Using Qualtrics responsibly

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Overview

This article outlines the ethical and professional responsibilities of all survey researchers at WSU: students, faculty, and staff. It applies to anyone who uses Qualtrics to gather survey data from any population residing either on or off campus.

Surveying WSU Students

WSU students are invited to participate in many surveys during a typical academic year. Students provide critical feedback on important campus issues, respond to national student surveys, complete course and program evaluations, and participate in faculty and student survey research projects. It is your responsibility to consider the impact of your student survey on other survey research efforts and on the student participant pool as a whole. Are there other student surveys in the field that yours might influence? Will your results be influenced by other surveys? Will your project contribute to students' survey fatigue? Here are a couple tips for managing WSU student surveys responsibly:

Start planning early and consult with IPAR

Give yourself at least six months in advance of the desired launch date to coordinate with others and schedule your survey window properly. Notify Institutional Planning, Assessment, and Research (IPAR) if you plan to administer medium to large-scale student surveys. IPAR is a great resource for you as you plan your student survey. They are aware of many other campus survey research projects already underway and should be consulted early in your planning process.

Consider Assessment Day

Assessment Day is a campus-wide opportunity to gather feedback on how well we are meeting our mission to create a community of learners improving our world. All classes that meet before 3:30 p.m. (except labs and classes that meet once per week) are cancelled on Assessment Day. Managed by IPAR, Assessment Day kicks off in mid-February each year and the surveys remain open for about three weeks. Depending on the nature of your survey, you might include it in the Assessment Day instrument. Contact IPAR to discuss this opportunity. If this is not possible, please do not schedule any student surveys during the Assessment Day window and contact IPAR if your survey window is in close proximity to the start or end of the Assessment Day period.

Minimize survey fatigue

Student survey fatigue is every researcher's problem and we have to work together to reduce it. Over-surveying can reduce response rates and increase response bias across the board.

  1. Never conduct a student survey unless you have well-developed, important research questions and have determined that a survey is the best way to answer those questions.
  2. Never include an item in a survey that is not tied to your research questions. If you don't need it, don't include it.
  3. Coordinate with other campus researchers to schedule your survey at the proper time.
  4. Make it very clear to the respondents approximately how long it will take to complete the survey.
  5. Design your Qualtrics surveys to make it as easy as possible for the respondent to complete. Use skip logic, display logic, and branching to streamline the respondent's experience.

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