Frequently Asked Questions
The following frequently-asked questions are related to the timeline following ISU's 2017 Campus Climate Survey for Learning, Living, and Working .
Other questions about the survey can be answered by conducting a keyword search within one of the climate study documents or browsing the pre-survey FAQ list. If a search of those resources and this page does not answer your questions, please utilize the following contacts for information.
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access of the survey dataset
survey design or administration
After a review of potential vendors, the Climate Survey Working Group (CSWG) selected Rankin and Associates Consulting to conduct the survey. Rankin and Associates reported directly to the committee. Susan Rankin (Rankin and Associates Consulting) is the consultant working directly with us on this project. Rankin is an emeritus faculty member of Education Policy Studies and College Student Affairs at The Pennsylvania State University and a senior research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. She has extensive experience in institutional climate assessment and institutional climate transformation based on data-driven action and strategic planning. Rankin has conducted multi-location institutional climate studies at more than 170 institutions across the country. She developed and utilizes the Transformational Tapestry model as a research design for campus climate studies. The model is a "comprehensive, five-phase 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 and Reason, 2008).
Questions about the survey and its development can be answered by browsing the pre-survey FAQ list.
Iowa State has worked with the consultant to develop a research data security description and protocol, which includes specific information on data encryption, the handling of personally identifiable information, physical security and a protocol for handling unlikely breaches of data security. The data from online participants will be submitted to a secure server hosted by the consultant. The survey is run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security and is stored on a SQL database that can only be accessed locally. The server itself may only be accessed using encrypted SSH connections originating from the local network. Rankin and Associates Consulting project coordinator Susan Rankin will have access to the raw data along with several Rankin and Associates data analysts. All Rankin and Associates analysts have CITI (Human Subjects) training and approval and have worked on similar projects for other institutions. The web server runs with the SE-Linux security extensions (that were developed by the NSA). The server is also in RAID to highly reduce the chance of any data loss due to hardware failure. The server performs a nightly security audit from data acquired via the system logs and notifies the administrators. The number of system administrators will be limited and each will have had required background checks.
The consultant has conducted more than 170 institutional surveys and maintains an aggregate merged database. The data from the Iowa State University project will be merged with all other existing climate data stored indefinitely on the consultant's secure server. No institutional identifiers are included in the full merged data set held by the consultant. The raw unit-level data with institutional identifiers is kept on the server for six months and then destroyed. The paper and pencil surveys are returned to the consultant directly and kept in a locked file drawer in a locked office. The consultant destroys the paper and pencil responses after they are merged with the online data. The consultant will notify the committee chairs of any breach or suspected breach of data security of the consultant's server.
Documents and artifacts related to the survey results are available to the public from the climate study documents page.
The consultant has provided a final report that includes: an executive summary; a report narrative of the findings based on cross tabulations selected by the consultant; frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations of quantitative data; and content analysis of the textual data. The reports provide high-level summaries of the findings and will identify themes found in the data. Generalizations for populations are limited to those groups or subgroups with response rates of at least 30%.
President Wintersteen has charged four implementation teams with moving forward on actionable information from the survey results that will address the experiences of:
- undergraduate students (led by senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon)
- graduate students and postdoctoral scholars (led by Graduate College dean Bill Graves)
- faculty (led by senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert)
- merit and professional & scientific employees (led by vice president for diversity and inclusion Reg Stewart)
The final dataset is housed in the Office of Institutional Research and its director serves as ISU's primary investigator for the climate survey. The process of releasing data to interested investigators who submit proposals will commence after November 1, 2018.
A sub-committee of the original Climate Study Work Group will review requests for access to the dataset. The dataset access review committee is chaired by the director of the Office of Institutional Research, who serves as ISU's primary investigator for the climate survey.
Process summary for individuals requesting data
- Prospective investigator forwards one-page proposal to sub-committee via firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sub-committee reviews the proposal to see if the research question can be examined with the current data without compromising confidentiality
- If approved by the sub-committee, the prospective researcher is contacted and advised to submit an IRB application for the project requesting secondary use of the data set
- If approved by the IRB, the researcher is provided only with the data necessary to respond to the question
- Data are provided in an aggregated format to ensure confidentiality of the respondents
Process summary for unit heads/college deans requesting data
- Request forwarded to ISU primary investigator Sandy Gahn via email@example.com
- Primary investigator examines the data from the unit or college to see if the 30% threshold was reached
- If the threshold was reached, the primary investigator Sandy Gahn provides unit/college with a report for data specific to the unit/college
- The report template for units/colleges is developed by the primary investigator Sandy Gahn in collaboration with the CSWG
Requests for the entire dataset will be reviewed by the dataset access review committee and decisions made on a case-by-case basis.