Frequently Asked Questions


What is a climate study?

A climate study is a research project conducted at a university seeking to find out people's perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors affecting the institutional, learning, and surrounding environments. Missouri State University will seek information about the following:

  • History
  • Difference in the perceptions about the University and it communities
  • Legacy of how well people are inlcuded or excluded from major activities
  • The percentage of people present from different backgrounds, faiths and abilities
  • How people are affected by the way they are treated
  • What behaviors are permitted that help or hurt people as they attempt to get an education, do their jobs, or provide instructional or administrative services
  • The extent to which people believe university leadership shows that diversity is a priority

Who is conducting the campus and community climate studies?

Organization: DiversityWorks, Inc.

Primary Staff:

  • Pauline Kayes, President
  • Yvonne Singley, Vice President
  • Roger Worthington, Consulting Psychologist and Data Analogist

Read staff bios here.

Why do we need a climate study?

To position ourselves for improvement in services, teaching, administration, and community relationships which give us the competitive edge for recruiting and retaining the best students, faculty and staff from around the country.

Who is on the steering committee?

Click here to view a member listing

What is the role of the steering committee?

CSSC's general role is to:

  1. Implement clear pathways to hear campus and community constituent concerns, voices and proposed solutions to relative matters,
  2. Serve as a resource group for survey development and testing, campus and community navigation, and culturally significant information and approaches,
  3. Revise and make more inclusive climate study methodologies as needed, and
  4. Obtain the most accurate and reflective climate study data while improving campus and community trust and provoking comfort in providing authentic opinions and thoughts when asked.

Specific roles of the CSSC:

  1. Connect DiversityWorks, Inc. to the university and the university to DiversityWorks, Inc. (i.e., be a PR, resource, and connection group).
  2. Review the surveys for students and employees and assist in testing them to ensure they work properly.
  3. Review proposed variables for measurement for the climate surveys.
  4. Advise on groups, individuals, etc. for focus groups and informational interviews.
  5. Review reports and findings from focus groups and climate surveys and make additional recommendations.
  6. Scan the environment for how the study is being perceived among various affinity and cultural identity groups; make adjustments in strategies for presentation, etc.
  7. Assist in planning strategic and action retreats following reports from focus groups and climate surveys.
  8. Ensure deliverables are achieved and provide satisfaction of goals and objectives of the project.
  9. Strategize to include voices, perspectives, stories, etc. that might be overlooked (maximum inclusion=more comprehensive results).
  10. Meet regularly to review and discuss progress and development of deliverables.
  11. Remain confidential about sensitive discoveries until appropriate time for disclosure, if any, arrives.
  12. Agree to disagree while respecting perspectives of various affinity groups throughout the survey process.

How long will this take?

The studies run for 18 months and are scheduled to be completed in December, 2014.

Is this study only about race issues?

No. See "What is a climate study?" above.

How can I learn more about climate studies?

Click here to view components of climate study research.

What are the reliability and validity measures on the surveys you are using?

A number of different instruments to measure various dimensions of campus climate for diversity may be used. As one example among many, a measure called "General Campus Climate" (GCC) assesses the degree to which participants in the study perceive the general climate of the institution as welcoming, inclusive, supportive, fair, open, and respectful, as opposed to hostile, indifferent, intimidating, oppressive, cold or threatening. This type of measure has performed well in multiple surveys correlating with a number of important variables theoretically associated with overall climate (e.g., satisfaction with racial critical mass, perceptions regarding administrative leadership on diversity, and institutional loyalty among others). The scale has demonstrated excellent internal consistency in all of the samples for which it has been used (Cronbach's alpha estimates ranging from .80 to .95).

Please note that it is impossible to provide you with a single overarching response or complete and detailed response because they survey instrument to be used at MSU has not yet been constructed (see response to item #11 below). Thus, it is our hope that you feel assured that staff completing the MSU study includes a measurement specialist (i.e., someone who has multiple scholarly publications on scale development, and has produced several published instruments that are widely used for scholarly research both nationally and internationally). Our expertise in this area will allow us to utilize existing instruments that have demonstrated good reliability and validity in past studies, as well as develop new items and scales specific to the MSU context that can be examined for reliability and validity within the survey sample at MSU.

What type of demographic information will you request on the climate survey?

It is standard to request information related to age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability status, citizenship status (for international students and employees), veteran status, religious affiliation/identification, political ideology/affiliation, student/employee statuses, social class, among others. These are only examples as there are variations from one survey to the next. Our approach would be to work closely with the leadership at MSU to determine which demographic items should be used for the MSU survey. In addition, there are variations in how different scholars assess each of these demographic characteristics, which will also be addressed during the survey construction process as a collaborative effort.

What is the process you will use to develop a survey for Missouri State University?

