The Office of Institutional Research administers a coordinated suite of surveys to address core needs of the College for comparative, longitudinal data on key trends in undergraduate education. Many of these surveys are administered in concert with other private, selective colleges and universities nationally. In addition, many other areas of the College routinely administer surveys to assess programs and inform their practice. Collectively, they form the basis of many planning, decision-making and program review activities at the College.
A schedule of recent, current and upcoming projects is available to facilitate coordination and communication about institutional surveys:
Conducting Surveys on Campus
A key priority of OIR is to facilitate the responsible use of good data to support Pomona’s educational mission. While a survey can be a powerful tool for gathering needed information, it can also impose unreasonable burdens on our community and result in poor response rates and low quality data for everyone. It takes time, expertise and careful planning to design and implement a good survey, and often data already exist to answer your questions, or alternative methods for information-gathering may be more appropriate.
If you are thinking about conducting a survey on campus, please consider:
- Why? Students, faculty and staff receive many requests to participate in surveys every year, and these requests are burdensome. The desire to satisfy general curiosity alone is not a compelling enough reason to impose this burden. Well-designed and carefully coordinated projects that link to specific priorities and decision-making processes at the College are more likely to be useful and less likely to squander the good will of community members.
- Is a survey the only option? Surveys can be useful for gathering information about general perceptions and trends, but they are not always good tools for ‘diving deep’ into the nuances of specific topics. In many cases, focus groups, structured dialogues and/or interviews may be more useful, and they are perfectly valid ways of gathering information for many purposes. Or, institutional data may already exist that speak to your needs.
- How will the results be used? If you will impose on people’s time to take your survey, it should be very clear how the results will be used: How they will be summarized, circulated and acted upon in service of a specific goal or activity that aligns with Pomona’s educational mission.
It is important to carefully balance the trade-off between imposing on community members with surveys and the need to gather useful data for legitimate educational and institutional priorities.
Pomona does not currently have a standard process for approving surveys by internal campus groups, but the general expectation in our community is that an appropriate campus official will be involved in the decision-making about survey projects, including the design, coordination and planning of any instrument that will be circulated on campus. This may be a supervising faculty member or committee, the appropriate VP under whose purview the target survey population falls (Dean of Students, Dean of Faculty, etc), and/or other campus official(s) whose role would be required to advise on relevant considerations and logistics. In addition, it is always a good idea to consult with the associate dean who works with IRB on issues of research involving human subjects:
Given the amount of survey activity on our campus for internal needs and priorities, survey projects by external researchers and groups are restricted. These requests should go through the Office of Institutional Research and/or the appropriate Vice President.