9 Best Practices for Designing Surveys for Students

Gathering feedback by designing surveys for students is an important part of any school’s success. Surveys are a great way to do this, but poorly designed surveys can yield inaccurate or incomplete results.

To ensure that the survey you create provides meaningful and actionable data, it’s important to follow best practices for designing student surveys.

The nine tips included below will help guide you in creating effective surveys that your students will be willing to complete and provide useful information about their experiences with your school or program.

By taking the time to thoughtfully design the survey, you’ll be able to collect more accurate data and make better decisions based on what your students have told you.

Everything to Know About Surveying for Education

Surveys are an effective way for schools to gain insight into the experiences of their students. Surveys gather feedback through a series of questions asked by an individual or organization to someone else but can take different forms. Here’s a further breakdown on surveys and similar terms.

Types of Survey Formats

1. Open-ended Surveys – these surveys have no predetermined answers and allow respondents to provide an open-ended response. This type of survey is best used when you are gathering feedback on a subject that may not have predetermined responses or when you want to gain more insight into the respondent’s attitudes and opinions.

2. Closed-ended Surveys – these surveys have predetermined answers and allow the respondent to select one of a few options. This type of survey is best used when you’re looking for specific data on a topic and want to compare results across multiple respondents.

3. Scaled Responses – this type of survey uses a scale, such as a Likert Scale, to measure responses. For example, you might use a survey with a scale of 1-5, where 1 is “Strongly Disagree” and 5 is “Strongly Agree”. This type of survey is useful when looking for specific data on how respondents feel about certain topics or issues.

Under the survey umbrella, you may also see the terms questionnaires or polls. Surveys, polls and questionnaires are all types of data collection tools that can be used to gather information from respondents. While all three tools serve the same purpose, there are subtle differences between them.

A survey is a comprehensive data-gathering process that typically includes multiple questions and responses. Surveys are often used to gain an in-depth understanding of a topic.

Polls are more limited than surveys and typically involve fewer questions with limited responses. Polls are often used to gauge the opinion of a group on a specific issue or topic.

Questionnaires are similar to surveys but generally include more open-ended questions that allow respondents to provide longer responses. Questionnaires are best used when you’re looking for more detailed and in-depth feedback from respondents.

Reasons to Survey Students

It’s important to regularly survey students in order to get feedback on their experiences at school or in a program.

Surveys allow schools and programs to gain insight into student satisfaction, needs, and expectations so that they can make improvements based on the data collected.

Below are a few specific instances where surveying students can come in handy.

To Gain Insight Into Student Experiences and Opinions

Surveying students allows the administration to collect data to gain insight into how well a school or program is performing and helps to uncover areas that need improvement.

By collecting feedback on student satisfaction, needs, and expectations, schools and programs can make changes that will better serve their student body.

To Identify Areas of Improvement in the School or Program

Surveys can also identify areas where a school or program is lacking. One example of an improvement often forgotten about in school spaces is the increasing availability of mental health resources and support.

Schools could provide more guidance counselors and therapists, as well as early intervention programs to help students who are struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, but insight from students is helpful to know specific problem areas.

To Gauge How Well Students Understand Course Material

Creating surveys for students on topics related to the course can help identify areas where more instruction and guidance are needed, as well as any changes that need to be made to the curriculum in order for students to better grasp certain concepts.

While changes can’t be entirely based on student feedback, more specifically individual issues, they can be used to understand a pattern.

To Assess How Well Student Services Are Being Provided

Surveying can also help assess how well student services such as health care, financial aid, and career counseling are being provided.

This data can then be used to identify any areas where these services need improvement or additional resources need to be allocated.

In some cases, you may be able to use this data to advocate for more funding or diverting allocation to cover what students need.

To Measure Student Satisfaction With Their Educational Experience

Surveys can be used to measure how satisfied students are with their educational experiences and curriculum.

For example, which instructors or class styles are successfully compared to the ones that are not or a book that didn’t quite relate to a unit’s theme.

This data can help schools or programs identify areas where they need to make changes in order to ensure that students are receiving the highest quality education possible.

To Help Inform Decisions Made By Administrators, Teachers, and Other Staff Members

Surveys can provide insight into how administrators, teachers, and other staff members are performing. This data can help inform decision-making about staffing, curriculum development, and instructional methods.

