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Boost Your Response Rate With These Higher Ed Survey Questions

Heather Mueller
September 19, 2014
Min Read

If you work in higher education, you know how valuable student feedback can be. Professors, administrators and students can all benefit from professional online questionnaires. And thanks to form-building tools like Formstack, you don't need a big budget to gather extensive, reliable insights. Stick to the following tips for crafting questions and creating surveys that get answered.

Why Bother to Survey Students?

It's a great way to:

  • Gauge student satisfaction
  • Gather testimonials
  • Provide constructive course feedback
  • Decide on new courses
  • Evaluate vendors
  • Assess campus visits
  • Gather event feedback

And that’s just for starters. Online surveys can reveal valuable insights on all kinds of programs and processes, as long as they’re easy to complete.

How to Write Survey Questions for Students That Actually Get Answered

The same basic rules apply whether you’re surveying undergrads, Ph.D. candidates or graduating seniors:

Need Some Sample Questions?

Here are three common types of student surveys, along with sample questions you can start using today:

1. Course and Instructor Evaluation Surveys

First, add short answer fields to collect essential data including the course number or name, professor and the student’s class year. Then use this list of sample questions to get started:

Radio Button Questions:

  • Why did you choose this course?
  • Would you recommend the course to fellow students?

Matrix Questions (Very Good/Good/Fair/Poor/Very Poor*):

  • Overall, how would rate this course?
  • What was your knowledge level at the start of the course?
  • How much effort did you put into coursework?
  • What was your level of knowledge at the end of the course?
  • How would you rate the instructor’s lectures and explanations of the material?

Long Answer Questions:

  • What was the greatest strength of this course?
  • What suggestions do you have for improvement?

2. Satisfaction Surveys

Anonymous customer satisfaction surveys have remained in vogue for years, and with good reason: they’re an insightful, affordable way to measure progress and make improvements. When building a satisfaction survey for students, start by collecting necessary info—major and name of academic advisor, for example—then add easy-to-answer questions such as:

Matrix Questions (Extremely/Very/Moderately/Slightly/Not at All*):

  • How effective is the teaching within your major?
  • How effective is the teaching outside your major?
  • How helpful is your academic advisor?
  • How easy it is to register for courses?
  • How helpful is the [career counseling, health center, financial aid, etc.] faculty?
  • How safe do you feel on campus?
  • How valuable is your educational experience at this university for the price?
  • How satisfied are you with [food services, housing, availability of technology, etc.]
  • Overall, how satisfied are you with your experiences at this university?

Long Answer Questions:

  • What were your favorite experiences on campus?
  • What would you most like to see changed on campus?

*For “very poor” and “not at all” answers, use Conditional Logic to ask additional questions and gather more insights.

3. Graduation Surveys

There’s no better time to find out how well the university is preparing students for life beyond graduation than, well, at graduation. Use this time to ask important questions such as:

Checkbox Questions:

  • What were your top three reasons for selecting this university?
  • What will be your primary activity after graduation?

Radio Button Questions:

  • What was your primary goal for attending this university?
  • How well did faculty prepare you for post-graduation activities?
  • How well did your major prepare you for post-graduation activities?
  • How likely are you to recommend this university to others?

Long Answer Questions:

  • How could the student experience at this university be improved?

Start Building Surveys Today!

Looking for an easy, affordable and effective way to build online student surveys? Our form builder comes with pre-packaged templates you can customize for your university. Sign up for your free trial here to get instant access.


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Heather Mueller
Heather is a website copywriter and digital content strategist who loves helping brands generate leads through the power of the written word—especially when using Formstack. Connect with Heather on Twitter @heathermueller.
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