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Why Use Surveys?

Survey tools help facilitate the online distribution and collection of surveys that respondents can complete using any device. Surveys can be used on a small scale for surveying students in a single course about their experiences or on a large scale for conducting a nationwide study. Survey tools will automatically compile the survey results and will often include some automatic visualizations of the data.

With survey tools, the instructor can learn more about students’ learning experiences through informal assessments (e.g. background knowledge, misconceptions, opinions, etc) and course evaluations. This gives the instructor the opportunity to adjust their teaching methods and material and as a result improve their course. Where surveys focus on understanding a larger volume of feedback, polls target particular, immediate responses for just-in-time teaching.

What Can I Do With Them?

To create and administer surveys, instructors can use tools like Canvas Quizzes(which can be ungraded and anonymous), Google Forms, and Qualtrics. The instructor can create a QR code for the survey using a free service like QR Code Monkey. Instructors can use these tools explore the following areas:

Student Experience

An important part of learning is making connections between “book learning” and one’s own experience in the world. These text-to-world connections can be both illuminating and transformative. Giving students a survey asking about their prior experience can help promote these connections. Surveys can also reveal a surprisingly diverse range of student backgrounds. Allowing students to answer anonymously may also help facilitate conversations about more sensitive or controversial topics.

The instructor can also use surveys to conduct ‘’wellness checks’’ and take attendance during class time.

Student Research

By conducting their own research and/or collaborating with faculty, students are able to be mentored into and practice quality scholarship. Learning how to narrow a research question, construct instruments, or analyze complex results are skills that must be learned by doing. Surveys offer a no/low-cost, convenient, and non-invasive mechanism for students to get started with both quantitative and qualitative research.

Student Feedback

It is important to ask students to give feedback on a course while their concerns and suggestions can still be addressed—so well before the final course evaluation. There are several ways to solicit student feedback (including via a Mid-Semester Group Feedback session with CNDLS); a survey is one common way. In constructing the survey, consider whether to allow anonymous responses or not, and make sure students are informed about the format and purpose. Anonymity is likely to encourage more honest responses, but it also precludes individual follow-up.

How Faculty Use Surveys

Get Started

Google Forms

To access Google Forms, log in on the Georgetown Google Apps page, click on the menu icon (nine small squares) in the upper right corner, and select Google Forms. For how-to support, visit Google’s support pages on Forms. To learn more about other Google Apps, visit the Google Apps tools page.

Canvas Quizzes

For course-based surveys where it isn’t necessary to share the results in a spreadsheet, Canvas offers the option of deploying both graded and ungraded surveys. See the Instructure documentation on surveys for more information.


For larger scale research or surveys with complex branching, Qualtrics is a more viable option. Visit the UIS Qualtrics information site to learn more about Qualtrics at Georgetown or to request a Qualtrics account. Please note that Qualtrics is to be used for academic and non-commercial research purposes only.

Get Help

Contact CNDLS