Large-Scale Survey Coordination


The purpose of the large-scale survey coordination process is to support the collection of high-quality, useful survey data, and to maintain a record of all large-scale surveys planned for a given semester/year to prevent over-surveying any given population on campus. A “large-scale survey” is any survey that is intended to be administered to one or more full populations of the College, including St. Olaf students, staff, faculty, alumni, emeriti/retired employees, and parents of current students, OR significant subgroups (10% or more) of any of these populations. Specifically, we aim to ensure that:

  1. Institutional and leadership needs for high quality data and information, gathered directly from institutional constituents, are relevant and sufficient to assess institutional goals and priorities;
  2. Survey results are shared with the community as appropriate;
  3. No single group or set of constituents is over-burdened in any given year with multiple requests for survey or questionnaire completion in fulfilling institutional, leadership, scholarship, pedagogical, and student needs; and that
  4. Survey projects align with the college mission

To view our survey database, click here.

Survey Coordinating Process

The Survey Coordinating Team (SCT) should be notified of all large-scale surveys before administration, unless listed among the exceptions in the flow chart below. 

  • The SCT will collect information about your planned survey population(s) and timing of administration to serve the purpose stated above and prevent survey fatigue among the St. Olaf community.
  • You may be asked to adjust your survey population or administration window accordingly, if you are able.
  • We may also provide advice on survey design, cost/benefit consultation, and (if applicable) supplemental survey modules or questions.
  • In most cases, large-scale surveys include a commitment to share results with the St. Olaf community, and often with the general public. The SCT will follow up with you after your survey end date to request information about your survey response rate, a high-level summary of your findings, and how results have been or will be disseminated.  This information will be shared on the survey database webpage, including a link to any results you have posted, if applicable.
    • This is in service of part of the purpose of the large-scale survey coordination process, to ensure results are shared as appropriate with the campus community.
    • In some cases, the subject matter of a large-scale survey may be highly sensitive or confidential in nature and it may not be appropriate to share results with the full community. In those cases, just the general information about the survey will be posted.

Note that the following activities are not considered surveys for this purpose, and you do not need to notify the SCT:

  • Polls for scheduling meetings
  • Elections
  • Registration forms for events or activities
  • “Interest forms” for capturing interest in future opportunities or further information (e.g. “Sign up if you’d like to receive more information”)
  • RSVPs for events
  • Administrative record collection (e.g., requesting phone numbers; personal health waivers)
  • Focus groups (however, these types of projects may require IRB approval)
  • In-depth qualitative interviews (however, these types of projects may require IRB approval)
  • On-site human-subject lab experiments (however, these types of projects may require IRB approval)
  • Submissions of essays, personal reflections, or artistic creations clearly intended for publication or public presentation in their original form (e.g. submissions to student publications)

Submitting a Survey Proposal

Before you notify the Survey Coordinating Team of your planned survey, review the survey schedule to determine if the information you’d like to collect is already covered by one or more planned or recent surveys. You may be able to partner with the individuals or offices administering these surveys to collect the data you need (recent results from surveys administered through IE&A can be found on their home page). You may also use the annual survey list to determine an appropriate timeline for your survey administration. For timing purposes, you may also wish to consult the current academic calendar for potential dates to avoid such as finals week, academic breaks, Quiet Week, etc.

If there is not an existing survey that meets your needs:

  • The SCT normally requests that you submit a completed Survey Planning Form at least two weeks prior to your planned survey launch date, so that the Team has adequate time to read through your materials.
    • To preview the questions on the Survey Planning Form prior to submission, click here. Please use the Survey Planning Form (Google form) to submit, rather than the pdf version.
  • We understand that some surveys may be in response to more urgent needs and require a tighter submission timeline.
  • If you have submitted a Survey Planning Form in the past and are conducting the same or a very similar survey again, you may complete the Expedited Survey Planning Form instead.

Do I need IRB approval?

Most survey projects will require at least a Type I IRB review. If the people being studied include individuals who are not current St. Olaf students or employees OR findings may be shared outside St. Olaf (including with a third-party organization administering the survey, if applicable), you will need to undergo at least a Type II IRB review. Visit the Institutional Review Board (IRB) website to learn more. Your Survey Planning Form and accompanying materials may be submitted at the same time as your IRB materials and reviews of each will occur simultaneously.

2022-23 Survey Coordinating Team Members