Discrimination-based questions

Hi Everyone!
I am reworking a university student satisfaction survey. The original survey asked about experiences of discrimination (asked problematically, so I want to rethink them). In trying to remain somewhat aligned with pervious years, I found questions on another student satisfaction survey, but I would love thoughts on issues around this approach, or other suggestions that might be a better way to ask these questions. An example is: Discrimination based on race/ethnicity is rare in my program. with matrix style questions with this same stem on sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and ability. Thank you so much for any support with this!


Hi there @krgrace - great question! There are a lot of folks working on how to do this in colleges and universities. It’s a thorny problem since individuals experiencing discrimination may not be aware that they are in that moment - they may not have any counterfactual experience to compare it with. However, that doesn’t mean that asking people isn’t valuable.

One of the best resources I know of that specifically lists survey questions and validated scale instruments to measure discrimination is from Dr. David Williams here:

Here is an example of some of these questions being tested at a university in the US (what country are you in?)

Sometimes it’s an interesting and useful thing to compare individuals’ responses to more systemic measures of racism. Dr. Paris Adkins-Jackson talks about how to do that here:

thank you so much for these resources! They are very helpful in thinking through this.