About Institutional Surveys
The Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research (DAIR) conducts institutional surveys such as the Annual Student Opinion Survey, the International Student Exit Survey, as well as other surveys to assist in achieving the University’s objectives. We also consult and assist AUC departments and units in the design, launch and analysis of their own surveys as they relate to the University’s mission.
DAIR offers an online survey service to AUC faculty and staff members. The DAIR staff will help you create a survey to meet your needs, such as data gathering, program assessment and review, needs assessment, benchmarking and special project development. In order for us to understand your needs and coordinate your survey with other projects, we ask you to review these Survey Guidelines prior to filling out the Survey Request Form. Once your completed form has been received and assigned to a member of the DAIR staff, you will be contacted to discuss your request and clarify the specific information you need.
Due to resource limitations, we are not able to offer this service to student groups, and we cannot provide services for dissertation or other personal publication/grant/research purposes. However, our workload permitting, we are available to provide consultation on creating a valid survey instrument.
After reading these Survey Guidelines, we welcome you to fill out our Survey Request Form, and we will notify you if we can fulfill your request. Additionally, we would like to direct you to additional resources on designing and conducting surveys. See our webpage, Tips on Survey Development.
We also consult and assist AUC departments and units in the design, launch and analysis of their own surveys as they relate to the University’s mission. DAIR offers an online survey service to AUC faculty and staff. The DAIR staff will help you create a survey to meet your needs such as data gathering, program assessment and review, needs assessment, benchmarking and special project development
1. Requesting a survey
Due to resource limitations, we are not able to offer this service to student groups, and we cannot provide services for dissertation or other personal publication/grant/research purposes. However, our workload permitting, we are available to provide consultation on creating a valid survey instrument. Consultation services are free and open to anyone on campus. After reading the survey guidelines on this page, we welcome you to fill out our Survey Request Form, and we will notify you if we can fulfill your request. Additionally, we would like to direct you to additional resources on designing and conducting surveys. See our webpage on Tips on Survey Development.
2. Survey design
You know best what questions you want to ask on a survey. The survey design process must begin with you taking sufficient time to think about the objectives of the survey and the types of information you want to collect. Some simple thoughts to keep in mind when designing your questions are:
- What is the overall purpose of my survey? Is it customer satisfaction, needs assessment, educational outcomes assessment, or something else?
- Will the questions I have in mind provide me information that I can act upon?
- How would I react to the question being asked? Is it offensive or unclear? Can I think of a way somebody could read the question and misinterpret it?
- Do I want to use close-ended or open-ended question? Close-ended questions often precipitate in a higher response rate, as well as data that are more easily quantified and analyzed.
- How will the data be reported and analyzed?
Surveys explicitly or implicitly associated with the Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research (DAIR) by titles, footnotes, or presence on our website, reflect on the reputation of our office. The Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research reserves the right, in consultation with the survey's sponsor(s), to edit the survey for purposes of brevity, clarity and/or appropriateness. Further, our office reserves the right to refuse any survey or survey data that does not meet with University standards.
3. Piloting the survey
Prior to distributing any survey, it is recommended that you test the survey by asking a small group to complete the survey and note any uncertainties they have about the meaning of survey items. They may also find formatting, grammar, or spelling errors. This provides one more opportunity to identify and correct misleading questions or other survey problems before distribution.
4. Survey cover letter and incentives
As the client requesting a survey, you should write the cover letter/email message. The message should explain to prospective respondents why they are being surveyed in a concise and friendly manner, and invite them to complete the survey. We can provide you with samples. Our office will insert a standardized paragraph that guarantees the confidentiality of respondents at the bottom of each email.
Incentives, if any, for completing the survey should be mentioned in the original letter/email, as well as in any follow up or reminder messages – for example, cash prizes, gift certificates, or other desirable items can be offered as incentives that will be awarded to one or a number of randomly selected respondents.
5. Survey timing
The timing of your survey is crucial to the success of the survey. Obviously you would not want to send out a student survey during spring break or finals week. Our office will work with you in selecting the most appropriate time period to administer your survey.
6. Survey approval
All research (including interviews, surveys and questionnaires) involving humans as subjects must be reviewed by the IRB. Provisional approval may be granted by the IRB as needed during the design of a project or preparation of a proposal. Full approval must be sought as soon as feasible, and must be obtained before the involvement of human subjects in the project begins.
