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Who will be conducting the survey?

Cal Poly has a contract with Professor Susan "Sue" Rankin, of Rankin & Associates Consulting, who has assessed the campus climate on over 100 higher education institutions in the United States. With R. Reason, she developed an assessment model, called the “Transformational Tapestry Model”, which is a "comprehensive, five-phase, and strategic model of assessment, planning, and intervention. The model is designed to assist campus communities in conducting inclusive assessments of their institutional climate to better understand the challenges facing their respective communities" (Rankin & Reason, 2008).

How were the questions developed?

A Cal Poly campus climate working group was established in fall 2013. Together with Dr. Rankin, the working group discussed over 200 possible survey questions she provided. After deliberation about each question, the working group chose the survey questions it maintains are best for the first campus climate study to be conducted at Cal Poly. In many cases the working group had to change the wording of the questions to fit Cal Poly (e.g., titles). The working group also developed some questions.

Why do some demographic questions contain a very large number of response options?

In line with best campus climate survey practices, the campus climate working group chose to include in the demographic questions a wide range of response options so that participants could identify as closely as possible their background and experiences. The resulting responses should give Cal Poly community members a deeper understanding of what our diversity as a campus really is.

What was the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process for this study?

The Principal Investigator, Dr. Rachel Fernflores, submitted the Human Subjects Protocol Approval Form for review by the Human Subjects Committee. It was approved on February 6, 2014. In the form, Dr. Fernflores indicated that participation in the survey is confidential. Furthermore, she indicated that she is aware that she or others may use data collected from the survey for future research.

What is the response rate goal and what limitations exist if that goal is not met?

An ideal response rate would be 100%. However, a 30% or higher response rate from each of the faculty, staff, and student groups is adequate to generate an accurate report about the campus climate at Cal Poly.

How will respondents be notified about privacy and data uses?

In the introductory section of the survey the consultant will include the following information for survey respondents (note that some of the following information is provided by Dr. Rankin and is also listed at - faq-05):

  1. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary, and participants do not have to answer any question except the first positioning question (staff, faculty, student), and can skip questions about which they are uncomfortable.
  2. Data may be subject to California Public Records Act (PRA) requests. Raw data in its entirety could be withheld from a PRA request due to FERPA and other privacy laws that prevent the release of personally identifiable information. Due to the large number of demographic questions, each survey response will be treated as potentially individual identifiable, even though no specific identifiers will be collected. Raw data for specific indicators would likely be subject to disclosure upon request; but any information that could be used to directly identify an individual would be redacted from the records to protect the privacy of individual survey respondents.
  3. Data will be used for administrative purposes to inform current and ongoing work regarding issues of campus climate. Cal Poly requires raw data to conduct additional analysis for administrative purposes since the consultant will provide only a high-level summary of trends and frequent themes in reports. Dr. Fernflores, the principal investigator and campus data coordinator of this project, will manage campus use of data for administrative purposes and maintain data use restrictions, including measures to protect confidentiality, de-identification of data, and minimum cell size, as stated in the original scope of the project.
  4. Data may be used for research purposes, but will be subject to Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Researchers who want to use data will submit an application outlining the scope of the research project, and must receive IRB approval.
  5. Data may be used for longitudinal studies. Data below minimum cell size will be purged when it is stored for longitudinal studies. Any data from cell less than 5 will be aggregated.
  6. Respondent authentication (user sign-on) is utilized only to verify eligibility and will not be associated with survey responses.

How is a respondent's confidentiality protected?

Note that some of the following information is provided by Dr. Rankin and is also listed at - faq-05:

Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly as sensitive and personal topics are discussed. While the survey cannot guarantee complete confidentiality because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the consultant will take multiple measures to enhance individual confidentiality and the de-identification of data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., social security number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey.

In the event of any publication or presentation resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared. Confidentiality in participating will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used (e.g., IP addresses will be stripped when the survey is submitted). No guarantees can be made regarding the interception of data sent via the Internet by any third parties; however, to avoid interception of data, the survey is run on a firewalled Web server with forced 256-bit SSL security. In addition, the consultant and the campus data coordinator will not report any group data for groups of fewer than five individuals because those "small cell sizes" may be small enough to compromise confidentiality. Instead, the consultant will combine the groups or take other measures to eliminate any potential for demographic information to be identifiable. Additionally, any comments submitted in response to the survey will be separated at the time of submission to the consultant so that they are not attributed to any individual demographic characteristics. Dr. Rankin and Associates will redact identifiable information submitted in qualitative comments and Cal Poly will receive only these redacted comments.

Participation in the survey is completely voluntary. Participants do not have to answer any question except the first positioning question (staff, faculty, student), and can skip questions for which they are uncomfortable. Paper and pencil surveys also are available, and will be sent directly to the consultant.

The campus data coordinator is held to the same standards as the consultant, as would be any future researchers intending to conduct secondary data analysis. In addition, secondary data analysis with the intended use of publishing (research) will require IRB approval, and the guarantees of data protection as required by IRB protocols. Researchers wishing to conduct secondary data analysis will be required to submit an application to Cal Poly and must enter into an agreement to guarantee safeguarding of original data confidentiality and the use of an appropriate security protocol.

Are there incentives for completing the survey?

Yes, please see

How will I access the survey and how am I entered into the incentives drawing?

Please see:

Is there a paper/pencil survey available?

Yes, Paper pencil surveys are available. They are located at the front desk in the library. Along with the paper and pencil survey there is a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Participants who complete the paper/pencil surveys will simply place it in the envelope and send it directly to Rankin and Associates.

Will participants completing the paper/pencil survey be entered into the "Thank You" drawing?

Participants completing a paper/pencil survey will have the option to include their contact information if they choose to enter the drawing. Contact information will be separated from responses.

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