4 factors to consider around campus climate surveys and COVID-19

Expert Insight

4 factors to consider around campus climate surveys and COVID-19

At many colleges and universities, the spring semester is typically when institutions administer campus climate surveys.  These surveys are powerful tools for senior leaders and campus administrators to better understand students’ perceptions and experiences, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and measure year-over-year progress on key initiatives.  

Across the last few days, EAB has received questions from partners wanting to know whether they should move forward with their campus climate survey administration plans given the disruptions caused by COVID-19. 

While institution’s decision about whether to proceed with a survey will differ based on circumstances on-the-ground, we wanted to outline a few broad factors to consider as you make this decision.

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This resource is part of the Improve Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Roadmap. Access the Roadmap for stepwise guidance with additional tools and research.

4 considerations about your campus climate survey and COVID-19
How do messages around the campus climate survey fit with other important communications from the institution about COVID-19, student health and safety, etc? Is there a chance that climate survey messages could crowd out other priority communications?
Current Campus Climate
Many students are anxious and worried not only about their academic future and living situations but also about the health of family and friends. Would launching a survey further stoke this anxiety or negatively impact the campus climate? Given the current feelings on-the-ground in your community, is there a high risk of skewed or unrepresentative responses? For example, some partners have expressed concerns that they might appear out of touch and/or provoke reactions from students such as “can’t believe they’re sending this out/asking us about this when we have a public health crisis/bigger things to worry about.”
Response Rate
The most actionable response rates, on average, start at 10%. We recommend institutions consider whether they would be able to reach this threshold given the current environment. If schools do not reach this threshold, your data is going to be less actionable in terms of assessing campus climate and making changes.
Staff Time and Mindshare
Given all that is happening on campuses with COVID-19, will staff have the time and mindshare to ensure a successful survey launch and administration in the next 4 weeks? If the survey data is collected, will they have time and space to engage with it over the summer months in order to spot trends or areas for improvement?

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