Survey tools help facilitate the online distribution of surveys that respondents can complete from a web browser on a computer or phone. Survey tools will automatically compile the survey results and will often include some automatic visualizations of the data.
Survey tools help to streamline the distribution and collection of surveys and reduces the introduction of human error during data entry or data transfer. Surveys can be used in a small scale for surveying students in a single course about their experiences or on a large scale for conducting a nationwide study.
An important part of learning is making connections between “book learning” and one’s own experience in the world. These text-to-world connections can be both illuminating and transformative. Giving students a survey asking about their prior experience can help promote these connections. Surveys can also reveal a surprisingly diverse range of student backgrounds. Allowing students to answer anonymously may also help facilitate conversations about more sensitive or controversial topics.
By conducting their own research and/or collaborating with faculty, students are able to be mentored into and practice quality scholarship. Learning how to narrow a research question, construct instruments, or analyze complex results are skills that must be learned by doing. Surveys offer a no/low-cost, convenient, and non-invasive mechanism for students to get started with both quantitative and qualitative research.
It is important to ask students to give feedback on a course while their concerns and suggestions can still be addressed—so well before the final course evaluation. There are several ways to solicit student feedback (including via a Mid-Semester Group Feedback session with CNDLS); a survey is one common way. In constructing the survey, consider whether to allow anonymous responses or not, and make sure students are informed about the format and purpose. Anonymity is likely to encourage more honest responses, but it also precludes individual follow-up.
Google Forms is a convenient option for sending a quick survey that embeds directly in a Gmail message. Google Forms is also a good choice when there is a reason to have the data in a Google Sheet (a Google Sheet is created automatically when responses are returned from the survey). Google Sheets are convenient for sharing spreadsheet data with colleagues and students at Georgetown. To access Google Forms, log in on the Georgetown Google Apps page, click on the menu icon (nine small squares) in the upper right corner, and select Google Forms. For how-to support, visit Google’s support pages on Forms. To learn more about other Google Apps, visit the Google Apps tools page.
For course-based surveys where it isn’t necessary to share the results in a spreadsheet, Canvas offers the option of deploying both graded and ungraded surveys. See the Instructure documentation on surveys for more information.
For larger scale research or surveys with complex branching, Qualtrics is a more viable option. Visit the UIS Qualtrics information site to learn more about Qualtrics at Georgetown or to request a Qualtrics account. Please note that Qualtrics is to be used for academic and non-commercial research purposes only.
For a consultation on designing your course in Canvas, including best practices, please contact CNDLS.