This article provides best practices for eliciting constructive feedback and high survey response rates.
Think of it as a Partnership with Students
Educators make the biggest gains when they partner authentically and transparently with their students to create a more engaging and equitable learning environment. Make sure your students understand why you’re asking for their feedback and what you’re doing in response to it.
Accessibility & Incentives
Ask students to complete the survey synchronously during class time, e.g. give students the last 5 minutes of class time to complete the survey.
Add the survey link and instructions to your learning management system (LMS) as an assignment and, if relevant, to your syllabus.
Award extra credit for survey completion. Award it individually to students who complete the survey or to the whole class if they reach 80% completion.
Explain the Purpose of the Survey
Students won’t authentically engage with the survey unless they understand its purpose. Explain that:
You will use their feedback to learn how you can improve their learning environment.
You’re asking for feedback multiple times with the same questions so you can recognize whether the changes you’re making are working for them.
Their responses are anonymous: You will not know how any individual participant answered a given question.
You will debrief the results and be transparent about what you are doing well and what you are trying to improve.
Show You’re Listening
Students need to know that you are paying attention to their survey responses. Otherwise, they won't take the survey seriously, and their responses won't reflect how they really feel. Take time to show your students that you are listening, and they will tell you how to improve. They’ll also appreciate being heard.
Here are some ways to demonstrate listening:
Acknowledge and reference their feedback in your class. For example, when you introduce a new practice, mention that you are starting the new practice because you heard from students it was important.
Debrief the results with students and be transparent about areas where you are doing well and what you are trying to improve.
If you have questions, seek to understand and dig deeper with students through class discussions, peer interviews, or focus groups. Avoid disregarding or explaining away feedback.
Check out this video with teachers Ashley Kannan and Aracely Paniagua who describe how they partner with their students to make sense of their feedback and come up with action plans together.