Cultural Climate Survey FAQ

Updated 4.16.21

What is the cultural climate survey?

In February 2020, Georgetown University administered the Campus Cultural Climate Survey. The survey was designed to gather information about ways in which campus environments shape the experiences and outcomes of diverse student populations at Georgetown.

Why is Georgetown administering a survey on cultural climate?

The purpose of the survey is to help the University examine, understand, and improve campus environments in order to maximize student success. This survey will allow us to examine the students’ participation in practices that meaningfully engage their communities around issues of diversity, perceptions of institutional diversity, representation of marginalized groups, and experiences within the cultural climate on campus, and perspectives about how well faculty engage culturally relevant and responsive practices in the classroom. Data will help inform how we can enhance or build meaningful programs and support systems to ensure an inclusive education for all members of our community. 

How was the survey administered?

The survey was administered electronically by Georgetown’s Office of Assessment and Decision Support (OADS) in partnership with the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action (IDEAA). The survey was open from Monday February 24 to Friday, April 24, 2020. 

An email invitation was sent to enrolled students in Spring 2020 to participate in the survey on February 24. The email invitation included a unique link to the online survey and was signed by Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. The first reminder email was sent by Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer Rosemary Kilkenny, on March 1, 2020. Six subsequent reminder emails were sent to those students who had not yet completed the survey, with the last reminder sent on April 23, 2020.

It is important to note that the fielding of the survey occurred prior to, during, and after Georgetown’s transition to emergency remote instruction in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Who took the survey?

The survey invitation was sent to all degree-seeking students on the Main Campus, the Law Center, and the Medical Center. Excluded from the invitation were students in non-degree programs, online distance programs and the Georgetown Qatar campus. A total of 15,838 students were sent an invitation to complete the survey, including 6,636 undergraduates and 9,202 graduate/professional students.

How was the survey instrument developed?

In August 2019, the 2020 Campus Cultural Climate Survey working group was formed and began the survey development process. Led by the Vice President, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer, this survey working group comprised members from the Office of Assessment and Decision Support (OADS); Office of Public Affairs; the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Office of General Counsel; as well as the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, School of Medicine; the Director of Equity and Inclusion, Law Center; the Associate Vice President, Office of Student Equity & Inclusion; the Director of Title IX Compliance; the Director of Health Education Resource Services; and student leaders from Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA). Between August 2019 and February 2020, the team met weekly to review progress and make decisions on the questions to be included in the survey.

The 2020 Campus Cultural Climate Survey used items from the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) questionnaire developed by the National Institute for Transformation and Equity (NITE). The CECE survey was designed to examine, understand, and improve campus environments, as well as to and maximize success among diverse student populations. Since Fall 2019, Georgetown has been consulting with NITE on the use of the survey instrument and access to comparison institutions’ data. To maintain reliability and validity, item wording and formatting from the original standard CECE survey remained consistent. Although modules were added from several alternatives provided by the CECE survey design team, the survey flow remained intact.

In addition to the CECE questionnaire, the 2020 Campus Cultural Climate Survey for undergraduates includes Georgetown-specific questions. These custom questions were drafted by students and revised based on the feedback collected from two rounds of cognitive pretesting conducted by OADS with students outside the working group. Agreements on the revised questions were reached at the working group meeting on January 9, 2020.

How were the demographic categories and other terms selected in the survey?

We heard helpful feedback from many constituents on campus about the wording of the survey, including categories for demographic information such as sexual orientation, gender identity, race and ethnicity, among others. We appreciate that there is a wide range of accepted terminology in these areas, and that preferences can differ. The use or omission of certain terminology does not indicate an endorsement of any particular term over another.   

What topics were explored in the survey? 

The survey covered a variety of topics, including 

  • Cultural Relevance – The extent to which campus environments reflect and value the diverse cultural communities, backgrounds and identities of the students.
  • Cultural Responsiveness – The extent to which campus environments responded to the needs of diverse students and provided the support for students to thrive. 
  • College or Graduate School Experiences – Students’ experiences on belongingness, difficulties, changes in abilities and commitments compared to when they started at Georgetown, and satisfaction with their experiences at Georgetown (for undergraduates) or in their current graduate school (for graduate/professional students).
  • Institutional Diversity – Students’ experiences in the campus climate on safety, prejudice and discrimination, as well as their perceptions on Georgetown’s commitment to diversity and responsiveness to campus climate problems.
  • Culturally Responsive Support Systems – Students’ experiences with faculty and staff, as well as the extent to which faculty, administrators and staff provided holistic, proactive and humanized support.
  • Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy – The extent to which faculty engaged culturally relevant and responsive practices in their classrooms.
  • Georgetown-Specific Topics and Issues (for undergraduates only) – Questions developed by the Georgetown CECE working group and student representatives. These questions cover topics on encounters with police, faculty diversity, campus facilities and accessibility, student services, affordability and food options, pronouns/preferred names and documentation status.
  • Engagement with Diversity (for graduate/professional students only) – Students’ experiences with activities that fostered learning and development around diversity and inclusion at Georgetown.

Where can I find the key findings?

Here are the Undergraduate Student Key Findings and the Graduate/Professional Student Key Findings.

What does standard error mean? How does it impact how we interpret the data?

Nearly every percentage shown in the tables is a sample-based estimate. The standard error is a measure of how stable a given estimate is likely to be over repeated samples of the same size. Statistically, it is the standard deviation of the estimate shown over repeated samples and is based on the underlying sample size from which the estimate is drawn. Generally, the smaller the standard error is in relation to the estimate it accompanies, the more stable the estimate is.

Will Georgetown be conducting the survey again?

We will administer this survey every three years to track these issues.

I want to talk to someone about these results. Who can I contact? 

For questions about the survey, please contact the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action at ideaa@georgetown.edu.