Recently, I was blown away by an online “Race & Gender Issues” course here at UNLV. Not only was the course well designed and very interesting, but for each module, there were specific surveys that really encouraged the students to get excited about the topics explored. It made me think about what an important tool surveys and polls can be in online and hybrid courses.
If you want to increase the interest level or help students relate what your teaching to their everyday life, then a well designed survey is a simple way to work towards that.
From a students perspective, the most interesting courses are ones that are applicable and relevant to them. Most instructors are passionate about their content area but only some of them are able to convert their passion into something that students relate to. It’s true that we aren’t all passionately interested in the same things. However, when we integrate the student’s perspectives, passions, opinions, and thoughts, not only do they become more connected with the content but everyone enjoys the topic and everyone learns together! That is why surveys are so great! Here are just 3 steps to zap some life into a course.
3 Steps to Zap Life into Your Course with Surveys!
1. Explore the free survey tools that are available! Sometimes the best thing to do is to take a couple minutes and check out the options. Seeing samples and types of surveys out there will be a great start in helping you design high quality, interesting, and successful surveys for students. Here are just three tools that I think are amazing!
- Polldaddy.com is awesome! In just a few minutes you can create a poll question or survey and embed it right into your LMS (Learning Management System) or presentation. Students can vote and immedietely see results.
- Polleverywhere.com allows students to use their mobile devices to send a text or respond online to the survey question and it’s immedietly reflected. You can embed these in PowerPoint or other presentations, asking your students to respond using their devices. No clickers needed!
- Surveymonkey.com allows you to develop a thorough survey asking multiple choice, likert scale questions and much more. It allows up to 100 respondents for free. It’s a great tool to help you find out what your students think about the course and what suggestions they have for you to consider in future revisions which leads me to step 2.
2. Find Out What Your Students Think About Your Course! Feedback like this is crucial when you review and make updates/changes to your course. As we all know, curriculum development is never ending so why not let your students help you! Consider how the following info might influence how you revise your course:
- Which topic are they most interested in?
- Which part of the course/module/lesson do they like the most/least and why?
- Which module could benefit from additional practices or lesson aids
- Do they have any feedback regarding: course design, instructor interaction, the etextbook, or course materials?
Successful companies always encourage feedback from their clients. Your students are your clients and their feedback can help in many ways. After just a single survey of gathering feedback like this, you can target needed areas of course improvement, plus imagine how empowering it is for them to know that you care enough to revise the course and make it better based on their suggestions. Just because students offer suggestions, doesn’t mean you have to do it all, but at least you will know what they are thinking. Also one other tip, don’t “over survey” your students. For best results consider the length and time restrictions your students may have.
3. Survey/Poll Students on Course Related & Thought Provoking Issues!
If you visit a news website, it’s likely there will be a poll question on the page which relates to a current topic of interest. It’s hard for me to ignore them. I’m always curious to vote and see how my thoughts correlate with the majority. Students are the same way!
Carefully review the topics you are teaching and consider how students might be individually interested in it. Here are a few survey question starters:
- What do you think about….
- Which of the following are…
- How do you feel about….
- When do you….
- Where do you….
- Why do you…
Then list the options. Questions/Polls can be simple yes/no questions or more advanced allowing students to post their individual responses for all to see. The key is to survey them on topics that are related to the objectives of the course while also relevant and interesting to your students.
What other ways have you used surveys/polls in your course? Have you seen an increase in student satisfaction, course completion, etc since using surveys? What tips do you have for design? Please share your thoughts in the comments area!