What It Is
A student survey is a method of collecting information from learners about themselves, the curriculum, teaching methods, and course design. Student surveys can be used before, during, and after instruction. Surveys allow instructors to get to know learners, build a classroom community, and evaluate learning progress. Student surveys can easily inform practice, so instructors can improve teaching.
Why It Matters
Learners come from different social and cultural backgrounds and bring their own unique perspective to a course. When learning becomes personal, meaningful, and relevant, learners are more likely to stay engaged and motivated. Developing and administering a survey provides instructors with valuable information about learners; informing course design, teaching practices, and relationship-building. Additionally, this proactive approach can foster a learning environment that is welcoming, inclusive, and engaging.
1. Pre-course survey – developing a pre-class survey is an effective tool to get to know learners before a class starts. The benefits of this approach can be threefold:
- – Get to know learners’ identities, backgrounds, interests, academic aspirations, etc.
- – Identify learning needs and connect learners with resources to support their learning (e.g. disability accommodation services, technology support)
- – Foster a sense of community and trust in the learning space
2. Mid-course survey – Instructors can administer a mid-course survey to evaluate how learners are progressing. If the survey feedback indicates the majority of learners are struggling with certain concepts, consider pausing and spending a little extra time clarifying any confusion before introducing new concepts.
3. Survey questions – Surveys can be composed of multiple-choice, true or false, and open-ended questions. Survey questions don’t just encompass text; they can be creative using pictures, audio, videos, and other multimedia formats. Here are a few examples of pre-course survey questions:
- – What are three things I should learn about you?
- – What do you want to get out of this class?
- – What challenges do you expect to encounter in this class?
4. Survey length – Keep the survey fairly short; a brief survey requiring no more than 2-3 minutes to complete.
5. Survey anonymity – Surveys can be distributed either anonymously or identifiable depending on the goal of the survey. Anonymous surveys encourage responses and more candid answers from learners. Qualtrics.com generates and distributes anonymous surveys through sharing links.
- – Read: Students as Partners in Teaching and Learning
- – Read: Reflective Teaching
- – Watch: Taking the Pulse of a Class with Poll EV
- – Watch: Developing a Pre-course Survey through Qualtrics
- – Explore: Keep Teaching Survey Templates
- – Explore: Qualtrics
Wilson, K. (2018). How (And Why!) to write a pre-course survey or questionnaire. Northwestern School of Professional Studies. https://dl.sps.northwestern.edu/blog/2018/04/write-pre-course-survey-questionnaire/
YALE Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Developing a pre-course survey. https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/strategic-resources-digital-publications/managing-classroom/developing-pre-course-survey
Cite This Resource
Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation. (2023, February). Assessment types: Diagnostic, formative, and summative [Teaching resource]. https://stli.wm.edu/student-surveys/