Frequently Asked Questions
- What will you do with the data?
- Will my answers be shared with the law school?
- Are you surveying my school only?
- Are my survey responses anonymous?
- Are my survey responses confidential?
Reasons to Participate
- Why should I complete the survey?
- I get surveyed all the time. How is this survey different?
- Who is in charge of the survey?
The Law School Survey of Student Engagement, or LSSSE, is a survey specially designed for students like you to provide information about your law school experience, including your views about the quality of your education and how you spend your time. The survey has a very broad scope in that your school is one of around 70 law schools from different parts of the US and Canada using the survey this spring. But the main reason your school is participating is that it wants to learn more about what students think and do because it wants to improve the program at your school.
When your school got involved in this project it gave us a data file with the names and email addresses of students at your law school. All students at participating law schools are invited to share their views.
We will present data to your institution in a Law School Report that summarizes the responses from all students who completed the survey at your school. This report includes a data file that your school can use to examine the information in different ways; examples might include comparing the experiences of women and men or learning about any qualitative differences between the part-time and full-time programs. This is extremely valuable because most schools do not have good information about how students spend their time and what they think of their school.
In addition, your school's data will be combined with data from students across the country to generate an overall profile of the law student. This national data set will be used to conduct research to improve legal education. Individual student responses are not identifiable in any reports.
Absolutely. One of the most important reasons to do this survey is so that your law school discovers what you and other students at your school do and think.
In the spring, around 70 schools will be involved in the survey. This is an annual study, so the information you provide now will become part of the national database and be used for some time to come as people compare your responses with students in the future.
Yes. The final survey data we send to your law school will not include any information that may be used to identify individual students (for example, names, email addresses, or other personal identifying information). We take additional steps to protect your identity by redacting the data in those limited instances in which the small number of respondents that fit a certain profile might make it more likely that your identity could be discovered.
LSSSE data is available under certain circumstances to scholars who will use the data for research purposes. Data provided to scholars never includes individual student or school identification information.
As a general matter, LSSSE takes steps to ensure the security of your responses through our secure computing environment. In addition, we never use social security numbers for identification.
Yes. Confidentiality of student data is a high priority at LSSSE. LSSSE will only release survey responses identified by student to the law school at which that student is enrolled, and even then only to personnel designated as our official contacts at that institution. Our use of student data is regulated by the U.S. federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [FERPA, 34CFR 99.31(a)6(i)], which allows educational institutions to share student data with outside agencies conducting research for the purpose of improving instruction. For the full text of FERPA: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf. Students should contact their own institution for information about institutional policies for protecting student records.
Simply put, your school needs to know what you think of your educational experience, the kinds of activities you do, and how you are benefiting from your studies. Without this information, it's not very easy for faculty and staff at your law school to identify the areas that can and should be improved. The more your law school knows about its students and what they do there, the more likely it is that faculty, academic and student life administrators and others can take appropriate action that will improve legal education.
Have you heard the expression, "think globally, act locally?" This is a national project with immediate local implications. That is, more than 30,000 students around the country are getting the same survey. And people will be interested in what law students as a group think about their education. But it's also important that your school find out directly from you about your experience and then share what it learns through comparisons with other schools. This will, probably for the first time, give your faculty and administrators an answer to the question: "How well are we doing?"
Finally, this survey differs from most others you get because what you say will become part of a continuing national study that people at your school as well as law schools around the country will continue to use for the foreseeable future. So, your answers will not only help your school, but many others around the country as well.
The project is located at Indiana University Bloomington and is directed by Aaron Taylor, a faculty member at St. Louis University School of Law. The Center for Survey Research at IUB, directed by Ashley Clark, administers the surveys. These people are supported by dozens of others who help design and administer the surveys and then analyze and report the results to your school and the other participating law schools around the country.