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Survey tools

Survey tools

29 May, 2016

Survey tools are online tools that can be utilized to electronically collect answers or responses to questions from a target audience. Online survey tools feature various question types, including multiple-choice, ranking, or open-ended, and many others.

Advantages of Survey Tools

  • Easily collect data about your students such as:
    • What students know about the course subject on the first day.
    • Why they are taking the course.
    • What their expectations are for doing so.
    • What students currently think about course topics.
    • What and how students are learning.
    • How students are experiencing the course.
  • Quickly review for themes or common issues with automatically aggregated survey responses and survey result graphics. Your survey results can inform your next steps in teaching.
  • Help students become more reflective and aware of their learning as they answer surveys about their learning experiences.

Using survey tools in teaching and learning

  • Identify relevant background informationsuch as background knowledge, prevalence of commonly held misconceptions, current opinions of course topics, and reasons for taking a course.
  • Evaluate student learningwithout doing a graded assessment. Many informal Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) that check background knowledge on a topic or measure student learning can be done with online survey tools.
  • Assess the effectiveness of a particular teaching strategy. By conducting pre/post surveys you can check and document both actual learning that takes place and attitude changes over time.

    For example, at the beginning of a course, you can measure student knowledge about or attitudes around a topic. Then, after applying a new strategy, perhaps active learning, or problem-based learning, you can measure any changes in knowledge or attitudes since engaging in a particular learning activity.

  • Collect mid-semester course evaluationsAsking one or two questions about how your course is going gives you the chance to deal with any issues before the course ends. Mid-semester course surveys can give you insight into student learning and classroom climate; as well as demonstrate an interest to listen to feedback/engage with students to enhance the class.


Implementing survey tools in your course

  • When creating an online survey for your students, keep the survey as simple and brief as possible, and design effective questions.
  • Check the survey by responding to it yourself prior to giving it to students.
  • Before conducting the survey, explain why you are gathering the data and share whether or not the survey is anonymous. Express how much you appreciate student feedback and explain how valuable it is to you as you refine your course.
  • If you are requesting open-ended feedback, for example, assist students on how to provide effective feedback by articulating the characteristics of effective and ineffective comments.
  • Give an incentive for students to finish the survey, such as by offering a credit point, or give them class time to complete it if you know each student has access to the internet on a personal device.
  • If suitable, ask students to predict what you might discover.
  • Share your results with students and explain what the results mean and how they might affect your course.