The Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct was designed to collect a significant amount of detail on a wide range of victimizations, including harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence (IPV), and various forms of nonconsensual sexual contact (NSC). This involved asking respondents not only about the occurrence of particular types of victimization, but also for incident-level details about what happened.
The Association of American Universities (AAU) contracted with Westat, a research firm, to work with a university team of researchers and administrators to design and implement the survey. The survey was developed by a group of researchers, program administrators, and methodologists from the participating institutes of higher education (IHEs) and the Westat Team. The design team started with the survey instrument developed by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and adapted the design around the informational needs of the participating IHEs. When asking about sexual assault and sexual misconduct, the questions used descriptions of specific types of behaviors and tactics that constitute sexual assault and misconduct. Words such as "rape" and "assault" were specifically avoided so that respondents would use a set of uniform definitions when reporting on the types of events that were of interest.
During a 4-month period, comments from participating IHEs were reviewed, two rounds of cognitive interviews were conducted and pilot administrations were conducted at four participating IHEs. The survey was then administered at the 27 participating IHEs. For 26 of the 27 schools, all enrolled undergraduates, graduate, and professional students 18 years and older were asked to participate.
In total 27 institutes of higher learning were sampled. Of the schools sampled most schools observed a 3-week field period, with three email requests sent out asking for student participation. To encourage participation,
students were offered a variety of incentives. In 18 schools, students were either entered into a
drawing or offered a $5 incentive to complete the survey. Some schools offered a variation on this basic design. Other schools offered an incentive to all students, while a few offered no incentive. For 26 of the 27 schools, all enrolled undergraduates, graduate, and professional students 18 years and older were asked to participate. The sample size was 779,170. Of the total sample, 196,984 clicked on the link to the survey. Of those who clicked on the link, 169,486 started the survey.
Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students of 27 institutions of higher education.
Association of American Universities
The survey structure is made up of 10 sections (A-J). A core set of 53 questions was asked of every respondent, including Background (A), Perceptions of Risk (B), Resources (C), Harassment (D), Stalking (E), Sexual Violence (G), Sexual Misconduct Prevention Training (H), Perceptions of Responses to Reporting (I), and Bystander Behavior (J). Questions regarding Sexual Misconduct Prevention Training (H) were asked of students who had enrolled in the university in 2014 or 2015. Respondents in a partnered relationship or who had been in a partnered relationship since enrolling at the university were asked questions about Intimate Partner Violence/Domestic Violence (F). Additional questions were administered if respondents reported being a victim of one of the types of violence covered on the survey. For Harassment, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence/Domestic Violence (sections D, E and F), follow-up questions were asked for each type of misconduct. These follow-up questions collected information across all reported incidents for each form of victimization.
The sample size was 779,170. The final response rate of this sample was 19.3 percent. This rate varied by gender (males 15.6%, females 22.9%) and enrollment status (17.4% undergraduates, 23.2% graduate/professional). The difference between the incentive and the non-incentive conditions was approximately 9 percentage points (25.8% vs. 16.5%). Private institutes of higher education (IHEs) had a response rate of 34.2 percent and public IHEs had a response rate of 16.5 percent.
The AAU in some instances uses preexisting scales. Specifically the AAU survey measure of sexual harassment used portions of the Leskinen and Cortina (2014) scale representing each of the major dimensions they describe: 1) sexist remarks, 2) sexually crude/offensive behavior, 3) infantilization, 4) work/family policing, and 5) gender policing.
Also several Likert-type scales were used to reflect items that range from
- Not at all to Extremely
- 0 times to 10 or more times
- 1 time to 4 or more times
- Excellent to poor