Prepare the Decision Spreadsheet and Local Questions

October 13, 2017 (first day of classes on or before January 19)

October 27, 2017 (first day of classes after January 19)

As CSA, you’ll lead the process of preparing one Survey instrument for each population that will be surveyed at your institution. We ask institutions to submit their Decision Spreadsheets on one of two dates depending on the semester start date at the institution, so that the first institutions to be surveyed have as much time as possible to review their surveys before launch. Because you may extensively customize the MISO Survey instrument and because each population you survey requires a separate instrument, this aspect of your preparation is very intensive. Your decisions will all be recorded in the Decision Spreadsheet. If you choose to add local questions to the Survey instruments for your campus, these questions will be recorded in the Local Question Spreadsheet.

  • Decision Spreadsheet 2018 (via, login required)
  • Local Question Spreadsheet 2018 (via, login required)

At most institutions, the process of determining which questions to include in the MISO Survey instruments, how to customize the Survey’s questions, and whether to craft local questions requires extensive input from the management of your IT and library organizations (or merged organization). Some CSAs lead a management team charged with making these decisions, while others facilitate a broad consultation process. You’ll record your institution’s decisions in the Decision Spreadsheet. For best results, please download and use a new copy of the Decision Spreadsheet when recording your decisions.

Below is more information about the required, optional, customizable, and local questions that may be included in the Survey instruments.

Required questions
The MISO Survey contains a very small number of required questions about IT and library services that are commonly provided at colleges and universities. These questions are a fundamental part of the MISO Survey instrument and may not be changed or excluded. The MISO Survey Administrator can make exceptions to this practice in the following situations:

  • Required questions can be customized if the question as currently worded isn’t meaningful to your campus respondents
  • Required questions can be excluded from the Survey if your institution doesn’t offer the service measured by the question.

Optional questions
Most of the questions in the MISO Survey are optional and may be excluded from your institution’s survey instruments. In general, you should include optional questions that will inform future planning or evaluate critical services but exclude other questions that are not as useful for your organization. It’s very important that these decisions are made carefully, because including too many questions may produce a lower response rate (as many members of your community may not be willing to complete a long survey) or may generate ill-will among community members who complete the Survey but feel frustrated about the time it takes to complete. The MISO Team strongly recommends that the number of included optional questions be limited so that your instruments may be as short as possible.

When making your decisions, please keep the following in mind. For help thinking about these issues, consult your MISO Team liaison.

1. When considering whether to include an optional question, think hard about whether its results will be actionable. The MISO Team strongly recommends that you exclude questions whose results are interesting to know but potentially not actionable.

2. The number of items you include in the Survey’s use, importance, and satisfaction questions have the greatest impact on whether your community members actually complete the Survey. We recommend that you include only items you are sure will be actionable for your institution.

3. Consider starting with only the required questions and then adding a few groups of optional questions that address specific service areas where the results of the MISO Survey can have an impact either on service quality or on select upcoming decisions. This will produce a short, tailored Survey that’s both actionable for your organization and bearable for your campus community.

4. If you are concerned about the number of questions that you plan to include but need to have information about many service areas, consider administering the MISO Survey in multiple years and including a subset of your must-have questions each year that you administer the Survey.

5. Consider creating a brief Assessment Plan that outlines what you wish to know about your IT and library services. This Plan can help guide your decisions about the Survey instruments and help you avoid including the “interesting-to-know” questions that expand the Survey’s length without increasing its value.

As you record your decisions, take note of two key indicators built into the Decision Spreadsheet that will help you determine whether your instruments are too long. The first indicator suggests how frustrated your community members may feel and the second approximates the time required to complete the Survey. (These indicators are based on an analysis conducted by the MISO Team using data collected from past administrations of the Survey.)

Customizable questions
The MISO Survey contains many questions that can be customized to ensure that they’ll be well understood by survey respondents on your campus. For example, questions that ask about the “Computing help desk” can be customized to replace this phrase with the name of your organization’s help desk. Be sure that you record each customization in the Decision Spreadsheet and double-check to be sure that the customization is both clear and easily understandable.

Demographic questions
At the end of the survey, there are a series of demographic questions that can be used to insure your respondents match up with your populations and are used by the MISO Team to gain added insights during our analysis of the national survey results. One of these questions focuses on the academic divisions at your institution and requires customization. Please record your institution’s academic divisions (ex. Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences) in the Survey Decision Spreadsheet. If you have previously administered the MISO Survey at your institution, your liaison will provide your past instruments for your review. The MISO Team recommends that you use the same academic divisions that you used in the past.

Local questions
Although many institutions choose to administer the MISO Survey without any local questions, you may decide to create questions that are specific to your institution. These questions may focus on areas of service or topics that are not addressed by the standard MISO Survey instruments. Once you draft your local questions, we recommend that you test them using a focus group to ensure that they will be clearly understood by survey respondents. (A focus group is composed of 5-7 individuals from the target population – faculty, students, or staff – who can tell you whether they understand what your question is asking. The group may also suggest other phrasings that may be clearer.) Consult an assessment professional on your campus – perhaps in your Institutional Research office – for help testing your local questions. Once these questions are ready, submit them by completing the Local Question Spreadsheet. If you have questions about submitting local questions, please contact your MISO Survey Team liaison.

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