Improve continuing education survey response rates, even online

Tue, Aug 27,2013 @ 11:45 AM
by Kathryn Lynch-Morin |

Improve your program's survey results, online and offThere are a lot of great reasons to switch from paper to online surveys when it comes to course evaluations.

Maybe you wanted to reduce printing costs or you simply thought the platform was more convenient, especially for online courses, but, for some reason, the results are lacking.

Some LERN members have seen their response rates decline after switching to online-based surveys, and while all feedback is valuable, the more you have to work with, the better.

Here are a few tips to improve your survey response rates both online and off:

1. Include the questions you need answered, but keep the surveys short.

Design web-based surveys the same way you would paper surveys, and limit them to just a few pages. Group the questions into categories and insert page breaks where appropriate in both online and paper surveys.

2. Make it clear that the survey and its responses carry weight.

If people think their opinions don't matter, they aren't very likely to share them, but when people perceive that a survey is important, they are much more likely to fill it out. Include a statement at the beginning of the survey that the information collected is used in the creation of new courses, staffing choices, or whatever else the case may be. 

3. Let people know ahead of time how long the survey will take to fill out.

No one likes thinking they're nearing the end of a survey only to see the progress bar has barely hit the halfway mark. Give people an idea of how long it will take to fill out the survey or, at the very least, tell them how many questions are on the survey so they can keep track for themselves.

4. Don't surprise people with a survey.

If giving a course survey is common practice in your program or at your institution, include it on the syllabus or course schedule so participants know well in advance. If someone is reminded every time they look at their syllabus or schedule they will be asked to take a survey the last week of class, chances are good that you'll get a higher response rate.

5. Give people a choice.

Whether your course is online or in-person, give people a choice of whether to fill out an online survey or one on paper. This strategy not only makes filling out the survey more convenient for the person responding, but it also reinforces No. 2, that the survey and its responses carry weight. 

6. Allow class time to complete the survey.

While this strategy is more applicable to in-person classes, it can be applied online as well by incorporating the survey into the last online discussion.

7. Send an email invitation.

This approach is beneficial for online, in-person and hybrid courses. Making sure you follow the guidelines listed above, send a personalized email invitation to participants asking them to complete the survey. Make sure they email subject is clear so it won't be looked at as SPAM.

8. Offer an incentive to those who complete the survey.

If you're still having a tough time getting people to respond, it might be time to offer an incentive for filling out the survey. A discount on a future course or an entry into a drawing for a free iPad could garner great results.

Download the final  2013 LERN Annual Conference brochure



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