Methodology

May 2, 2019

Methodology

The Campus solicited input for the 2019 Zeitgeist survey via an all-student email sent by The Campus on March 11, 2019. After consolidating student, faculty, and administrative input, members of the Zeitgeist team generated 31 survey questions as well as 9 demographic indicators.

The Campus distributed the survey an all-student email on the afternoon of April 2. Responses were open for 13 days, until midnight on April 15. Respondents followed an anonymous link to the questionnaire hosted on the Qualtrics platform. After completing the survey, respondents had the option to enter a raffle. The participants’ identifying information was recorded on a separate database from the survey and survey responses and raffles entries were not linked.

Respondents were asked to respond to a series of questions grouped into four general categories: Academics and Institution, Lifestyle, Sexual Health and Wellness, and Political Views. Only the demographic questions were mandatory, with the remainder of questions both optional and offering a “I prefer not to answer” option or equivalent (when applicable).

The survey data was stored on the Qualtrics platform and distributed to a small group of analysts via Google Drive. Sharing permissions for the Google Drive folder were deleted after the completion of data analysis.

All analysts were required to submit a short letter of intent and to go through a vigorous interview process. In order to protect the confidentiality of respondents, the number of analysts was purposely kept small. All analysts signed a confidentiality form agreeing to adhere to the best practices indicated below.

Analysts were required to indicate their potential areas of conflict of interest and exclude themselves from the analysis if those conflicts were significant. Data remained only on the devices of analysts and never shared externally, including the administration, other clubs, or academic departments.

After finishing analysis, the raw data was wiped from the personal devices of all analysts. Analysts were expected to keep findings confidential until official publication.

When analyzing the data, the team did not examine specific entries or attempt to extract the entirety of a respondent’s data, but worked with the data as a whole. In particular, analysts were made aware of deductive disclosure and barred from using demographic indicators to pin down the specific identities of respondents.

In total, 1201 students responded out of Middlebury’s undergraduate student population of 2579, making the response rate 46.57%. We did not disclose findings that we would not have shared had we found the opposite conclusion to be true. In order to protect the confidentiality of respondents, we have chosen not to disclose or report the responses of groups with 5 or fewer members in demographic breakdowns.

The findings were then compiled and published in the May 2 edition of The Campus. In total, 25 students were closely involved with the making of this year’s Zeitgeist.

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