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Cornell University

Survey Tools

What are survey tools?
Why use survey tools in your course?
How can you use survey tools for teaching and learning?
How can you implement survey tools in your course?

What are survey tools?

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

Cornell supports the survey tool Qualtrics, which all Cornell users can access with their Cornell NetID and password. Blackboard also has a survey feature that Cornell Blackboard registered users can access.

Why use survey tools in your course?

    • Easily collect information 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.


How can you use survey tools in teaching and learning?

    • Find out relevant background information such as background knowledge, prevalence of commonly held misconceptions, current opinions of course topics, and reasons for taking a course.

    • Check student learning without doing a graded assessment. Many informal Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) that check background knowledge on a topic or measure student learning can be conducted with online survey tools.

    • Measure the effectiveness of a particular teaching strategy. By conducting pre/post surveys you can assess 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 implementing 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 evaluations. Asking one or two questions about how your course is going gives you the opportunity 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 a willingness to listen to feedback/engage with students to improve the class.


How can you implement survey tools in your course?

    • When creating an online survey for your students, keep the survey as simple and concise as possible, and design effective questions.
    • Check the survey by completing it yourself prior to giving it to students.
    • Before conducting the survey, explain why you are collecting 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, guide students on how to provide effective feedback by articulating the characteristics of effective and ineffective comments.
    • Provide an incentive for students to complete 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 appropriate, ask students to predict what you might discover.
    • Share your results with students and explain what the results mean and how they might influence your course.



CTI Survey Tools: Finding Out What Students Already Know pdf file (CU NetID required to access. Link redirects to login page.)
Cornell Academic Technologies Blackboard help site on Tests, Surveys, and Pools.

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