Survey Research

Surveys can be powerful tools for collecting information related to students, faculty, and staff. The College has a Survey Policy (#316) whose purpose is to:

  • Ensure integrity of survey design, administration, analysis, and communication
  • Ensure best practices in survey use to benefit the College, survey users and respondents
  • Minimize duplication of effort
  • Decrease competition for respondents
  • Minimize survey fatigue of respondents
  • Improve survey results
  • Ensure quality of data collected
Do I need to submit my survey to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) for review?

Your survey must be reviewed if you answer “YES” to any of the following questions:

  • Will the survey be sent to employees in more than one department or division?
  • Will the surveys be sent college-wide to students, faculty, or staff?
  • Is the survey being requested by an external (non-CCP) entity?
  • Was the survey referred to Institutional Research for review by IRB (Institutional Review Board)?
  • Will you require contact information from a college office such as IR (Institutional Research), HR (Human Resources), or ITS (Information Technology Services)?
  • Will the survey request personal identifiable information from the participants?

The following items do not need to be reviewed by OIE: 

  • Student evaluation of teaching surveys conducted by the College
  • Employee evaluations conducted by the College
  • Surveys by faculty as part of their instruction of students currently enrolled in their class(es)
  • Feedback forms used for registration or to assess workshops or events
  • Surveys focused on a small, defined population with whom the survey sponsor has an academic relationship
  • Surveys that are part of the Institutional Assessment process such as CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement), Noel-Levitz, and General Education
  • Surveys that have been approved by a Community College of Philadelphia Institutional Review Board (IRB)
I need data but I’m not sure how to get started. Can you help?
  • Your very first step should be to explore whether the data you need is already available at the College. If you can’t find it in your department, contact us at   for assistance.
  • Once you have determined that a survey is required to collect your data, the next step is to plan your project. 
How should I plan my survey research project?

The following survey design best practices are from the Statistics Learning Centre (Designing a Questionnaire, Writing Good Survey Questions):

1. Define the problem:
  • What is the purpose of the survey?
  • Who is the target population?
  • How will the information be used?
  • What, exactly, do you want to learn? (What is your research question?)
2. Decide on the administration platform. OIE can support your project with Qualtrics, a robust survey and data analysis platform.

3. Write the questionnaire:
  • Select an informative title
  • Write an introduction that explains why the data is being collected, and for whom, and explains anonymity or confidentiality
  • Characteristics of good survey questions:
    • Easy to answer
    • Short
    • Grammatically correct
    • Appropriate language
    • Specific. It is better to ask what a respondent did in a specific instance or over a specific period of time vs. general recollections
    • Realistic: What can respondents be expected to remember
    • Terms are defined
    • One idea per question
    • Ask questions in positive terms, if possible
    • Avoid double-negatives
    • Alternatives: Be clear whether one or multiple responses can be selected
    • Avoid overlap in choices
    • Provide all alternatives
    • Avoid bias
    • Ask neutral questions: Take special care around questions that may be personal or upsetting
  • Screening question(s) should be at the very beginning of the survey
  • The survey should start with interesting questions, grouped in logical order, and finish with demographic questions, if any.
  • The survey should not include any questions that are not relevant for your study.
  • Close the survey with a custom “thank you” message or follow-up email.
4. Review your questionnaire:
  • Are the instructions clear?
  • Could any of the questions be confusing?
  • Compare your research goals to the survey questionsare all of the questions relevant?
  • Is the questionnaire easy to code or interpret?
5. Test your survey:
  • Is it confusing?
  • Is it boring?
  • Is it annoying?
  • Are there too many choices? Not enough?
  • Make any necessary changes

OIR staff are available to consult on survey design and distribution, as time permits. If you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your survey project, please email us at .

How do I submit my survey to OIE for review?
  1. First, please review survey resources available on the OIE website.
  2. Complete the survey request form
  3. When you submit the survey request, submit any supporting documents to OIE: (Email: , Subject Line: <<Project Title>>)
  • Copies of all materials related to the survey: 
    • The survey instrument (questions / responses)  
    • The cover letter (introduction) and invitation language
    • The target timeline – you must submit your request at least 30 days prior to the target administration date
    • A detailed description of your target population (e.g. “Currently enrolled students majoring in Liberal Studies who have completed at least 30 credits”)
  • Documentation of approval by the relevant party(ies):
I submitted my survey for reviewwhat’s next?

Before your survey is administered:

  • OIE will contact you to schedule a time to review your survey, and to confirm the administration details
  • You are responsible to maintain documentation of the approval of your survey by OIE.

After the survey is closed:

  • If your survey is administered by OIE using the College’s survey platform, OIE will provide you with either raw survey data or aggregate data, as agreed.
  • You are responsible to maintain survey data for a period consistent with College Policy #313, Records Management and Retention Policy. 
  • You are responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of respondent information and survey results.