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Formative Assessment Techniques Online – Surveys

Blackboard includes a survey tool that provides a "wizard" type interface to guide instructors step-by-step through the process of creating a survey in Blackboard. Surveys are essentially ungraded anonymous tests in Blackboard.  Of course, there are other online survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey and PollDaddy.

Whether using Blackboard, SurveyMonkey, or Polldaddy, surveys provide an easy way for you to get feedback from students on new instructional strategies, activities, or assignments. Whether a brief mid-course check-in or a more comprehensive end-of-course survey to supplement the standard course evaluation, surveys provide a convenient method for you if you wanted to include student reaction and feedback in their assessment and evaluation activities.
Online surveys can provide information on student perceptions (emotions, feeling, attitudes) of their classroom experience. For example it can reveal perceptions on:

  • the content of a course
  • specific components of a course
  • course components which aid or are detrimental to learning
  • the effects of course innovations

Using online surveys for an attitudinal survey may also focus on students' needs in taking a course, how well those needs are met, student interest in or appreciation for the subject matter or field, student confidence in their ability to perform in a course, or their beliefs about the nature of the discipline itself, e.g.

  • the nature of a discipline (chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering)
  • the nature of learning within a discipline
  • their ability to learn within a course
  • useful strategies for learning within a course or discipline
  • their own learning style or preferences for learning

Although surveys are always anonymous (individual responses aren't linked to individual students), the Blackboard survey does place a check by the student's name in the instructor's gradebook when the survey is completed.  This allows for follow-up by you to drive up completion rates.

A survey can be useful for gauging the entire class’s grasp of course concepts, since survey answers are aggregated. Because of their anonymous and aggregated nature, surveys may also be particularly handy for course evaluation.

Virginia Commonwealth University  |  Center for Teaching Excellence
Last updated: 09/22/2009
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