PACE Survey Instrument

Survey Instrument
Demographic Questions
Custom Items
Key Benefits of PACE


The Personal Assessment of the College Environment (PACE) is an innovative online tool for your institution to easily assess its progress and highlight areas for growth using an employee survey. The PACE survey helps higher education institutions define areas needing change or improvement and sets the stage for more in-depth planning. In the PACE model, the leadership of an institution motivates each of these climate factors toward an outcome of student success and institutional effectiveness. Information about the report structure can be found by viewing a sample report.


The purpose of the PACE survey is to promote open and constructive communication and to establish priorities for change by obtaining the satisfaction estimate of employees concerning the campus climate. Using a six-point scale, respondents are asked to select their survey response to items divided into four domains: institutional structure, supervisory relationships, teamwork, and student focus. Confidentiality is important to NILIE, for information on confidentiality please see our FAQ page.

  • The Institutional Structure climate factor focuses on the mission, leadership, spirit of cooperation, structural organization, decision-making, and communication within the institution.  
  • Supervisory Relationships provides insight into the relationship between an employee and a supervisor and an employee’s ability to be creative and express ideas related to the employee’s work.  
  • Teamwork explores the spirit of cooperation within work teams and effective coordination within teams.
  • The Student Focus climate factor considers the centrality of students to the actions of the institution as well as the extent to which students are prepared for post-institution endeavors.

Together, the unique focus of each climate factor provides a comprehensive picture of campus climate at an institution.

The PACE survey provides a snapshot of how your institution is performing, highlights areas for growth and identifies opportunities for improvement, and provides a starting point for strategic planning.

Survey Instrument

Sample PACE Survey Instrument
Survey Reliability and Validity


  • 46 standard questions- they may not be modified in any way
  • 12 new, standard questions that focus on student success (optional)
  • Up to 20 custom questions of your choosing
  • 8 demographic items
  • 3 custom demographic items determined by your institution
  • 2 open-ended questions
  • Respondents are asked to mark their response to questions on a six-point scale. Choices on the scale are:
    Photo courtesy of Harford Community College
    Photo courtesy of Harford Community College
    • Very satisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Dissatisfied
    • Very dissatisfied
    • Not applicable
  • Standard questions are associated with the four climate factors. Examples of standard questions by climate factor are:


    • The extent to which the actions of this institution reflect its mission
    • The extent to which decisions are made at the appropriate level


    • The extent to which my supervisor seriously considers my idea
    • The extent to which I am given the opportunity to be creative in my work


    • The extent to which there is a spirit of cooperation within my work team
    • The extent to which my work team coordinates its efforts with appropriate individuals and teams


    • The extent to which student needs are central to what we do
    • The extent to which students are satisfied with their educational experience at this institution

Demographic Questions

PACE staff includes the following demographic questions in the PACE survey:

What is your personnel classification?

Photo courtesy of Harford Community College
Photo courtesy of Harford Community College
  • Faculty
  • Administrator
  • Staff

Your status at this institution is:

  • Full time
  • Part time

What gender are you?

  • Man
  • Woman
  • Another gender identity
  • I prefer not to respond

Please select the race/ethnicity that best describes you:

  • Hispanic or Latino, of any race
  • American Indian or Alaska Native, not Hispanic or Latino
  • Asian, not Hispanic or Latino
  • Black, not Hispanic or Latino
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, not Hispanic or Latino
  • White, not Hispanic or Latino
  • Two or more races, not Hispanic or Latino

What is the highest degree you have earned?

Photo courtesy of Madison Area Technical College
Photo courtesy of Madison Area Technical College
  • First Professional degree (e.g., M.D., D.D.S., J.D., D.V.M.)
  • Doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.D.)
  • Master’s degree
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Associate’s degree
  • High School diploma or GED
  • No diploma or degree

How many years have you worked at this institution?

How many years have you worked in higher education?

You were born in 19__.

In addition to these questions, clients may include up to three custom demographic questions in the PACE survey.

Custom Items

Clients may choose up to 20 Custom Questions to include in the PACE survey.

Photo courtesy of Madison Area Technical College
Photo courtesy of Madison Area Technical College

These questions should start with “the extent to which…”
Examples of custom questions can be viewed in our custom question library

Clients may develop custom open-ended questions for an additional per question fee.

Key Benefits of PACE

  • Quick and easy administration
  • Online survey
  • Inclusive approach
  • Cost effective
  • Well-tested, reputable instrument
  • Easy to understand summary reports
  • Detailed narratives of results

Clients use results from the PACE survey in many ways, including:

  • To develop a strategic plan or evaluate the effectiveness of strategic plan implementation
  • As a guide to campus climate before, during, or after a structural change in institutional organization or leadership
  • To fulfill accreditation requirements
  • To measure growth or change in institutional climate and effectiveness over a multi-year period
  • As a means to better understand campus issues