Best Practices: PACE Survey Administration

1. Promote the survey

We all receive too many emails and are conditioned to ignore emails that we think are SPAM or that we do not think have anything to do with us. If you receive an invitation to participate in a climate survey out of the blue, you are more likely to skip the email entirely. Promoting the PACE survey beforehand will help increase its visibility so that invitation emails are opened as opposed to being skipped. Some great ways to promote the survey include: email announcements from a Chancellor or President, discussing the survey at meetings, promotional fliers in common areas, and mentioning the survey through institutional social media accounts. An email from the President or another leadership team member emphasizes that completing the survey is important to the institution. In the email announcement for the upcoming survey, we suggest that you include brief text to explain the value of the data to be collected from the survey. For example, you may mention how the administration is planning to utilize the data or what are some specific reasons that drive the administration of the survey. Communicating with your IT department about the survey administration is also critical for ensuring a successful delivery of PACE survey invitation emails.

2. Timing is important

Sometimes there is not enough time in the semester or quarter to do everything that we want to do. Most clients will leave the survey open for 2-3 weeks. Response rates are higher when you have a captive audience. Picking a timeframe too close to holidays or university breaks will hurt response rates. Additionally, we find survey invitation and reminder emails are less effective when sent out on a Monday or a Friday.

3. Include everyone

Everyone’s voice at your institution should be heard. For example, adjunct or part-time faculty may be more difficult to track down but their numbers are growing on campuses. We encourage clients to survey all members of their institution and spend time creating a clean, comprehensive email participant list. An accurate email list will increase response rates. If all employees do not have email addresses, we can provide an open link for you to use on a designated computer where employees can come to the office to take the PACE survey.

4. Create good custom items

Certain survey characteristics can encourage response breakoff like difficult or long questions or poor survey design. Qualtrics is a wonderful platform and we have worked hard to make the PACE survey easily accessible and clean on most devices. For these reasons, when customizing your survey, we encourage you to make your custom items simple. Good, simple custom items are also timeless so you will be setting yourself up for meaningful comparisons in future survey administrations. Only the exact same questions can be compared between administrations. Click here for examples of custom items that other institutions have used.

5. Use the results

Survey-taking fatigue is a real problem for institutions of higher education. We all receive many requests and demands on our time, especially in the form of surveys. When we do not think our feedback will be valued appropriately, then we are less likely to want to take surveys.  Make sure to have a transparent plan to disseminate and use your survey results. When constituents see that their time on the survey is valued, they will be more likely to participate. This practice will also help create a more active survey-taking culture on your campus.