Exploring your campus is a compelling way to gather quantitative and measurable knowledge about the student experience, course effectiveness, diversity, and campus participation. By collecting feedback regularly, universities and colleges can support and engage students more effectively.

Surveys can sometimes go unnoticed and unanswered because students receive numerous emails and notifications. If the average online survey response is only 20-30%, institutions need to find unique ways to present their surveys to students so that they can get better survey responses.

Top 5 suggestions for better survey responses

1. Don’t Depend Only on Mail 

For almost 30 years, email surveys have become an increasingly popular and accessible method of data collection. While email is a great channel to include in your research strategy, we think it’s best to consider several methods when collecting data. 

Many students receive more external spam in their school’s email account, and they usually have multiple email addresses, some of which are rarely checked. To avoid burying or not seeing your survey at all, try posting a web link or QR code to the surveys directly in your learning management system or elsewhere, which is the central center for course content, announcements, and academic resources. Your LMS is already a familiar place for students to visit and is available to both online and campus students, making it an ideal place to conduct your student surveys.

Remember that while devising creative methods of data collection is the key to increasing response rates, using a more traditional approach, such as email surveys, should be part of your survey strategy. If you send surveys via email, make sure students know it’s from your organization’s domain. More than 90% of students are more likely to open an email from their organization. Using features like white-label, custom domain names, and branded templates will help you avoid ignoring or confusing your inbox!

2. Carve class time

Make surveys available and get richer feedback from students by stimulating them to ask and answer questions about the survey in class. Try adding short surveys to the lessons to collect real-time results, or ask the class for feedback after submitting new material using a QR code. 

Lastly, don’t be afraid to use your smartphone for an hour. In the 2017 survey, more than 94% of students surveyed said they wanted to use their mobile phones in the classroom for academic purposes, such as registering for a class (60%) and answering class surveys (59%) – learn more about using surveys and QR codes in this classroom.

3. Think about design

Creating clean, well-designed research will increase your students’ participation and, in turn, the answers. In one study, participants noted that efficiently designed design issues, such as lack of color, insufficient introductory content, and excessive corporate appearance and feelings, were the main reasons they did not address the content of the study. When thinking about research design, be sure to include a short but informative introduction to set expectations for respondents. 

Finally, use a research design to account for student time. Consider using the progress bar so that respondents can keep track of how much they have completed and how much they still need to complete. 87% of students are ready to complete the survey if you do! And although 94% of students prefer short surveys, institutions sometimes require more in-depth feedback. Use the design to increase the responses to these longer surveys.

4. Take a survey after the class

At times when in-class research may not be an option, try to catch students outside the classroom! With offline surveys, you can gather feedback and knowledge from students from anywhere without access to Wi-Fi, making it an excellent option for campus events such as conferences, networking events, field research, and more.

Try setting up the device or kiosk in high-traffic areas where students are less busy, such as a library or student service lounge. If you need quick student feedback, use kiosk mode to collect feedback on your device and automatically enjoy when surveys go back from the completed page to the home page. One survey after another – no people needed!

5. Sharing is caring

If your survey does not include confidential results, such as feedback from individual classrooms, get used to sharing the results with your students or the campus. Creating feedback where students feel welcome, and valued improves students’ engagement and increases their likelihood of providing feedback in future research. If you intend to use their feedback to make substantive changes or decisions, be sure to mention this in the research call. Then try to display the results on the department’s website via social media or discuss the results in class! This results in better survey responses.