Journal of East China Normal University(Educationa ›› 2018, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (4): 53-61+163.doi: 10.16382/j.cnki.1000-5560.2018.04.005

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Reliability of Self-reported Data in College Student Engagement Surveys: Social Desirability Bias in Self-reported Survey

GUO Fei, ZHAO Lin, LIAN Zhixin   

  1. Tsinghua University, Institute of Education, Beijing 100084, China
  • Online:2018-07-20 Published:2018-07-05

Abstract: Inspired by learner-centered and evidence-based evaluation in higher education quality assur-ance, investigations on college student experience and engagement become increasingly popular in China. However, with self-reported survey as a major instrument, the quality of data collected in such investigations is vulnerable to bias caused by socially desirable responses. Using data from the China College Student Survey (CCSS) in 2014-2016, the authors found that indicators constructed from student self-reported data on learn-ing activities and perceptions are subject to a social desirability response bias of 5-10%, while the bias in ob-jective information reported in the survey (such as GPA) is negligible. What's more, the higher the students' social desirability level, the larger the bias. It's also found that the size of social desirability bias shows its correlation with the content of the question items and indicators. These findings have methodological signifi-cance for quantitative investigations in social sciences. Further, implications for survey instrument develop-ment are discussed.

Key words: self-reported survey, social desirability response bias, college students