Best practice for pulse survey design
Pulse surveys are often completed anonymously, but if there is a need to identify students so that their responses can be sent to appropriate people, for example, tutee information to tutors, or an individual’s welfare concerns to the senior tutor, the surveys can be set up to capture identifying information. It is important to inform students how their responses will be used and who will have access to the information.
Anonymous surveys can be created in ICT-supported tools: Blackboard, Qualtrics, Microsoft Forms and Mentimeter. Mentimeter is designed to be used in real-time with visualisations of responses shared with participants, but the participant link can also be distributed or embedded elsewhere, e.g. in a Blackboard course, for asynchronous participation.
A non-anonymous survey can be created in a Blackboard course and made available to students in the course content. Non-anonymous survey data downloaded from Blackboard must be stored in a secure location, such as OneDrive for Business or SharePoint. Any sensitive information should be encrypted for storing or sharing.
Over half of students report that they do not get enough opportunity to provide feedback on their courses. Pulse surveys are a quick and simple tool to facilitate dialogue between students and teachers.
Pulse surveys accordion widget
What are the benefits of pulse surveys?
- Provide an opportunity for students to feed back early in the course
- Starts a conversation between staff and students
- Allows staff to make real-time adjustments to facilitate students’ learning
What questions are useful?
Example questions from pilot questions include:
- ‘What’s been the most useful [aspect of the course]… ‘
- ‘What’s been the most challenging…’
- ‘What do you need to meet those challenges’
- ‘What do you need help or advice in’
How often should they be run?
- The timing is flexible and should be based on what is relevant for the module
- Pilot projects identified that 3-4 questions every 2-4 weeks is useful
- Potentially ask different questions at different times of year, e.g. how can we help you prepare for exam / prepare for new term
How to respond to student feedback?
- Important for staff to respond to student feedback in a timely way (try not to collect more data than you can digest)
- Involve class reps to help identify key issues and potential responses
- Useful to summarise feedback for the whole class, address what can be changed, what cannot and why
What platform is useful?
Pulse surveys have a flexible design facilitate a low barrier to participation
- Blackboard quizzes
- MS Forms
- Mentimeter polls
Should student feedback be anonymous?
- Anonymity tends to bring honest feedback and more responses
- Non-anonymous surveys can be set up as tests in Blackboard so that students are identifiable for follow-up. On other platforms, students can be invited to give their email if they want to be identifiable for follow-up.