Fearless Speech Index

Are students afraid to speak openly at your school? How can you know?

Everyone wants an open environment where all members of the academic community can express their ideas honestly. But increasingly since 2014 we hear reports that students and professors are heavily self-censoring, learning to “walk on eggshells.” Is this going on in your classroom, or at your university or high school? If so, then it is vital to know: WHICH students are feeling intimidated, about WHICH topics, and WHY? Are students primarily afraid of the professors, or of other students? Is it happening in all departments, or only in a few?

Heterodox Academy has designed a tool to provide good data on these questions. Our Fearless Speech Index is easy to administer, and it will give you a diagnosis, an X-ray, of what’s going on. Such data will help teachers and administrators to design effective interventions — for example, asking all students and faculty to participate in the Viewpoint Diversity Experience.

The FSI is designed for teachers and administrators, who can create their own unique link and send it out to their entire class, or school. Here’s the process:

Step 1: Create a free account for yourself at YourMorals.org.

Step 2: Create a “group,” to refer to your class, or school, or whatever the unit is that you want to survey.

Step 3: Take the FSI yourself, which will make the FSI become the most popular survey in your group. But don’t fill out any of the questions — just click through the several pages of the survey, until you get to the feedback page at the end.

Step 4: Send the link you got in Step 2 out to your class, or school, or whatever. Anyone who clicks on the link and then fills out the survey will find their data presented at the end, compared to all members of your group. By looking at the feedback graphs, you can see how your group is doing. If you want to get the raw data from us to dig deeper, we’d be glad to send it to you. Just email Sean Stevens, after everyone has completed the FSI, and tell us the name of your group. For more details on how to create a group and some suggested text to send out to your group, please see here.

The full text of the FSI is available here [doc].

FOR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS: Current IRB rules require that participants be 18 years old or older, to participate in research on our website without written parental consent. However, because we are getting ever more inquiries from high school teachers, students, and parents of students, we have created a version of the FSI for high school students that is available here [doc]. Schools have broad leeway to conduct research for the purpose of self-assessment and improvement.

We can also set the survey up for you on SurveyMonkey and then transfer ownership to you.  This will allow you to conduct the survey yourself, as well as analyze the data easily from within Surveymonkey.  To do so please contact Sean Stevens with your request.  Please be aware that you will need a Gold or Platinum account with Survey Monkey for us to offer you this option. (Qualtrics is an option too).