Table of Contents

General Climate Assessment Questions

Why is Bates College conducting a Climate Assessment? 
  • The campus climate at Bates College shapes the lives of all of us – students, staff, and faculty. Understanding deeply the varied experiences of our community is a critical part of continuing to improve how we work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable campus environment. That is the goal of the Bates College Climate Assessment. 
  • The idea to conduct a staff engagement & well-being survey originated from interested staff who believed data from such a survey might be useful in planning for the future and improving the environment for staff at Bates College.
  • This qualitative and quantitative research effort will allow us to better understand the experiences of our community. We know from the research that thriving campus climates contribute directly to overall success for students, staff and faculty. This information will help us better understand how members of the staff community experience their environment. This is an opportunity for you to ensure your voice is part of this effort. 
  • We seek a campus climate grounded in mutual respect, nurtured by dialogue, and evidenced by a pattern of civil interaction. We actively foster an environment characterized by openness, fairness, and equal access for all students, staff, and faculty. 
  • Therefore, the question we are asking ourselves is: How can Bates College collect actionable data to ensure we are a community environment that respects staff individual needs, abilities, and potential? 
  • Ensuring inclusive and equitable campus experiences for all members of the staff community at Bates College requires us to deeply listen and understand these often disparate experiences.
  • A transparent, holistic and confidential assessment is an important opportunity to engage, learn and act to further enhance the Bates staff community experience.
What is “Engagement” and why is it important? 
  • Engagement is defined as experiences that are demonstrated by how staff think, feel, and act, as well as how they feel about Bates’ environment and policies, which influence how they feel towards the organization, their work, and their team. 
  • It is well researched that staff engagement influences the levels to which faculty and staff members thrive. For example, when staff feel they have a “sense of engagement”, they report higher levels of perceived sense of purpose, motivation, and enthusiasm. They have a positive mental and emotional state, leading to higher job satisfaction, reduced stress levels, and improved overall health.
  • In this folder, you will find robust research that explains why climate assessments are an important opportunity to engage, learn and act to further enhance the Bates staff community experience.

Assessment Process Questions

What happens as a part of the Assessment? 
  • This January – February, we will be developing the survey and submitting our IRB proposal. 
  • In February- March, we will administer the campus-wide survey. 
  • Behind the scenes, our consultant, Rankin Climate, will also be analyzing our institutional policies and procedures. 
  • In April 2024, we will conduct data analysis and begin to develop the report.
  • Results will be presented in May 2024 and that will be the start of our Action Planning so that the lessons we learn throughout the process can be acted upon.
How are the questions developed?
  • Rankin Climate, our consultant, developed a repository of tested questions from administering climate assessments at more than 250 institutions across the nation. To assist in contextualizing the survey for Bates College, and to capitalize on the many assessment efforts already undertaken, the CSWG was formed. The committee is responsible for developing the survey questions. The team will review selected survey questions from the consultant’s tested collection and will also include Bates College -specific questions which will be informed by the focus group results.
Why do some demographic questions contain a very large number of response options?
  • It is important in staff engagement and well-being research for survey participants to “see” themselves in response choices to prevent “othering” an individual or an individual’s characteristics. Some researchers maintain that assigning someone to the status of “other” is a form of marginalization and should be minimized, particularly in campus climate research which has an intended purpose of inclusiveness. Along these lines, survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. However, it is reasonably impossible to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”
Why is this a population survey and not a sample survey?
  • The survey will be administered to all staff at Bates College. Climate exists in micro-climates, so creating opportunities to maximize participation is important as well as maximizing opportunities to reach minority populations. Along these lines, the consultant has recommended not using random sampling as we may “miss” particular populations where numbers are very small (e.g., Native American staff). Since one goal of the project is inclusiveness and allowing invisible “voices” to be heard, this sampling technique is not used. In addition, randomized stratified sampling is not used because we do not have population data on most identities. For example, Bates College collects population data on gender identity and racial identity, but not on disability status or sexual identity. A sample approach could miss many groups.
What is the response rate goal?
  • The target participation in the survey is all staff at Bates College. Every response matters and is valuable in providing the most beneficial feedback and results.
What will be included in the final summary reports?
  • The consultant, Rankin Climate, will provide a final report that will include: an executive summary; a report narrative of the findings based on cross tabulations selected by the consultant; frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations of quantitative data; and content analysis of the textual data. The reports provide high-level summaries of the findings and will identify themes found in the data. Generalizations for populations are limited to those groups or subgroups with response rates of at least 30%. The committee will review draft reports and provide feedback to the consultant prior to public release.
What will be done with data from the results?
  • The purpose of conducting the survey is to assess staff engagement and well-being at Bates College and to identify successes and opportunities for improvement. 
  • The findings will serve as a guide when creating the action plan that accounts for the identified opportunities for improvement. 
  • Although the committee believes the survey process itself is informative, we have sought and received commitment from the senior leaders that data will be used to plan for an improved staff environment at Bates College. 

Rankin Climate will create a Key Findings Report that summarizes salient quantitative findings from the Engagement & Well-Being survey based on the most relevant metrics and demographic variables. Both general descriptions and statistically significant differences are summarized. Themes developed from the qualitative analyses are also included in this report. The findings will be shared in late spring with the Bates staff community through on-campus presentations. The report and the presentation slide deck will be available to the Bates staff Community via the Engagement & Well-Being project website.

Following the presentation of the results and time for reflection, there are important strategic actions that Bates will develop. Rankin Climate will provide counsel and data to support the development of practices, programs or policies that help Bates College use the survey results to develop meaningful change. These actions will also be communicated via the Engagement & Well-Being project website.

