University-Wide Surveys

Definition:Surveys of campus constituents (i.e., students, faculty, and staff) are widely recognized as an important means for collecting information that can maintain and assure educational quality, enhance institutional effectiveness, and improve student satisfaction. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that university surveys of campus constituents are conducted in a manner that minimizes redundancy and frequency of surveys and follows guidelines for survey deployment. In order to achieve these goals, all university surveys of campus constituents will be coordinated through the University Survey Committee. This policy defines the role of the University Survey Committee and coordination procedures for these surveys.
Authority:Authority of the campus President.
Scope:This policy applies to any survey of campus constituents except (a) administrative or research surveys that target a focused sample; (b) research surveys that utilize the Human Participant Pool or other convenience sample; (c) administrative surveys designed to solicit feedback from participants regarding a specific campus event.
Responsible Division:Office of the President
Approval Date:10/01/2015
Implementation Date:10/01/2015
Originally Implemented:12/14/2007
Signature Page/PDF:View Signatures for University-Wide Surveys Policy



A) Campus constituent is defined as:

  1. Any prospective, current, or former student; or
  2. Any current university employee (staff, faculty, or administrator).

B) University survey is defined as:

  1. A survey for which the sample is comprised of 100 or more prospective, current, or former students;
  2. A survey for which the sample is comprised of 50 or more university employees (staff, faculty, or administrators); or
  3. A survey for which the sample is randomly selected from a population of campus constituents.

C) Administrative surveys are conducted for the purposes of program evaluation, needs assessment, or quality control, in which findings are solely intended for use in internal program planning and development, and are not designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge.

D) Research surveys are designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge (e.g., theory building, building upon others’ work in a field or discipline) which may be disseminated through a scholarly paper, conference presentation or poster, or other academic outlets.

E) Focused sample is defined as:
(a) A sample of fewer than 100 prospective, current, or former students within the surveyor’s immediate course, academic program, or department; or(b) A sample of fewer than 50 university employees (staff, faculty, or administrators) within the surveyor’s immediate department or unit.

F) Focused surveys are administrative or research surveys that are administered to a focused sample.

G) The Institutional Review Board (IRB) assures ethical conduct and the protection of human subjects in research according to federal regulations and university policy; however, the IRB does not approve access to university resources or large groups of campus constituents for surveys. This authority is delegated to the University Survey Committee.


A) University Survey Committee composition
One representative each from Academic Affairs, Financial and Administrative Services, Institutional Planning and Analysis, Instructional and Informational Technology Services (IITS), Student Affairs, and University Communications.

B) University Survey Committee tasks

  1. Review university survey proposals to ensure the information sought serves university interests and is not already available in another form.
  2. Coordinate the administration of university surveys to minimize overlap and duplication in content, sampling, and scheduling.
  3. Provide support and/or training for university survey development, administration, and analysis.
  4. Approve university survey requests by outside entities.
  5. Maintain a university survey calendar, which will be posted on the Institutional Planning and Analysis website.

C) Frequency of meetings of the University Survey Committee
Monthly or as needed.


A) Any person/unit who wishes to administer a university survey must first obtain approval from the University Survey Committee.

B) To obtain approval to administer a university survey, the individual must provide the University Survey Committee with the following information at least 30 days in advance of the proposed survey launch date:

  1. The name of the survey.
  2. The person and unit responsible for the survey.
  3. The purpose of the survey.
  4. A description of the proposed sample and rationale for sample selection.
  5. The intended method of survey administration (e.g., email, web, mail, etc.).
  6. The proposed survey administration schedule:
    (a) dates the survey will be administered, including dates for any reminder notifications and pre- or post-notifications to encourage participation
    (b) frequency of survey administration (e.g., annually, biannually)
  7. A description of any planned incentive program for respondents.
  8. An explanation of how the surveyor will ensure voluntary participation and address issues of confidentiality and anonymity.
  9. Acknowledgement that university survey administration and analysis must comply with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); university standards for Confidentiality of Employee, Student, and Faculty Data; university policy on Human Subjects Protection in Research; and university accessibility policies.
  10. A draft of any proposed survey communications (e.g., invitation to participate, reminder, thank you). Communications must address issues of confidentiality and anonymity, as well as the voluntary nature of the survey.
  11. A draft of the survey items.
  12. Approval of an MPP within the individual’s department or unit.

C) The University Survey Committee will consider the following criteria when reviewing university survey proposals. Prior to approval, the University Survey Committee will offer recommendations for any actions needed to bring the university survey into alignment with these criteria.

  1. Relevance to university mission, values, and strategic plan(s)
  2. Minimal burden on campus constituents
  3. Usefulness of data to inform university decisions
  4. Efficient use of university resources
  5. Value to the broader population of campus constituents
  6. Clarity and functionality of survey and related communications
  7. Compliance with FERPA, university standards for confidentiality and information security, university policy on Human Subjects Protection in Research, and university accessibility policies.

D) Upon approval, the university survey will be added to the university survey calendar maintained by Institutional Planning and Analysis.

E) All university surveys must include the following notation: Approved by CSUSM University Survey Committee (month/year-month/year).


A) Requests for assistance with university survey development, administration, and analysis will be reviewed by the committee and, if needed, referred to Institutional Planning and Analysis.

B) The university maintains a limited number of online survey software licenses that may be granted to an individual, department, or unit for the purpose of survey administration. Institutional Planning and Analysis will offer basic training and technical support to individuals intending to use university-purchased licenses for online survey software.

C) If resources permit, Institutional Planning and Analysis and/or the University Survey Committee will also consider requests for consultation and assistance with the development, administration, and analysis of focused surveys.