In order to continually support and engage students, post-secondary institutions must be receptive to their needs and input. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to garnering feedback through student surveys don’t always reap substantial interest or participation, thus limiting their potential to inform campus improvement. So, how should post-secondary institutions go about gathering and utilizing valuable feedback in an age marked by unprecedented efficiency and student autonomy?
1) Provide Context and Generate Awareness
As simple as using specific statistics and figures to emphasize areas of need and concern when rolling out new campus initiatives or improving existing offerings.
Highlighting the direct connection between participation in surveys and the ongoing improvement of campus offerings just might provide students with more incentive to lend their voices. This can be as simple as using specific statistics and figures to emphasize areas of need and concern when rolling out new campus initiatives or improving existing offerings. Presenting data from past surveys in a way that is highly visible to the campus community and easy to decipher through imagery, statistics, and graphs will generate awareness and amplify student voices. This crucial data can be distributed and displayed physically throughout campus buildings and common areas, virtually through social media platforms, or a strategic combination of both.
2) Keep it Simple and Straight-Forward
Students are much more likely to complete surveys if there isn’t too much extra work required of them. Will they need to dig for a pen to fill out a paper-based survey that must be submitted to a specified location on campus? Or will they be taken through a series of links and forms via email before they’ve even had the chance to provide any meaningful input? The path of least resistance also happens to be the path most favored when it comes to survey participation. Similarly, questions should be streamlined for easy and time-effective completion, as an efficient survey is not only more likely to be completed, but will invite increased participation in future surveys as well.
3) Embed it into the Student Experience
The most surefire way to attain feedback within that window of opportunity is to embed survey distribution into the student experience.
The longer the duration between program or event attendance and the receipt of a feedback questionnaire, the less likely a student will be to provide thoughtful and detailed responses. The most surefire way to attain feedback within that window of opportunity is to embed survey distribution into the student experience. Therein lies the question of how to monitor student access of services and garner their feedback in a timely, personalized, and accessible manner? Technology integration and campus-wide collaboration represent two symbiotic pieces of this puzzle.
While the use of monetary or material incentives is used to increase participation, this often comes at the cost of data accuracy. The three considerations outlined above go beyond simple response-rates. As mobile technology continues to permeate college campuses, and students become increasingly active participants in their higher ed careers, modernizing data-collection and survey methods is simpler than anytime in the past.