AER KC Sponsored Session Preview: Beyond Campus Climate Surveys

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March 1, 2018

“Climate studies are often initiated as reactions to incidents, interfering with thoughtfulness and actionable results.  Even the most deliberate and sincere approaches often root in deficit frameworks and elicit coded dismissive critiques about methods and magnitudes. Mistrust, resentment and fear are often amplified rather than alleviated.” In this KC sponsored session, presenters will share their experience with a robust and hopeful approach to campus climate studies utilizing an Appreciate Inquiry (AI) (Cooperider & Whitney, 2001) methodology. This session conveys why they believe a multicultural approach in combination with AI methods to campus climate studies yields the best results for institutions of higher education.

Learn more at the 2018 NASPA Annual Conference by attending this AER KC Sponsored Session:

Beyond Campus Climate Surveys: Assessing and Improving Campus Climate Using Appreciative Inquiry Methods

Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 9:05am-9:55am

Time: Convention Center 120 C


  • Jason Laker, San Jose State University
  • Robin Parker, Beyond Diversity Resource Center
  • Rickey Hall, University of Washington

A sneak peek of thoughts from the presenters:

“Usually, campus climate studies highlight “problems” in organizational diversity and offer later corrections. Our experience has shown that although such efforts are well intentioned, they frequently foment little change and leave constituents dissatisfied and frustrated. The problem arises because too little attention is paid to the inherent strengths the organization has in welcoming diversity and studying how those strengths can be used to build greater capacity. An emphasis on negatives leaves people unprepared and unmotivated. The organization is therefore left with bold recommendations for change around diversity, but those recommendations remain mostly unimplemented because they have a poor “fit” with the way the organization operates.

We will share a case example of this approach from a successful implementation at a university. During the process, we searched for procedures, people, interactions, and settings in which the institution did a good job on diversity concerns. We discovered, for example, where people feel most welcomed and why. We coupled that inquiry with questions about leadership, policies, human resources, and communications that affect campus climate, and used institutional research data that might already be available (such as the National Survey of Student Engagement). As we engaged students, faculty, staff, powerful themes emerged that address the best of what the school does to serve its diverse constituencies, and the actions the institution could take to embrace a rich future.

To gather information, we used a mixed-method approach of focus groups, interviews, and survey instruments to look for themes that emerge from the data. Because transparency and trust were essential for the results of the climate study to be useful, we recommend that a college working group—composed of the different College constituents—be established to assist the implementation team in gathering information. That working group could also operate to help implement change over the long term. We welcome colleagues from any institutional type to come and learn about this innovative method for assessing and responding to campus climate data.”

STAY CONNECTED to the AER KC during the annual conference by following us on twitter at @NASPA_AERKC. Use #SAassess along with #NASPA18 to follow the conversation! We will be live tweeting most of the conference. This is a great way to interact with KC leadership and other conference attendees. You can also "like" us on Facebook for weekly updates. Visit the 2018 NASPA Annual Conference site for more information and check our our AER KC Guide for more events and other sponsored sessions. 

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