FAQ: Using Qualtrics survey software to collect student feedback on classes and instruction

How do I use Qualtrics survey software to collect student feedback on classes and instruction?

Answer

Virginia Tech has purchased a Qualtrics site license that makes this online survey software available to students, faculty and staff. Register for a Qualtrics account at http://virginiatech.qualtrics.com

There are five steps in this process, each is detailed below.

  1. Create a template for the survey items and import that template into Qualtrics.
  2. Setup a panel of survey respondents using class rosters (from Banner or Scholar).
  3. Configure Qualtrics settings.
  4. Send out survey and collect results.
  5. Analyze results and distribute to individual instructors.

Step 1: Create a template for the survey items and import that template into Qualtrics

A good place to start is to decide upon the questions to ask on the survey.  These questions should be created using a simple text editor.  When ready, go to Create Survey and choose Quick Survey Builder.  Give the survey a name.  Then use the Advanced Options|Import Survey feature of Qualtrics.

Here’s an example of what could be in the file:

[[AdvancedFormat]]
[[Question:MC]]
[[ID:q1]]
The instructor was well prepared.

[[Choices]]
Strongly disagree
Disagree
Somewhat disagree
Somewhat agree
Agree
Strongly agree

[[Question:MC]]
[[ID:q2]]
The instructor presented the subject matter clearly.

[[Choices]]
Strongly disagree
Disagree
Somewhat disagree
Somewhat agree
Agree
Strongly agree

[[Question:TE]]
[[ID:q3]]
What did the instructor do that most helped in your learning?

See this for more formatting details.

NOTE: The three sample questions above are from our university standard survey form used by the Scholar SPOT survey system.  You are welcome to use the same questions we use (there are 12 total) or another set of your choosing (See: University’s standard SPOT form).

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Step 2: Setup a panel of survey respondents using class rosters (from Banner or Scholar)

One of the more time consuming, yet critical parts of this process is setting up student panels which will result in the right students being able to take the survey.  The first step is to get a list of all email addresses for those you wish to survey.  Generally, this data will come from Banner (or it could come from Scholar).  Then, create a .csv file with the email addresses and other key data elements, in this case, we’ll use the course identifier, along with an instructor name in the file.

Here’s an example of what your input file will look like:

PrimaryEmail,Course,InstructorName
studenta@vt.edu,MATH_1000_55555_201201,Michael Jordan
studentb@vt.edu,ENGE_2000_55555_201201,Scottie Pippen
studentc@vt.edu,MATH_1000_55555_201201,Michael Jordan
studentd@vt.edu,CEE_5000_55555_201201,Lebron James

Once the file is ready, the next step is to import the panel.  Go to Panels|Create New Panel.  Choose a name for the panel.  Choose Import from File and use the file you just created.   Your panel is then ready.

NOTE: Notice that in the above, the course identifier and the instructor name are included.  This is done to cut down on the overhead if one wishes to run such surveys for a large number of courses and only want one copy of the survey form and one set of emails to go out to students.  If this process is used for a single course, these data elements would not be as important.  Other elements could easily be added if appropriate to help students know which course this is for (such as Course Title, Course Day and Time, etc).

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Step 3: Configure Qualtrics settings

Your survey form is setup and your panel is ready with respondents.  Now, we’ll make sure the settings are the way we want them to be.  Go to Edit Survey and choose the survey you are working with.  Then pick Survey Options.  There are many choices here that impact how the survey will run.  It is recommended that you set these parameters:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to Save Changes.

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Step 4: Send out survey and collect results

Everything is setup, now it’s time to distribute the survey.  Choose Distribute Survey.  If not already active, you’ll need to Activate your survey to collect responses.   Then Email Survey.  Setup the email by choosing your appropriate panel from Step 2 above, configuring When to send, adding a subject and any appropriate text to the body of the message.  In order for students to see the instructor name and course information, you’ll want to use the Insert Piped Text option “{a}”.  This allows one to specify in the email any data elements from the panel desired.

Set up and then choose Send Now.

Here’s an example with the course identifier and instructor’s name “piped” in:

Dear Student:

Please complete an evaluation of: ${e://Field/Course}
Instructor: ${e://Field/InstructorName}

Your feedback is important and highly valued! Instructors use it to improve teaching methods and
course content. Departments use it for faculty development activities, decisions about promotion
and tenure, and faculty evaluation. Aggregated results will be shared with instructors after grades
have been submitted for the term. Instructors will not be able to identify which responses belong
to which students unless you provide self-identifying information in one of the open-ended items.

${l://SurveyLink?d=Take the Survey}

Evaluations will be accepted through 2/12/2012 11:00pm.
Thank you for your participation!

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Step 5: Analyze results and distribute to individual instructors

There are several options here, but in the most basic sense, all that is left is to review a report.  Go to View Reports.  In order to separate results per course CRN, filter by Embedded Data by adding a Subgroup to the report, then making the statement read “If Embedded Data Course is Equal to” {Course}.   Add as many subgroups as desired based upon reporting needs.  Filtered reports can then be exported and sent out to appropriate instructors. 

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