Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is "campus climate"?

Dr. Sue Rankin of Rankin & Associates Consulting, the outside consultant for Northwestern Pritzker Law's climate survey, defines campus climate as "the current attitudes, behaviors, standards, and practices of employees and students of an institution." Campus climate is often shaped through personal experiences, perceptions, and institutional efforts.

2. Why is a positive climate important?

Positive personal experiences with campus climate and positive perceptions of campus climate generally correlate to successful outcomes, including successful educational experiences and healthy identity development for students, productivity and sense of value for faculty and staff, and overall wellbeing for all.

3. Why is Northwestern Pritzker Law conducting a climate survey?

Northwestern Pritzker Law remains committed to fostering an inclusive community. An inclusive community is characterized by openness and fairness, and provides equal access for all students, staff, and faculty. Achieving an inclusive community requires self-assessment and dialogue, a receptiveness to feedback, and a willingness to change. A climate assessment survey is an important step in helping us better understand the ways in which students, staff, and faculty experience and perceive our community.

4. Who will be conducting the survey?

Northwestern Pritzker Law engaged Rankin & Associates Consulting (R&A) to assist with this critical project. R&A has extensive experience in institutional climate assessment and transformation based on data-driven action and strategic planning. Dr. Rankin, Dr. Stefani Bjorklund, and Dr. Stephanie Danette Preston are the members of the R&A team working directly with the Law School on this project.

A Climate Survey Working Group (CSWG) comprised of Northwestern Pritzker Law students, faculty, staff, and alumni has worked closely with R&A to tailor the survey to the needs of our community.

5. Why was a non-Northwestern Pritzker Law researcher selected for the project?

Engaging external expertise is a best practice in conducting climate studies, as community members may be reluctant to respond candidly to a survey administered by their own institution.

6. How were the questions developed?

R&A has administered climate assessments to more than 200 institutions across the nation, including law schools. Through that process, R&A has developed a repository of tested questions covering a myriad of topics. The Climate Survey Working Group (CSWG) helped to contextualize the survey for Northwestern Pritzker Law and to incorporate learnings from previous internal assessment efforts. Together, R&A and the CSWG finalized the survey questions.

7. Why do some demographic questions contain a very large number of response options?

Effective campus climate research ensures that survey participants “see” themselves in response choices. As a result, survey respondents may see a long list of possible choices for some demographic questions. That said, it is impossible to include every possible choice to every question; R&A and the CSWG worked toward the goal of reducing the number of respondents who must choose “other” or who otherwise did not see themselves reflected in answer choices.

8. What is the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process for this study?

The primary investigator from Northwestern Pritzker Law for the IRB process is Amit Prachand, Assistant Vice President of Information and Analytics. An IRB application will be submitted for the project. Once the project is approved, the survey will be administered.

9. What is the response rate goal?

The climate survey will be made available to all currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff at Northwestern Pritzker Law, as well as 2020 graduates at Northwestern Pritzker Law. Every response provides important feedback and results, although we will have additional incentives once we reach a community-wide response rate over 60%.

10. How is a respondent’s confidentiality protected?

The success of campus climate research stems from ensuring confidentiality of individuals’ responses. R&A takes multiple precautionary measures to enhance individual confidentiality and to de-identify data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., Social Security number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey. In the event of any publication or presentation resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared.

In addition, group data for groups of fewer than five individuals will not be reported to eliminate any potential for demographic information to be identifiable. Additionally, survey comments will be separated from demographic responses to ensure comments will not be attributable to any individual. Northwestern Pritzker Law will only receive qualitative comments after identifiable information has been redacted.

Confidentiality in participating will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used (e.g., IP addresses will be stripped when the survey is submitted). To avoid interception of data, the survey is run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security. However, no guarantees can be made regarding the interception of data sent via the internet by any third parties.

Participation in the survey is completely voluntary, and survey respondents can skip any questions for any reason. Paper-and-pencil surveys are also available and will be mailed directly to the consultant.

11. What will be included in the final summary reports?

R&A will provide Northwestern Pritzker Law a final report, including: an executive summary; a narrative of the findings based on cross tabulations and factor analyses; frequencies, percentages, means, and standard deviations of quantitative data; and content analysis of the textual data. The reports provide high-level summaries of the findings and will identify themes found in the data. Generalizations for populations are limited to those groups or subgroups with response rates of at least 30%.

12. What will be done with data from the results?

The data will be reviewed and studied by members of Northwestern Pritzker Law’s senior administrator leadership team who will use this data to improve the climate and inform priorities and programming going forward, including decisions on curriculum, policies, and community initiatives. In addition, the information from the report and the climate survey will be shared with the wider Northwestern Pritzker Law community.

13. What protections are in place for storage of sensitive data, including for future secondary use?

Northwestern Pritzker Law has worked with R&A to develop a research data security description and protocol, which includes specific information on data encryption, the handling of personally identifiable information, physical security, and a protocol for handling unlikely breaches of data security.

Completed paper-and-pencil surveys are mailed to R&A directly and kept in a locked file drawer in a locked office. R&A destroys the paper-and-pencil responses after they are merged with the online data. R&A will notify the CSWG of any breach or suspected breach of data security of the consultant’s server.

14. Why is this a population survey and not a sample survey?

The survey will be administered to all students, faculty, staff and 2020 graduates of Northwestern Pritzker Law. The primary goal of the climate survey is to understand the perspectives of all members of our community; a sample approach could miss the important perspective of many groups.

15. What is the timeline?

This initiative will include four phases: survey development (fall 2020), survey administration that will seek input from all Northwestern Pritzker Law students, faculty, and staff (winter 2021), results presentations (spring 2021), and follow-up focus groups (fall 2021). View project timeline.

16. Feedback

Your questions and comments are very important as we move through this process. Please submit any questions you have regarding the climate survey to