Collecting Demographic Information

Survey instruments often include items allowing respondents to self-describe various aspects of their identities. It is important that as we consider including these kinds of questions in our questionnaires that we design them in ways that acknowledge just how complex, broad, and contextual students’ (and faculty’s and staff’s) social identities actually are (ACPA, 2013).

The university, through the Office of the University Registrar, maintains several pieces of demographic and academic information on every student, including, but not limited to:

  • race/ethnicity
  • date of birth
  • address
  • residency
  • classification
  • college/major
  • sex
  • admission type
  • first-generation status
  • academic history

Other offices on campus may have information specific to the programs and services they offer.

Linking demographic characteristics or academic information related to students to survey data requires a key - either the students Net-ID or University ID number. Both are unique identifiers and can distinguish students from one another.

Before asking demographic questions, it is important to consider several questions to determine whether or not they are needed.

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