The process will be collaborative, that is, the initial stages will include a general discussion of the needs related to climate research that are based in the context of MSU. Key members of the MSU administrative leadership will meet with the DiversityWorks Inc. researchers to help frame the context at MSU within which the climate research will take place. In addition, the researchers will conduct focus groups with students, faculty and staff at MSU to help identify important themes related to climate that could be assessed with the survey. A steering committee will be formed to work collaboratively with our researchers on making key decisions (based on stakeholder meetings and focus group data) about (1) what research questions will be addressed by the survey and (2) how the items and scales of the survey will be developed to address the research questions. A survey template will be developed and provided to the steering committee for review and feedback. The final survey instrument will be constructed based on the feedback received from the steering committee. The steering committee will review the final survey instrument and have an opportunity to make a small number of minor modifications, if necessary.

Will your survey be a climate survey and a diversity survey?

This question is difficult to answer because we are not certain how each of these terms is being defined here. Our definition of a diversity survey would be an instrument designed to assess the diversity within an institution or other diversity characteristics of the institution. Our definition of a climate survey is related to the dimensions such as the degree to which participants in the study perceive the general climate of the institution as welcoming, inclusive, supportive, fair, open, and respectful, as opposed to hostile, indifferent, intimidating, oppressive, cold or threatening along with other dimensions of climate more commonly associated with diversity (e.g., the climate for diversity). Thus, we would tend to view our work as assessing the general campus climate for all members of the MSU community as well as the diversity climate as perceived by all members of the MSU community.

What benchmark data will you use for Missouri State University comparisons to other institutions?

Most commonly, climate research is an intra-institutional process rather than an inter-institutional process of discovery. This is true for a variety of reasons. In part, because the survey instrument will be developed through an iterative process that involves efforts to identify the unique contexts and needs of MSU as an institution, the instrument will be relatively unique to MSU and generally cannot me used as an assessment against benchmarks for other institutions that have their own unique contexts. In addition, the sampling design for most campus climate research does not allow generalizations that go beyond the sample, even if a random sample approach is used (which is not recommended for this type of research). Ultimately, participants in the survey will be voluntary, making it unlikely that complete participation will occur from among a random sample or the population of possible respondents. Thus, attempts to benchmark the findings against other institutions are not recommended. Nevertheless, as with all aspects of this process, our intent is to collaborate with MSU stakeholders regarding decisions about efforts to engage in benchmarking.

How do I participate in the climate study?

Watch for and respond to:

  • Announcements and advertising of the forthcoming survey
  • E-mail solicitation
  • Diversity Perspectives (the DDI online newsletter) notices
  • Invitations to call DDI at 417-836-3736 for details
  • Invitations to visit survey booths after the announcement date
  • Invitations to visit the DDI and pick up a survey
  • Opportunities to make anonymous suggestions on the DDI website
  • Invitations to join us on Facebook and Twitter
  • Invitations to join focus groups
  • Invitations to participate in a one-on-one interview

How will you draw a sample to survey?

Decisions about the sampling design will be made collaboratively with MSU stakeholders. However, our general approach to surveys has been to sample from the total population of students, faculty, staff and administrators via an online survey (possibly supplemented with paper and pencil surveys). Announcements and "advertising" of the forthcoming survey will occur during the weeks leading to the opening of the survey to increase participation rates. E-mail solicitation will be sent to every student, faculty, staff and administrator (with some exceptions based on FERPA and other institutional policies related to mass e-mails). E-mail reminders will be sent at 5-7 day intervals during the survey administration period. The survey will be closed on a predetermined date within 48 hours after the final reminder notice. There are a number of variations on these procedures that have been successfully used. Ultimately, there will need to be a collaborative process to make final decisions about sampling design.

How would you describe the difference between leveraging and managing people's work?

While managing people's work is more of a "top-down" approach in which an employee is given goals, objectives, tasks, and specific work that is supervised according to certain expectations, rules, and regulations, leveraging people's work emphasizes building on and enhancing individual strengths and capacities so an employee can actualize talents and creative, inventive energy in order to fulfill her/her potential and to "shine" in the organization. Although leveraging requires more involvement, knowledge, and investment with employees, organizations can benefit greatly from recognizing, affirming, supporting, and harnessing their employees' talents and skills in order to fulfill the promise of their human resources. While both approaches are necessary in an organization or an institution, leveraging is more associated with inclusion of cultural differences and respect for the whole person.

You stated that you would take an inclusive approach. Does this mean you will not address compliance as well? If so, why? If not, why not?

A direct assessment of compliance is generally not the central focus of climate research. A direct assessment of compliance is generally conducted using existing records over a specified period of time with accountability to a particular regulatory agency (federal, state, accrediting) in mind. This is not the type of research being requested by MSU, and thus it is not the type of research we proposed. However, some aspects of compliance are reflected in the campus climate for diversity, and although we will not directly assess compliance as described above, it is possible for us to include items about perceptions of compliance in the survey. For example, in work completed at Western Michigan University, there were items about perceived equity, which is a compliance issue, that hung together (using factor analysis) as a variable called Equity Climate. Thus, as with our reponses to other questions, we view this as a collaborative process of decision making about the final content of the survey instrument to address the specific needs and interests of MSU.