Tools for Developing a Climate Self-Assessment

This page serves as a companion to the Guide to Best Practices for Departmental Climate. Please address all comments and suggestions via this form or email Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement Dennis A. Mitchell at facultyadvancement@columbia.edu.

Below are tools for developing a Departmental/Unit Climate Self-Assessment, including a Sample Question Bank and instructions for customization.

A Climate Self-Assessment can assist units, schools, or departments in identifying strengths and areas for potential growth. It can offer an informal snapshot, an opportunity to “take the temperature” of the climate as it is experienced by the faculty. 

Please note that the purpose of such a self-assessment is to spark dialogue, to engage with a spirit of self-reflection and openness about aspects of work life that may not be frequent topics of conversation. For units that decide to implement a self-assessment, we provide a bank of sample questions that can be customized to meet your unit's particular needs. The goal of this exercise is not to formally evaluate or compare departments, but to facilitate dialogue within units. The response choices in the sample questions provided do not fall along a numbered scale for this reason.

  1. Review the questions found in the Sample Question Bank document. 

  2. Decide which questions to include in your self-assessment. You may choose to delete or edit the sample questions and/or include additional questions.

  3. Choose your data collection mode. 

    1. Semi-structured. Feedback can be collected informally, with faculty filling out the self-assessment as a springboard to facilitate an in-person discussion. 

    2. Structured. Feedback can also be collected, collated and shared in the aggregate, which might be more useful for larger departments. If your unit chooses a structured methodology an assessment platform like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey or an instrument like Qualtrics is useful. Quick Start instructions for using Google Forms or SurveyMonkey can be found below. 

  4. Synthesize feedback. Identify emerging themes, areas for growth and opportunities for additional potential action. 

  5. Create action steps. Based on a review of the synthesized feedback or departmental conversation, units should identify one or more specific, concrete practice(s) to implement. For ideas, see checklist of action steps on page 4 of the Guide. 

Note: you should be logged out of any non-Columbia Gmail accounts before completing these steps.

  1. Open Climate Self-Assessment Questions in Google Drive. 

  2. A window will pop up. Select “Make a copy.”

Screen shot - Google Drive
  1. Rename the document. This will save it to your drive.

  2. Adapt the document. You may now customize your copy of the self-assessment. Additional instructions about adding or editing questions can be found here

Note: If you plan to use SurveyMonkey, you must create an account. There is a free option that provides limited features. If your survey has more than 10 questions, you will need to upgrade to a paid account. For information on pricing for educational institutions, visit SurveyMonkey’s plan pricing page.

SurveyMonkey has a useful feature that allows users to create survey questions in another program (such as Microsoft Word) and copy and paste multiple questions at once, rather than adding them one at a time (click here for more information on this feature).

This option works for basic question types (multiple choice and single text box only). Once the information is pasted, you can edit and refine individual questions and use more complex question types as you wish. 

For detailed instructions on creating a survey from scratch, visit SurveyMonkey’s tutorial. wikiHow also has step-by-step instructions on their site.

To copy and paste questions:

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1. Create a new Survey. Type your assessment title, and select a category from the dropdown menu. Check the boxes as above, and click “Create Survey.”

2. On the Design Survey page, click Copy and paste questions—it's located under the Add a New Question button on any survey page.

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3. In the textbox on the left, enter your first question (or paste a series of questions):

  • To create a Multiple Choice question, enter the question text on its own line, with each answer choice on its own line immediately below it.

  • To create a Single Textbox question, enter the question text on its own line.

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4. Press Enter twice to start a new question. Each question must be separated by a blank line.

5. In the Preview section on the right, view the questions you add in real time.

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6. Once you finish entering your questions, click Add Questions to add them to your survey and continue setting up your survey. You can add different question types, edit or switch the question type of any question you added here, change the survey title, change the survey theme, add rich text formatting, and more.