Please see AUC's research policies for further information.
If your survey will be conducted outside of the AUC community, further approval needs to be sought from Egyptian authorities. Please see CAPMAS Procedures for Conducting Field Research.
7. Survey distribution and reminders
When surveys are administered from our office, they will be distributed from the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, unless otherwise requested. Web surveys are our preferred method since they are inexpensive; they result in a fast response; they minimize data-entry errors; they facilitate email reminders via an authenticated processes; they result in detailed open-ended (e.g. fill-in-the-blank) responses; and they often achieve higher response rates than paper surveys. Reminders will be sent at about one and two weeks after the original distribution. Surveys can often be completed in approximately four weeks from the initial invitation to participate.
DAIR can provide you with the raw data to complete your own analysis or provide you with an analysis of the data. A brief executive summary along with appropriate tables or charts will be provided if we complete the analysis. Please note that any analysis of the data provided by DAIR will be distributed to you, as well as your supervisor, and other appropriate administrators.
9. Use of results
We believe that surveying is a poor use of University resources if the results are not used effectively. We encourage you to publicly share information about actions taken as a result of survey research, as we believe that individuals are more likely to respond to future surveys if they see the information they provide is being used.
Please do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions you may have.
Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research
The American University in Cairo
Administration Building, Office 1028
P.O. Box 74
New Cairo 11835, Egypt
Before You Conduct a Survey
All research not originating in DAIR (including interviews, surveys, and questionnaires) involving humans as subjects must be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Provisional approval may be granted by the IRB as needed during the design of a project or preparation of a proposal. Full approval must be sought as soon as feasible, and must be obtained before the involvement of human subjects in the project begins.
Please see AUC's research policies for further information.
Additionally, if your survey will be conducted outside of the AUC community, further approval may need to be sought from Egyptian authorities. Please see CAPMAS Procedures for Conducting Field Research.
- Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research Survey Guidelines
- Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research Survey Request Form
- Tips on Survey Development
- Research Policies
- CAPMAS Procedures for Conducting Field Research
Advantages of Web Surveys
- Savings in printing, postage, data entry
- No data entry errors from hand entry
- Shortened timeframe to administer surveys (three weeks with web surveys, vs. six or more weeks with paper surveys)
- Easier to provide skip patterns or survey sections customized to different respondent populations
- Immediate access to data for analysis
- Can easily link to background data (i.e. gender, grades and rank).
Background Questions to Ask Yourself
- What is the purpose of the survey, and how will we use the survey data?
- Who are we surveying?
- Who are the audiences for the survey results?
- What kind of support do we need for the survey effort?
- What survey methodology will we use?
- What is the project budget? Are funds available to pay incentives to potential respondents?
- What is the time frame for this survey project (i.e. administration, time for responses, analysis, etc.)
Tips on Defining Survey Content
- Identify themes that are of importance to the sponsor/department and other internal decision-makers. Obtain early and timely confirmation/approval from the Institutional Review Board.
- Write questions using the assistance of experts (Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research) to be sure that questions will yield meaningful results that will inform policy setting, changes to programs, etc. Avoid using jargon, shorthand, and technical terms unless you are certain this language will make sense to all survey participants.
- Have other individuals review survey questions to ensure they represent the target audience, and to make certain the survey questions are appropriate for the times and the culture.
- Revise questions as needed. Eliminate redundant or unnecessary words/questions to meet goals for survey length. Surveys with 30 or fewer questions (about 25 to 30 minutes) are most likely to receive a larger response rate.
Writing the Questions
The goal of writing a question is to develop a query that every potential respondent will interpret the same way, be able to respond accurately, and be willing to answer.
Types of Questions:
• Do not be vague – be very specific.
• Use vocabulary appropriate to audience.
• Avoid objectionable questions/language.
• Avoid hypothetical questions.
• Avoid leading questions.
• Ask only what you need.
• Equal number of positive/negative answer choices (in appropriate order).
• Range within answer choices should be concise/tight.
• Primary answer vs. all that apply.
• Limit open-ended questions.
• Don’t over-survey.
• Keep it short, 30 questions is best
• Instructions should be clear, to the point, and where they need to be
• Use headings/division titles where appropriate
• Number questions consecutively and keep answers responses structured similarly
• Demographics – where to place?
