation in the survey at any time.  A draft listing of the survey’s questions can be found online by clicking here.

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

In addition to supporting the development of the scholarship on cultures of assessment in student affairs, your division’s assessment designee 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.   Reports will be available in late summer.  Please review the required Information Sharing Agreement (MS Word; PDF) for more information

Why should my division’s staff participate?

Participants will be making a valuable contribution to the scholarship on the understudied concept of cultures of assessment.  They will also be contributing to your division’s conversation on its culture of assessment.  Additionally, participation in this survey could support staff members' desires to engage other colleagues in dialogue about assessment efforts.

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

Since 2015, over 10,200 faculty, staff, and administrators from institutions across the nation have participated in the Administrators Survey of Assessment Culture and the Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture.  The Student Affairs Survey of Assessment Culture is in the initial phases of a nation-wide administration, having been successfully piloted to select institution in 2014-2015.  Prior administrations of the Surveys of Assessment Culture have resulted in useful information to initiate institutional dialogue about institutional cultures of assessment, course and program improvement, and accreditation.  Assessment and institutional research directors have found the study results useful in engaging faculty about perceptions of the institution’s culture of assessment.  We anticipate similar benefits to student affairs leaders.  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.  Finally, the reports, resources, and presentations done by research staff have been useful in refining institution cultures of assessment on a number of institutions.  Check out our research page for more information on scholarship published from prior studies with parallel instruments.

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

“Our VP of Student Affairs asked our staff to provide honest feedback through the [Student Affairs] Survey of Assessment Culture.  This information was invaluable in nudging our [Division’s] assessment culture in the right direction…We have seen tremendous improvements in how we do things now.”

Lester Q., Director of Student Affairs Assessment

What do I need to provide?  How difficult is it to complete the information required for our staff 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 Student Affairs Survey of Assessment Culture. 

  • Consider whether additional IRB approval is needed.  The Sam Houston State University Institutional Review Board has reviewed and approved this research protocol.  A letter supporting this determination can be found online by clicking here.  If additional submissions to your institution’s IRB are necessary, please notify Dr. Matthew Fuller at assessmentculture@shsu.edu prior to April 18, 2016.  Within reason, staff members from Sam Houston State University are willing to support your institutional review processes. Due: April 18, 2016.
  • Submit a listing of the email addresses of all student affairs staff at the Mid-manage level or higher employed during the Spring 2016 semester.  Use the contact file template. Supply only the institutional email addresses for all student affairs staff considered mid-managers or higher.  It is up to each division to determine the most meaningful listing of staff participants and to communicate that to the research team via the contact file template.  Limited demographic data for staff will be included in the survey.  However, no names should be submitted to the research team.  Attach your staff contact listing to an email addressed to assessmentculture@shsu.edu.  Questions or concerns about this sampling approach?  Need special assistance or consideration?  Contact Dr. Matthew Fuller at assessmentculture@shsu.edu. Due: May 9, 2016.
  • Sign and submit the Information Sharing Agreement.  This form outlines the kinds of data SHSU will retain from your staff members’ responses, how these data will be used (solely for research purposes), and the nature of the information and services you will receive in return.  This form can be found online fill-able MS Word and PDF forms.  You may either email your signed form to assessmentculture@shsu.edu or fax it to 936.294.3886. Due: May 9, 2016.
  • Advertise for the survey on your campus.  Prior divisions have found it beneficial to send invited participants an email from a respected division leader to reinforce the usefulness of the data to student affairs divisions.  The survey will open May16, 2016 for administration across the summer 2016.  Survey Launch: May 16, 2016.

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

For each division participating in the study, the listing of staff invited to participate in the Survey will be confidential and will not be used beyond inviting and reminding staff to participate in the survey.  Staff responses to the survey will be strictly anonymous since responses to a survey will not be associated with participants’ email address, IP addresses, or contact information in any way.  Email addresses will be disassociated with participants’ responses once they enter the survey, making the invitation to participate confidential, but the response to the survey is anonymous.  

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 April 18, 2016.  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 April 18, 2016 in order to ensure that staff contact information can be received and used for the survey invitation prior to the survey’s launch.

Will we receive data from this survey?

No.  Currently divisions will not receive a data file for this study.  However, you will receive a report of your staff 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 staff population being studied.

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

Though the current study has no more than minimal risks, all research has risks.  Some staff 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 staff 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 staff 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 Student Affairs Survey of Assessment Culture is tentatively scheduled to launch the week of May 16, 2015.

Can we advertise this survey on our institution?

Yes!  Local advertising the Survey of Assessment Culture to staff is highly encouraged.  We ask that you offer no more than two specific advertising efforts.  Most often, institution leaders email all selected staff prior to or during the survey.  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 email or letter for distribution to your staff are available by clicking here.

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 is the Principal Investigator for this annual study.  He may be reached at assessmentculture@shsu.edu or 936.294.1147.

Who is invited to participate in this research?

All student affairs staff considered mid-managers or higher are invited to participate in the Student Affairs Survey of Assessment Culture.  It is up to each division to determine the most meaningful listing of staff participants and to communicate that to the research team via the contact file template.  Limited demographic data for staff will be included in the survey.  However, no names should be submitted to the research team.  Attach your contact listing in the Contact file template (MS Word; PDF) to an email addressed to assessmentculture@shsu.edu.  Questions or concerns about this sampling approach?  Need special assistance or consideration?  Contact Dr. Matthew Fuller at assessmentculture@shsu.edu. Due: May 9, 2016.

Is there any cost associated with this survey?

Currently, the Student Affairs Survey of Assessment Culture is offered free of charge as a means of improving institutional cultures of assessment.