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Guidelines for Surveys of Students

Those planning a survey should contact the Institutional Review Board to obtain the appropriate review and approval.

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January 28, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has guidelines to be used when conducting surveys of students.

Student surveys are done for a variety of purposes, including assessment of their academic and campus life experiences and their satisfaction with various student services. Students are also often surveyed as subjects in national studies and those conducted locally by Northwestern faculty and students.

In a message to deans, chairs and directors, President Henry S. Bienen said, "Oversight and coordination of surveys of students are essential to minimize the burden on students, avoid redundancy in surveys, obtain high response rates, and to ensure that surveys of students follow University policies and standards."

Those planning a survey should contact the Institutional Review Board (IRB) <http://www.research.northwestern.edu/oprs/irb/> to obtain the appropriate review and approval for research with human subjects.

For a survey of students that is University-wide -- for example, if the target population is all undergraduates or students across multiple schools -- the Student Surveys Planning Group (SSPG) should be contacted for its review and consultation. Information is available at the following URL: <http://www.adminplan.northwestern.edu/ir/sspg.htm>.

The SSPG provides consultation that includes assisting with the coordination of the timing of surveys, as well as maximizing response rates and minimizing redundancy with other surveys. They also assist with determining the appropriate target population and sampling design, and resources required to conduct a survey. They ensure that University policies and standards are met.

Those planning to to survey students only within a specific school should contact the appropriate dean's office for review.
Topics: University