What Is a Student Perception Survey?

Written by Explorance.

Students in front of a book

Higher Education Institutions should be collecting feedback and data from their students on how they prefer to learn through their numerous daily interactions with them. However, without properly looking at the data, the true meaning of these insights can remain locked and inaccessible.

In a recent survey by EDUCAUSE, the 3rd most important trend in Higher Education Institutions is “More calls for data-informed decision-making and reporting.” The need for formal student feedback analysis programs is becoming a common concern in the education industry.

This article will examine a critical step in optimizing the student experience: the student perception survey. After a thorough explanation of the concept, a student survey’s important steps and components will be provided, as well as answers to common objections.

What is a Student Perception Survey?

Student perception surveys are questionnaires specifically designed to gather insights and opinions directly from students throughout their educational journey. These surveys allow Higher Education Institutions to capture data about their students’ sentiments – interests, engagement levels, and satisfaction, and use that information to make data-informed decisions.

The topics of these surveys can be varied:

  • Overall satisfaction
  • Student-faculty interaction
  • Course content and delivery
  • Technology and campus resources
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Campus Safety

The purpose of these surveys is to provide valuable insights that inform decision-making, guide improvements, and ultimately enhance the student experience.

There are a few misconceptions when it comes to student perception surveys. For example, some instructors view them as popularity contests that can have dire effects on their careers and that all student perception surveys are the same.

This can be quickly answered by being transparent and honest about the focus of your student survey process. These surveys shouldn’t be used to single out instructors or classes but rather to uncover the larger trends that might be affecting the student experience.

The Components of a Student Perception Survey

Student perception surveys can take any form and subject needed to gather relevant information. However, it is often best to begin with a broad survey, planning more specific ones after uncovering trends that might need extra attention.

Below are the most common starting points to get the most information. For each section, ensure you have a good mix of quantitative and qualitative answers to be able to have a wide range of analyses.

Demographic information

It is crucial to leverage demographic data like age, gender, ethnicity, and grade level on your student surveys This data will be the backdrop for all the other answers you gather and will provide you with the necessary context for the other data you gather. An automated student survey solution, like Explorance Blue, makes including demographic data in your student survey easy through a best-in-class integration with your institution’s SIS, HRIS, LMS, and other IT systems.

Teaching effectiveness

This section can be worded in many ways, but subjects like the clarity of information, teaching methods, and evaluation of knowledge delivery can all be useful starts. Again, this shouldn’t be framed as an evaluation of the teaching staff but rather how their work relates to student workplace preparedness and knowledge retention.

Curriculum relevance and difficulty

A student survey offers you an opportunity to gauge if your course content is still in sync with student expectations and if they still match up with societal evolution. Surveying your alumni on their workforce experience can also provide valuable data about your curriculum.

School culture

A student perception survey is arguably the only way to gauge school culture accurately. It is one thing to have a general idea of what your school stands for, but unless you check in with your students to see if it’s true, it will only remain words on your school’s crest.

Campus resources and facilities

Where to allocate resources and which facilities to focus on is a perpetual headache for the administrators of Higher Education Institutions. While student opinion is not the end all be all of these decisions, it can give you a good idea of which facility or resource is most used by students and which ones have the highest impact on their experience.

Conducting a Student Perception Survey

Student perception surveys all battle with the same main issue: student participation. Instead of seeing it as an objection or reason not to go ahead with the survey, try to find initiatives and measures you can establish to improve the situation.

The main reason behind low student participation in surveys is their perceived lack of impact. If you commit yourself to sharing the results and explaining your actions in a public forum, students are more likely to take the time to fill out the survey.

It’s also important to evaluate the time at which the survey is distributed. Should it be done before or after the final exam has been delivered? Should it be before or after a new resource has been implanted? The answers will be specific to your institution but are crucial to increasing student participation in your surveys.

Another interesting method is to tie it to early grade release. For example, all students receive their final grades on June 20th, but everyone who answered the student perception survey gets them 5 days early. This is a small incentive but often shows tremendous results.

Another element of student participation is reassurance towards anonymity and confidentiality of results. It’s important to have a detailed section on this subject to quash any potential insecurities that could lead students not to answer the survey.

Interpreting and Utilizing the Results of a Student Perception Survey

The most important step of a student perception survey campaign is not the design of the questions, it’s the analysis of the answers. This is where the inclusion of technology becomes downright essential.

A student experience survey solution like Explorance Blue will allow you to instantly see the greater trends within the data and classify them to evaluate their importance. This kind of platform is also extremely helpful in improving student participation by providing many built-in features – QR codes, mobile, embedded in their portal – to help students access and respond to questionnaires more quickly and efficiently.  

Additionally, Explorance MLY is a machine learning comment analysis platform that will allow you to transform qualitative into the main themes in student comments, including:

  • Top 5 most popular topics
  • Top 5 most positive topics
  • Top 5 areas to improve
  • Actionable recommendations

While publishing the results isn’t a mandatory step, it’s an important one if you want to influence future participation in your surveys. Try to tie every statistic or question/answer to a concrete action you’ve taken to show the link between data and decision-making within your institution.

Starting Your Student Perception Survey Journey

Student perception surveys are an essential tool that every single Higher Education Institution needs to integrate within their decision-making process. It’s the perfect opportunity to gather data on your student body and uncover trends you couldn’t know about otherwise.

These surveys also allow you to move away from intuition-based decisions and foster data-based decision-making. At the end of the day, a Higher Education Institution is built for the success of its students, it’s only right that it is being improved based on their voices.

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