As part of Rankin Climate’s consulting support, we will engage in bi-weekly status and strategy calls. These calls will focus on helping support and identify action steps, communicate authentically with key stakeholders and develop measurement tools to highlight progress. Our focus through this strategic consulting is to ensure that the survey is a foundational tool that is being used to make a meaningful impact on the well-being of staff.

What is the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process for this study?
  • Submitting the survey to the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an important step of the campus climate study project. There are several benefits to going through this process, even if the survey is considered to be “exempt” or “not human subjects research.” Firstly, it provides some assurance to potential participants that their responses to the survey will remain confidential. People who have participated in social science research may recognize and expect that the process has been reviewed by IRB. They may feel more comfortable sharing their confidential information and personal stories. Secondly, going through an IRB review provides some protections to the Principal Investigators (PIs) who will be entrusted with analyzing and managing the data, including both Rankin Climate and the institutional PIs. The expectation is that the data will not be shared with others, as designated in the data security plan. Lastly, an IRB review provides some cache to the study in the eyes of those who conduct research professionally, such as faculty members and scientists. These individuals understand what an IRB review requires and the protections for the data to which research professionals commit. 
  • The primary investigator from Bates College for the IRB process is Dre Gager, Associate Director of Institutional Research, Analysis, and Planning at Bates College. An IRB application will be submitted for the project. Once the project is approved, the survey will be administered.


Do I have to take the survey? 
  • Participation in the survey is completely voluntary. Additionally, participants do not have to answer every question and can skip any questions they consider to be uncomfortable.
How is a respondent’s confidentiality protected?
  • Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research; particularly as sensitive and personal topics are discussed. While the survey cannot guarantee complete confidentiality because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the consultant will take multiple precautionary measures to enhance individual confidentiality and the de-identification of data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., Social Security number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey. In the event of any publication or presentation resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared.
  • Confidentiality in participating will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used (e.g., IP addresses will be stripped when the survey is submitted). The survey is run by RC via Qualtrics, whose servers are protected by high-end firewall systems and scans are performed regularly to ensure that any vulnerabilities are quickly found and patched. Qualtrics uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption (also known as HTTPS) to protect transmitted data. Access to RC surveys is restricted and audited for compliance. In addition, the external consultant (RC) will not report any group data for groups of fewer than five individuals, which may be small enough to compromise confidentiality. Instead, RC will combine the groups to eliminate any potential identifiable demographic information. Additionally, any comments submitted in response to the survey will be separated at the time of submission to the consultant so they are not attributed to any individual demographic characteristics. Identifiable information submitted in qualitative comments will be redacted and the college will only receive these redacted comments.
  • Participation in the survey is completely voluntary, and participants do not have to answer any question and can skip any other questions they consider to be uncomfortable. Paper and pencil surveys are also available and will be sent directly to the consultant.
  • Information in the introductory section of the survey will describe the manner in which confidentiality will be guaranteed, and additional communication to participants will provide expanded information on the nature of confidentiality, possible threats to confidentiality and procedures developed to ensure de-identification of data.
What protections are in place for storage of sensitive data, including for future secondary use?
  • Rankin Climate uses a research data security description and protocol, which includes specific information on data encryption, the handling of personally identifiable information, physical security and a protocol for handling unlikely breaches of data security. The data from online participants will be submitted to a secure server hosted by the consultant. All Rankin Climate analysts have CITI (Human Subjects) training and approval and have worked on similar projects for other institutions. 
  • The consultant has conducted more than 250 institutional surveys and maintains an aggregate merged database. The data from the Bates College project will be merged with all other existing campus data stored indefinitely on the consultant’s secure server. No institutional identifiers are included in the full merged data set held by the consultant. The raw unit-level data with institutional identifiers is kept on the server for six months and then destroyed. The paper and pencil surveys are returned to the consultant directly and kept in a locked file drawer in a locked office. The consultant destroys the paper and pencil responses after they are merged with the online data. The consultant will notify the committee chairs of any breach or suspected breach of data security of the consultant’s server.
  • The consultant will provide the primary investigator with a data file at the completion of the project.

Bates-Specific Questions

How can I get involved? 
  • When we launch the survey in February, please fill out the survey and encourage your community to do the same! 
  • Spread the word and help us ensure that our community is involved in this entire process. 
  • Ensuring inclusive and equitable campus experiences for all staff members of the Bates College community requires us to deeply listen and understand these often disparate experiences. You can help us gather voices! 

Who’s on the committee?

A complete list of committee members is available on this website.

Why was an outside consultant used for this project?
  • In reviewing efforts by other universities to conduct comprehensive culture climate studies, several best practices were identified. One was the need for external expertise in survey administration. The administration of a survey relating to a very sensitive subject like culture climate is likely to yield higher response rates and provide more credible findings if led by an independent, outside agency. Members of a college community may feel particularly inhibited to respond honestly to a survey administered by their own institution for fear of retaliation.
Why did the committee select Rankin Climate as their outside consultant? 
  • After a review of potential vendors, the Climate Survey Working Group selected Rankin Climate, LLC. 
  • Rankin Climate, LLC has been working with college campuses for over 20 years and has conducted similar assessments on more than 250 college campuses nationwide. 
  • Rankin Climate developed and utilizes the Transformational Tapestry model as a research design for campus climate studies. The model is a “comprehensive, five-phase strategic model of assessment, planning and intervention. The model is designed to assist campus communities in conducting inclusive assessments of their institutional climate to better understand the challenges facing their respective communities” (Rankin & Reason, 2008).
  • Their process is highly confidential and transparent. No protected data is used in the project. 
Where can I learn more? 
  • The website is the best place to learn more. You can find peer-reviewed research on campus climate, ways to get involved and more at bates.edu/survey
  • We will also be sending updates and invitations to get involved via email.