• Take question order very seriously: general to specific
• Avoid lots of skipping or go-to questions
• Open-ended questions should be placed at end
• Include status bars or page numbers
• Print on both sides of paper (you decide, depending on length)
• Never landscape page format, always portrait
• Avoid strange paper folding
• Consider font type and size
• Check spelling and grammar
Source: AIR Professional File, No. 102, Winter 2006.
- Additional Resources for Designing and Conducting Surveys
- Conducting Primary Research: Tips on getting started, creating unbiased questions, and even collecting and analyzing data. (From Purdue University)
- Essential Steps for Web Surveys: A guide to designing, administering and utilizing web surveys for university decision-making from the Association for Institutional Research
- Sample question formats for web-based surveys
- Sample Size calculator by Rasoft, Inc.
- Sample Size calculator by Creative Research Systems
- The Question Bank: Social surveys online
- Survey Monkey: Online survey website that generates and distributes web-based surveys, in addition to providing basic analysis
Below are some of the surveys and evaluations that the Assessment Committee conducts at AUC. Click through the surveys below to learn more about the reports and results.
Ad-Hoc and Department/Unit Surveys
First-Year Experience Program
- Fall 2015 Report
- Fall 2013 Evaluation; Mid-semester Evaluation
- Spring 2013 Evaluation; Mid-semester Evaluation
- Fall 2012 Evaluation; Mid-semester Evaluation
- Spring 2012 Evaluation; Mid-semester Evaluation
- Fall 2011 Evaluation; Mid-semester Evaluation
- Spring 2011 Evaluation; Mid-semester Evaluation
- First Year Experience Program Satisfaction Survey Spring 2008
- MEPI Students Feedback Survey Report - Fall 2013
- LEAD and Empower Students Feedback Survey Report - Fall 2013
- MEPI Students Feedback Survey Report - Spring 2013
- LEAD Students Feedback Survey Report - Spring 2013
- MEPI Students Feedback Survey Report - Fall 2012
- LEAD Alumni Survey Report - Fall 2012
- LEAD Students Feedback Survey Report - Fall 2012
- LEAD-MEPI Students Feedback Survey Report - Spring 2012
- LEAD Alumni Survey Report - Fall 2011
- LEAD-MEPI Students Feedback Survey Report - Fall 2011
- LEAD Students Feedback Survey Report - Spring 2011
Faculty Housing Survey
Food Services Survey
- Food Services Satisfaction Survey Spring 2016 Report
- Dining Hall Survey 2015 Report
- Dining Hall Spring 2014 Report
- Dining Hall Spring 2013 Report
2 + 2 Survey
Language Exchange Partners Program Survey
IT Help Desk Survey
Faculty and Staff Surveys
Adjunct Faculty Survey
ECAR Study of Faculty and Technology
- Presentation of Faculty Survey Report - Fall 2012
- Faculty Survey Report - Fall 2009; Presentation of Fall 2009 Results
- Summary of Faculty 2012 Comments
Faculty Research Survey
ECAR Study of Students and Technology
First Semester Freshman Survey
Graduate Student Exit Survey
- Spring 2017 Report
- Fall 2015 Report
- Fall 2015 Infographics
- Spring 2015 Report
- Fall 2013 Report
International Student Survey
- Spring 2017 Report
- Fall 2013 Report
- International Students Exit Survey Academic Years 2005-2006 and 2006-2007
- International Student Exit Survey (ISES) Report- Fall 2010
- International Student Exit Survey (ISES) Report - Fall 2011
- International Student Exit Survey (ISES) Appendix C - Fall 2011
- International Student Exit Survey (ISES) Report - Spring 2012
- International Student Exit Survey (ISES) Appendix B - Spring 2012
National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)
- 2012 Results
- 2011 Results
- 2010 Results
New Graduate Student Survey
Your First College Year Survey (YFCY)
Student Opinion Survey
- Advisors Assessment analysis Report-January 2011
- Exchange Program Students Fall 2011 Evaluation Report
- Executive Master's Degree in Business Administration (EMBA) Report - June 2011
- Food Chemistry New Course Report - Fall 2011
- Strategic Priorities Analysis Report - March 2017