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The Revealing Institutional Strengths and Challenges (RISC) Survey provides detailed, actionable data about student success, using the latest advances in survey research and technology. Survey results pinpoint where students are experiencing obstacles and identify campus offices that excel in helping students succeed in college.

The survey is optimized for cellphone use; our research shows that students typically answer web surveys using their cellphone. Unlike other surveys, both questions and question responses are randomized for each respondent to avoid order effects. Although the survey has more than 100 questions, our unique branching approach allows most students to complete the survey in less than 10 minutes. This allows institutions concerned about survey fatigue to easily slot the RISC survey into their regular survey lineup.

The survey has three main sections:


Asks students about challenges they face during the current semester in five broad areas: academic support services, campus environment, finances and financial aid, succeeding in their courses, and work and personal issues. Each section has multiple challenges, with over 80 unique challenges to student success across the five areas, such as errors with financial aid paperwork, not being told to take a course necessary for their degree, or difficulty using course technology in online classes.

Student-Office Interactions

Asks students about their experiences with five campus offices; the specific offices are chosen by the college. Office names are customized for each campus, so that students see office names they recognize. Our research indicates that students want office staff who are accessible, concerned about helping them, and can effectively solve their problem. Students describe the five offices on these three dimensions.

Student Views of the Institution

Asks students about their overall perceptions of the college. Students are asked if they would recommend the college to a friend, whether the college is a good value, and how well the college is helping them meet their goals, such as improving job and career opportunities or preparing for a four-year degree.