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Steps in writing surveys

Watch Linda McKee from AACTE's five-part process for designing and deploying a survey to measure student satisfaction in your teaching program.
I’d like to introduce you to our five-step process for writing surveys. By following this approach, you and your colleagues will provide more consistency when using surveys to assess your learner’s satisfaction with your courses.
The five steps are: Identify purpose, sample and frequency Set the timeline Recruit the development team Write and test your surveys Deploy the surveys Let’s take a look at these five steps in more detail. The first step is to identify the purpose, your program’s participants that you intend to survey - this is the sample (and it may be all of them, or just a select group) and frequency of your surveys. The purpose and sample are about defining what data you want, who you want it from and why you want it. Where does it fit into your overall assessment strategy?
As part of an overall assessment plan, surveys can be planned to follow a logical calendar and also designed to provide triangulation of data sources.
The frequency with which you deploy surveys must be considered in light of the workload they may create for course administrators as well as the reception they will have with the intended participants. Once you’ve established your survey’s purpose, sample and its frequency, you need to move onto the the second step - the timeline. This involves establishing a schedule for the work that permits time for testing and revising. Your schedule should include the points of view of all your stakeholders, both internal and external. Your stakeholders may include students, teachers, faculty, adjunct faculty, staff, colleagues at the institution or within the program, administrators, parents, school level faculty and staff, mentor or cooperating teachers in schools, business associates or community partners.
Additionally, your schedule needs to be realistic for the people who will contribute to your work. How does it fit in around your country’s school or university calendars? If your organisation operates internationally, does your schedule take into account each country’s national holidays? For example, if you work in the Northern Hemisphere, your academic year will probably start in September, but if you’re collaborating with an organisation in the Southern Hemisphere, you need to bear in mind that their academic year will typically start in February. The third step is for you to recruit your development team. This team should reflect all or nearly all of the stakeholders who will be affected by the surveys.
Not all of your team will necessarily have experience with designing or using surveys, so you may need to provide some training. If you are producing surveys for multiple courses, especially ones which fit into a larger qualification or accreditation framework, you may find it more efficient to plan all the surveys simultaneously. Consider the roles that your team needs. While you will obviously need subject matter experts and survey writers, you should bolster your team with participants who possess other expertise. One or two graduates could help brainstorm methods for reaching alumni, perhaps a few employers could offer ideas about how to increase response rates from employment sites.
Representatives from your alumni association could offer insights into how to reach graduates who have moved internationally. With your team in place, your fourth step is to write and test the survey questions. This step will take time, and you need to build in the time for revising your questions. At this stage you will probably need to seek approval from any oversight bodies that are stakeholders in this process. This will help to ensure that your survey and practices are compliant with your organisation’s data ethics policy and any national or international data protection laws. At this stage, you should make notes about the processes that are employed and the people who are participating.
This documentation can be used to establish a process for future survey writing work, as well as contribute to any reporting of continuous improvement efforts. The final fifth step in the development process is to deploy the surveys. While the writing process has ended at this point, you should keep the team that you’ve assembled in the loop with regards to the progress with deployment and the eventual analysis of the data. As you analyse the results of the survey, your writing team can help with reviews as well as in implementing any revisions before the surveys are used again.
Last week, we gave you an overview of a five step process you can follow to design an effective rubric.
In this video, Linda outlines another five step process to help you and your team develop surveys that can be used to measure the outcomes of your teaching program, and your students’ satisfaction.
The five steps are:
  1. Identify the purpose, sample, and frequency
  2. Set the timeline
  3. Recruit the development team
  4. Write and test your surveys
  5. Deploy the surveys
As Linda concludes, it’s important to remember the process does not end at step 5. After each deployment of the survey, it’s a good idea to return to step 1 and review its efficacy. It might be helpful to picture the five steps as a cycle which encourages continuous improvement.
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Designing Assessments to Measure Student Outcomes

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