by | Apr 6, 2016 | News

September 02, 2015

A collaborative partnership between the University of Michigan and SoundRocket now offers colleges and universities across the nation affordable access to a national campus climate survey measuring sexual assault.  Piloted at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor during the Winter 2015 term, the NCCS successfully measured what was previously thought of as unattainable in college student surveys.  The survey achieved a final response rate of approximately 67%, demonstrating how a comprehensive and responsive survey design can be implemented to achieve a more balanced and representative collection of responses.

The National Campus Climate Survey (NCCS) has been designed to meet all state and federal requirements for the conduct of sexual assault surveys, and promises to adapt as new laws emerge.  The NCCS will provide a scientifically rigorous survey instrument to help schools understand what is happening on their campuses.  Schools will have an opportunity to participate at one of three tiers of implementation – to allow schools to maximize what they get out of participation at a level that is commensurate with their resources. Unlike any other study currently offered, the NCCS will provide schools with a benchmarking tool to assess their own strengths and weaknesses in comparison with other schools.

The NCCS will be led by Principal Investigator William Axinn of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, where he serves as the Director of the Program in Society, Population and Environment; and is a Professor of Sociology. Data collection activities will be led by the Director of Data Collection, Scott D. Crawford, of SoundRocket, in Ann Arbor,.

The collaboration between SoundRocket and the University of Michigan was initiated during the pilot sexual assault survey fielded to students at the University of Michigan.  This collaboration makes it possible to offer the study as a service to schools at a reasonable price. Moreover, SoundRocket’s involvement acts as a third-party separation between the students’ identifiable data, their participating schools, and the University of Michigan.  The collaboration becomes a guaranteed firewall for students to feel they can respond honestly to the survey.  SoundRocket pledges to maintain strict confidentiality of students’ data, as well as any individual school’s data.  Release of school-level data will remain entirely under the control of the participating school.

Schools will be asked to support data collection costs through a participation fee, starting at $12,000.  Early enrollment and referral discounts will allow schools to participate for under $10,000.  Those wishing to replicate the full design as implemented in the pilot will be able to do so with more involved service tiers, for additional costs.  More details regarding the tiers and prices are available at

Each participating school will receive a summary report of findings for students at their school and comparisons with all participating schools.  Schools will also have the opportunity to add up to five of their own custom questions, and will receive a student-level (de-identified) dataset so that they may pursue their own further analysis.  If a sufficient number of schools join, the NCCS will offer the ability to compare your own school’s results against a group of peer institutions selected by the participating schools, from among all schools participating.

Scott D. Crawford states, “The NCCS will raise the bar on college student surveys.  For the past couple of decades, we have watched college student survey response rates plunge.  Sub-20% response rates have become the ‘norm’ and efforts to turn that trend around have not been successful.  What we have demonstrated, however, is that when we combine solid methodological evidence and practices comprehensively, it is possible to reverse the trend.”

Dr. William Axinn, the Study PI, suggests that understanding the issues around campus climate regarding sexual assault requires more than simple methods, practices, and statistics:  “Large national studies continue to demonstrate that solid survey methodology works.  If applied to the issue of sexual assault on campuses, as the NCCS has and will continue to do, each school will have an opportunity to direct change on their campus.  Understanding prevalence rates is important, but when we apply advanced analytic models to data that is inclusive of typically underrepresented groups, we begin to show the risk and protective factors at work.  Using national data from this study and others, combined with local data, institutions will be able to shape policies, invest in programs, and continue to build a culture supportive of learning.”

More information about the National Campus Climate Survey is available online at, and can be found on Twitter at@NCCSurvey.

Organizational Info:

SoundRocket ( is an Ann Arbor-based social science survey research firm founded by a University of Michigan graduate, Scott D. Crawford, and formerly known as Survey Sciences Group, LLC.  SoundRocket’s purpose is to propel social science forward for the greater good.  Its mission is to develop and deliver innovative, science-guided survey methodology practices and services to the global community of social science researchers.

Since its founding in 2004, SoundRocket has been involved in conducting hundreds of social science survey projects.  SoundRocket has an expertise in collecting data from college students and data on sensitive topics.  Most recently, SoundRocket completed a large data collection effort called the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (


Scott D. Crawford
950 Victors Way, Suite 50
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
Ph: 734-527-2150

Twitter: @SoundRocket

Full release available in PDF here.


Currently, the FDA only regulates true direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests, which have no health care provider involved either before or after testing. Consumer-initiated, physician-mediated genetic tests are considered lab developed tests (LDTs), which currently do not require FDA oversight. 


Our Study Design

Our study was designed to simulate the experience of an everyday person who is considering doing a health-related genetic test. For this reason, we only reviewed website contents presented to a consumer before ordering a test. By limiting our data collection to pre-test content, instead of digging around or contacting the companies to fill in missing data points, gaps in public-facing information that consumers use to make ‘informed’ decisions were revealed.  

Also, while a genetic counselor supervised the project, a research assistant (RA) conducted most of the website investigations. The RA was familiar enough with genetics and genetic testing to understand and identify the information presented on the websites, but has not had the clinical exposure that might create bias from knowing how specific tests work “behind-the-scenes”. 


To Sum Up

We set out to understand the landscape of health-related consumer genomics testing from the public perspective. By limiting our research (by design) to public-facing pre-test website content, we could not complete our data collection as set out in the protocol. However, this uncovered an important observation: consumer genomics websites are highly variable in content, readability and ease of use. 

This begs the question, if we can’t find basic test information on a consumer genomics website, how does a consumer have enough information to make an informed choice about testing? 

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series, where we will dig into our study findings and reveal our most interesting observations.  



As experts in FDA user comprehension studies for consumer genomics companies seeking 510(k) clearance, we are interested in how everyday people access and understand health content that is meant for them. If you need help optimizing your consumer-directed health communications, we’ve got the in-house expertise and experience to meet your needs. Let’s chat

About the Author


Understanding human behavior—individually and in groups—drives our curiosity, our purpose, and our science. We are experts in social science research. We see the study of humans as an ongoing negotiation between multiple stakeholders: scientists, research funders, academia, corporations, and study participants.