Survey Policy

This guidance addresses availability of survey software and replaces the USA Survey Policy of March 2014 and provides guidance for those who wish to send blanket requests for survey participation to the university community.

Availability and use of Class Climate

To assist faculty, staff, and students with research and data collection, the University maintains a contract with Class Climate to provide a free online survey tool to all USA faculty, staff, and students. Contact the Office of Institutional Effectiveness to receive access and training for Class Climate.

Use of Class Climate or similarly secure software will be required when campus units survey USA participants using non-public, identifiable, individual-level information and when there is no IRB approval required (e.g., Student Affairs surveying students to identify areas of improvement). It is expected that IRB-approved research involving surveys will follow approved protocols and expectations of the IRB. For more information about USA IRB visit: http://www.southalabama.edu/researchcompliance/index.html

Requests to send surveys to the campus community via email (e.g., the digest) must be approved by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. The following guidelines are used to make decisions:

  • Time frame: We generally do not approve surveys to be distributed when surveys for University assessment purposes are being conducted (e.g., Student Evaluations of Teaching, USA General Student Survey, etc.).
    • As a general rule, no surveys are distributed to students:
      • During the last three weeks of the semester when Student Evaluations of Teaching and exit/graduating student surveys occur;
      • During the biennial administration of the National Survey for Student Engagement around February in even years;
      • During the annual General Student Survey around the first two weeks of November each fall;
      • During the annual survey of first-year students around the first two weeks of September
    • As a general rule, no surveys are distributed to faculty beginning in April through mid-May when the Faculty Senate Survey, the University Facilities Survey, and Surveys of Dean’s Performance, Administrators occur.
  • Information/Approvals: We look to make sure all relevant information/approvals are in place and included in the communication to the campus community (e.g., IRB approval, researcher’s contact information, supervising professor's information, etc.).
  • University business: We make sure the request comes from an approved USA entity (e.g., student group, graduate student; faculty member, department, division, etc.) and that the survey's content is relevant to the University’s business and/or academic interests.
  • Content/Quality: We review a copy of the survey items to ensure that surveys meet a basic standard of quality. For example, we will not approve surveys that are poorly written (e.g., many typos and/or grammatical issues).

Other considerations

  • We also may request justification of the need for campus-wide distribution instead of using a sample.
  • A maximum of one reminder, in addition to the initial request, will be approved for distribution to the University community.