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Survey Policy

Ref. No. Executive sponsor Policy steward Approval authority First approved Last reviewed Effective date Next review
66.01 Vice President, College Services and CFO Director, Policy, Planning & Research Executive Council Feb. 23, 2021 May. 3, 2022 May. 3, 2022 May 2027
  1. Purpose
    1. Nova Scotia Community College administers and participates in a wide variety of internal and
      external surveys to collect data from its students, employees, alumni, and industry partners
      to understand their experiences and inform institutional planning and decision-making. The
      purpose of this policy is to coordinate the administration of surveys to maximize their benefits
      by:
      1. Avoiding or minimizing the collection of duplicate information.
      2. Ensuring good, consistent survey methodology and design.
      3. Preventing or minimizing survey fatigue.
      4. Maximizing response rates.
      5. Protecting the privacy of survey participants.
      6. Promoting the sharing of survey results.
    2. This policy aligns with the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research
      Involving Humans.
  1. Scope
    1. This policy applies to all surveys that involve a broad sampling or census of a population of current and prospective students, alumni, employees, industry partners, or other stakeholders of Nova Scotia Community College. This includes surveys conducted by external organizations or researchers that require review by the College’s Research Ethics Board (REB).
    2. This policy does not apply to:
      1. administrative forms
      2. polls
      3. focus groups
      4. classroom teaching and learning
    3. In cases where a survey is not covered by this policy it may still be beneficial to contact Institutional Research to discuss the proposed survey.
  1. Definitions
Term Definition
Administrative form Gathering demographic data such as address, phone number, etc.
Anonymous Individual survey responses cannot be linked to a person’s identity.
Business owner Individual or department who requests a survey, approves the final draft, and is the recipient of the results.
Classroom teaching and learning Gathering in-the-moment or other informal feedback on classroom activities and student projects.
Confidential Individual survey responses are linked to a person’s identity for the
purpose of sending the survey to the appropriate audience with pre-loaded biographical/demographical information; however, access to individual
responses is restricted.
Poll Usually a single question that requires no analysis.
Survey An instrument composed of a structured series of questions to a specific
population in order to collect, analyze, and report the data for administrative and planning purposes.
Survey fatigue The decline in response rates due to repeated requests for survey
participation by the same population.
  1. Policy
    1. Administering a Survey
      1. Internal Survey Requests
        Anyone administering a survey must contact Institutional Research at  to discuss the survey questions, population to be surveyed, and timing of administration for quality assurance purposes so that:
        1. The timing, target population, and content of the survey do not overlap with previously approved surveys.
        2. Opportunities for efficiently consolidating surveys are considered.
        3. The information is being collected on a “need to know” versus “nice to know” basis and cannot be obtained through any other methods or sources.
        4. There will be measures in place for the protection, use, retention, and disposal of survey data in accordance with College policy.
      2. External Survey Requests
        1. The first point of contact for external survey requests is the Research Ethics Board (REB).
        2. The REB will send surveys to Institutional Research for review.
        3. If supported by IR, the survey is sent to the responsible Vice President or designate for approval.
    2. Data Confidentiality
      1. All surveys will advise respondents in the emailed invitation or survey introduction that responses will be kept confidential and whether they will be anonymous.
      2. Reports created using survey data will be presented in summary format only; no personal identifying information will be included.
      3. Raw survey data with identifying information will only be shared in rare circumstances and respondents will be informed of such at the beginning of said survey.
      4. Survey data collected by Institutional Research is kept on a secure drive only accessible by members of the Institutional Research team. For surveys that require raw data to be given to another department, the data file will be password protected and the data will be expunged from both the IR drive and the survey software tool three weeks following the close of the survey.
      5. Prior to sharing survey questions or reports with others, the business owner of the survey will be consulted.
    3. Roles and Responsibilities
      1. Institutional Research within the Department of Policy, Planning and Research
        1. Acts as the first point of contact for survey requests.
        2. Makes recommendations on question creation and timing of surveys.
        3. Convenes a working group as needed to consider requests to survey large populations of the College (e.g. campus, school, student body, all staff).
        4. Reviews external survey requests prior to REB approval.
    4. Survey Software Usage
      The use of standard survey software will help participants recognize the authenticity and legitimacy of survey invitations and maintain consistent and professional survey administration.
      1. All surveys must be administered through College approved software as identified by Institutional Research.
      2. All software must have servers housed in Canada to ensure data security and
        confidentiality.
  1. Policy Supports
12.11 Research Ethics Board Policy
12.21 Research Integrity Policy
75.11 Confidentiality of Student Information
64.01 Information Security Policy
64.02 Information Security Classification Procedure
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