Powerful Partner Questions
Survey Design Strategies from the Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey
When responding to a survey, do you ever have a sense of déjà vu, as though you already answered a very similar question a minute before?
There might be a very good reason for the repetition. Across seven cycles of the US Faculty Survey and in our implementation of this instrument with more than 100 institutions across the globe, we have often found great value in approaching the same topic in multiple ways with slightly different lenses to provide actionable intelligence on the supports faculty need for their teaching, research, and scholarly communications. In many cases, asking one question provides some useful data for planning, but the combination of two or more “partner questions” can begin to tell a much clearer story about user needs and motivations. Below, I highlight some of the partner questions we have used.
Service + Provider
Illuminates current supply of a service and demand from a specific provider
Signals areas where a potential provider may need to invest additional marketing efforts
Attitude + Behavior
Highlights alignment or lack thereof between current state and desired state
Permits deeper understanding of motivating factors driving current behavior
Local + Global
Provides insight on the importance of local versus collective service provision
May indicate feelings of trust for or need for immediacy of service provision from local or collective action
Personal + Collective
Identifies gap between an ideal state of behavior for others and self-reported behavior on an individual level
I thank Isaiah Krugman, a rising senior at Williams College and intern with the Ithaka S+R surveys team over the past few months, for his contributions in developing this typology.