2021 Commencement Information
Besides the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment (OIRA), many people and organizations on and off of our campus conduct surveys of Whittier students. The number of invitations to participate in on-line surveys has increased dramatically, to the point of survey fatigue.
If you are interested in surveying Whittier students, please consider the following:
Whittier College regularly administers a large Survey Calendar (Moodle login required) to undergraduate students at various stages during their years at Whittier. You may also want to consider alternative methodologies for collecting relevant data such as focus groups, interviews, or observations. These qualitative approaches have important advantages and may be a better choice than a survey. All the data we collect can be used to assess a wide variety of questions relevant to academic and co-curricular development.
Results (Moodle login required)
John N. Gardner Institute
Gardner Results (First-year Students)
National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)
NSSE 2018 Engagement Indicators
NSSE 2018 Engagement Indicators and Top Ten Percent
BCSE 2017/NSSE 2018 Combined Report
Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE)
BCSSE19 Transfer Students
BCSSE19 First Year Students
Higher Education Research Institute (HERI)
DLE 2014 Power Point Presentation
DLE 2014 Factors
DLE 2014 Profile
DLE 2014 Themes
FAC 2016 Constructs
FAC 2016 Profile
FAC 2016 Themes
FAC 2016 PowerPoint
Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium
Alumni Survey Class of 2016 (5 & 10 year out)
Teaching Quality Survey Comparison Report (Fall 2014)
National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement (NASCE)
NASCE 2019 Report
NASCE 2016 Report
National Survey of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE)
NSLVE Report: 2014 and 2018 election
NSLVE Report: 2012 Presidential & 2014 Midterm Election
Surveys and many results are owned by Whittier College and are archived on our Moodle page. The data is provided only to members of the Whittier College community. All external requests must go through the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment (OIRA). The Office requires a minimum of two weeks’ notice for a data request.
Take the time to clearly define the research questions you want to address. Check in with peers and relevant decision-makers to elicit their thoughts on important questions to address. Review the literature on your topic to see how questions have been framed by other researchers, and what related issues or themes should be taken into consideration when exploring this topic.
It is easy to type surveys into web survey software or questions for an interview or focus group, however, that doesn’t mean that they are quality items. We recommend that you give yourself ample time—four to six months is not unreasonable—to develop questions that make sense to you, your team, and the participants. Question items should be “pre-tested” on a small number of individuals from the population of interest and revised on the basis of their feedback.
Avoid the temptation to include questions that may provide interesting but not particularly useful results. Also, consider whether some of the data you want is available through other sources such as institutional files. Any data collection, whether a survey, focus group or interview should begin with a statement that clearly explains:
When developing question items, here are some general guidelines to bear in mind:
Survey methodologists specialize in the construction of survey questions and their response categories. Consider having someone with survey design expertise review your survey instrument. Links to Whittier resources are provided at the end of this document.
Surveys should usually not be administered during periods of peak workloads, or during vacations or holidays. In general, more surveys are run during the spring semester than during the fall, so it might be advantageous to considering fielding a survey in the fall. Check the Survey Calendar to minimize respondent survey fatigue and potential conflict with other surveys. Contact Susana Santos at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your survey added to this calendar so that others can work around it.
If your survey can be considered “research,” it must be reviewed by the Human Subjects & Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Whittier.
It is not necessary to survey an entire population in order to have valid, generalizable results. A random sample will do the job while minimizing costs—including the costs of survey fatigue. If you need help determining an appropriate sample size for your project, you may contact OIRA for assistance.
Many campus surveys offer respondents the chance to be entered into a raffle drawing for prizes. Gift cards and personal electronic devices are common prizes. The literature on survey methodology suggests that these kinds of incentives have a modest impact, increasing the response rate slightly.
Surveys that offer incentives to respondents must track respondent identities in some way. If identifying information (such as names, e-mail addresses, or student identification numbers) are kept with the survey responses and confidentiality is promised to respondents, the study needs a security protocol for keeping the data safe (see next item).
Survey respondents must be notified if their responses will be anonymous, kept confidentially, or are entirely non-confidential. Furthermore, all FERPA requirements must be complied with.
Anonymous data do not include names, addresses, student identification numbers or any other personal information that would make it possible to associate a response with any given individual.
Data that are confidential contain information that may identify an individual respondent. These files must be stored with great attention to data security and access. If you plan to collect confidential data, contact IRP or OIRA for more information on developing a security plan.
Before you begin your survey, develop a plan for analyzing the data and reporting the results. How will you use the collected data? With whom will your results be shared? In what format will results be shared – as visual presentations, written or electronic reports?
Consider how you might share your results with others on campus who are interested in related questions. By sharing your findings with the Whittier College community, you can not only enlighten the campus community about your work, but you may also be able to head-off a new data collection effort. Remember that survey results cannot be presented or published beyond Whittier College without IRB approval.
Human Subjects & Institutional Review Board (IRB): This site contains information about Whittier’s IRB policies, a decision tree to help determine whether your research will require IRB review and approval, and forms to request approval for research.
Whittier’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA): OIRA provides support for scholarly inquiry and assessment, including assistance in survey design, collecting, coding and analyzing data.
Qualtrics Survey Software: Whittier has licensed Qualtrics for creating web-based surveys.