Since the 2016 Climate Study, our campuses and communities have experienced a great deal that makes it critical that we try to understand the current climate at Kent State University. Recent events on and off campus, specifically the heightened social unrest in 2020-2021, have highlighted this point. This survey also coincides with recent realignment of university offices and resources and the establishment of new structures at the university all with the aim of better serving the needs of our community. These efforts, and specifically this important study, represent our continued commitment to the inclusion of all voices as we shape the future of the university.
University climate is defined as “the current attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices of employees and students of an institution.” The climate is often shaped through personal experiences, perceptions and institutional efforts.
Each member of the Kent State University community receives a unique link to the survey at their @kent.edu email address in the initial message announcing the opening of the survey. A first step to finding your link would be to review your email for the message that contains this link. Be sure to check junk and trash folders in case the message ended up there. Additionally, up to two more reminders/invitations were to be sent on an “as needed” basis; that is, if you have successfully completed the survey, you will not receive additional email reminders since they are not necessary (but please encourage others to complete the survey!). Should you have other issues with taking the survey, the Survey Research Lab has a team of project managers who can help. Please reach out to Tim Rose, senior project manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Greg Gibson, Kent State University Department of Sociology and Criminology’s Survey Research Lab director, email@example.com.
As the university is constantly in pursuit of ways to better serve and understand the needs and experiences of our communities, multiple surveys focusing on different aspects of the university experience are conducted throughout the year. While other surveys may ask questions related to climate, this year’s climate study has a specific focus on issues related to race. This survey also involves gathering input from all students, faculty and staff rather than focusing on specific groups. This will help us understand the climate from various perspectives on campus.
The Climate Study Steering Committee (CSSC), which includes a cross section of Kent State University students, faculty and staff, is overseeing Kent State’s climate survey. Additionally, Kent State University Department of Sociology and Criminology’s Survey Research Lab is providing direct technical and developmental assistance on this survey.
Working with a diverse set of university community members, the Kent State University Sociology and Criminology Department’s Survey Research Lab led the effort to create and administer the survey. The current survey includes benchmarking questions that reference 2016 questions and data to assess progress in select areas of the campus climate. It also includes new items specifically targeting the current focus of the 2021 survey and recent events both on and off campus. With a shift to under 15 minutes and a keener focus on racial climate for the 2021 survey, some new items were developed and cognitively tested with individuals representing various roles in the KSU community (students, faculty, staff), different races, different ethnicities, and different levels of ableism. Adjustments were made drawing upon knowledge obtained in this testing process.
It is important in campus climate research for survey participants to “see” themselves in response choices to prevent “othering” an individual or an individual’s characteristics. Although it is reasonably impossible to include every possible choice to every question, the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”
The primary investigator from Kent State University for the IRB process is Gregory Gibson, director of the Survey Research Lab in the Kent State University Department of Sociology and Criminology. IRB approval has been secured. See IRB Protocol #21-061.
While the committee believes the survey process itself is informative, we have received a commitment from Kent State President Todd Diacon and senior leaders that collected data will be used to plan for an improved climate at Kent State University. As we did in 2016, the results will be used to create and inform both universitywide effort and unit-level diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plans.
While 100% participation would be ideal, we understand based upon the last survey that this may not be possible. Every response matters and is valuable in providing the most beneficial feedback and results. In 2016, we received great response rates from faculty (34%) and staff (55%). We would love to meet or exceed those rates in 2021. In the previous survey, we received a lower-than-desired response from students (16%). This time we are focusing on increasing the student response rate (goal of 25%). We would appreciate it if you would help us achieve our goal by encouraging other students to complete this survey. The more responses we receive, the richer the results and the more accurate the data collected will be, so please do your part and not only take the survey yourself, but also encourage others to participate!
Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly if sensitive and personal topics are discussed. No identifiable personal information will be collected (e.g., student ID number, email address) nor is encouraged. While the survey cannot guarantee complete confidentiality because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the data analysis team will take multiple precautionary 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 this important survey. In the event of any publication or presentation resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared, and results will only be reported in the aggregate (by the group). In addition, the data collection and protection will be in line with the University’s Privacy Statement.
Participation in the survey is completely voluntary, and participants do not have to answer any question — except the first positioning question (student, staff or faculty) — and can skip any other questions they consider to be uncomfortable. Response options of “Don’t know” and “Prefer not to answer” are provided for that purpose.
The Climate Study Committee will provide a final report that will include an executive summary and a report narrative of the findings through both qualitative and quantitative analysis. 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%. This is why we need everyone to participate.
This initiative includes five primary phases. The first involved survey development (Fall 2020); the second involves survey implementation (that seeks input from all faculty, staff and students) and reporting of preliminary results (Spring 2021); the third involves reporting of final results and sharing results with established task forces and committees for developing university-level actions (Fall 2021); the fourth phase involves development of goals in strategic plans by units and colleges (Spring 2022); and the fifth involves college and unit-level implementation of actions (Fall 2022).
Your questions and comments are very important as we move through this process. Please share by contacting a Climate Study Steering Committee Co-Chair.