To Determine Whether Students Feel Connected to the School Environment

Surveys for students help to see how connected students feel to their school environment.

From there, school officials can strategize to see what additional services, such as clubs, extracurricular activities, and social events might be a good idea to boost morale.

Whether it’s allowing for open-ended answers or providing a list of suggestions to help guide the process.

To Monitor the Effectiveness of New Initiatives or Changes Implemented

Surveying students can help monitor the effectiveness of new initiatives or changes implemented at the school/program level.

In turn, data collected from these surveys can then be used to make additional adjustments in order to ensure that any changes are successful and beneficial for both students and faculty members.

To Evaluate Engagement Levels Among Different Groups of Students

Surveys may be used to evaluate engagement levels among different groups of students such as those from underrepresented backgrounds or those who are at risk for dropping out.

This data can then be used to develop strategies and interventions that will help foster a more inclusive environment and increase student success.

One of the best prevention measures for some students falling behind is often just a matter of understanding.

To Provide Evidence for Grants Applications and Accreditation Reviews

Survey results can be used to provide evidence for grant applications, accreditation reviews, and other similar activities.

This data can help demonstrate the need for additional resources or that a school is providing an effective educational experience for its students.

Best Practices When Surveying Students

1. Create an Accessible Survey

Creating an accessible survey matters because it allows students of all backgrounds and abilities to take part in the survey without any difficulty.

Accessible surveys provide a variety of formats to choose from, such as audio, video, and text-to-speech options, which allow for greater inclusion and participation.

Most importantly, creating an accessible survey helps ensure that the data collected is representative and valid.

2. Make the Survey Short and Engaging

Keep the survey short and engaging to help ensure that students remain engaged throughout the process.

Keeping the survey concise will also help prevent participants from becoming overwhelmed or losing interest halfway through.

Additionally, providing interesting visuals such as graphs or images can help keep student attention and make the survey more enjoyable.

3. Provide an Incentive

Offering incentives to those who participate in the survey is a great way to increase engagement.

This could be anything from a small gift card or prize to recognize when their responses are shared with school administrators or faculty members.

Providing incentives can help ensure that participants take the survey seriously and provide valid feedback. Just be sure to make sure all prizes are within district and individual school policy!

4. Ensure Anonymity

In order to ensure that students feel safe sharing their opinions, it is important to make sure that surveys are anonymous or confidential.

This will help prevent any potential repercussions for individuals who share their views and opinions, which can help create a more positive environment for honest feedback.

Take the efforts needed to make sure that data collected through the survey is kept secure and confidential.

Additional reading: Survey Security and Data Privacy: Ensuring Confidentiality and Protecting Sensitive Information

5. Follow up with Participants

Following up with participants after they have completed the survey can help ensure that their feedback is heard and taken into consideration.

This could include sending out a thank you email or providing opportunities for students to engage in deeper conversations about the survey topics.

Also, following up can help build relationships with students and create a sense of trust between them and school administrators.

6. Create Actionable Insights

Once the survey results have been collected, schools should take the time to analyze and interpret the data in order to identify areas for improvement or make changes that will ensure a better educational experience for all students.

Creating actionable next steps helps to build report with students, encouraging them to reply to future surveys.

7. Regularly Review and Update

It is important to regularly review and update survey methods both leading up to and following a survey.

Regularly reviewing or updating is a crucial step to ensure that schools are taking appropriate steps to address any concerns or issues highlighted by students.

The data can also be used to inform future decisions regarding curriculum design, teaching methods, and resource allocation.

8. Share Results with the School Community

Make sure to share survey results with the school community in order to build trust, encourage transparency, and create a sense of openness and collaboration.

This can be done through emails or newsletters, parent-teacher meeting announcements, or even town halls where students can provide input on how their feedback has been implemented. However, make sure to stay within privacy best practices.

9. Use the Results to Make Meaningful Changes

In addition to sharing survey results with the school community, it is also important to use the data collected to make meaningful changes that will promote student success.

This could include providing additional resources or support for students who are struggling in certain areas, implementing new teaching methods, or increasing access to technology and other educational tools.

view of students working at a table - surveys for students post


Surveying students is an important tool for schools to gain valuable insights into student experiences and help create a more inclusive learning environment.

By following these best practices, schools can ensure that their surveys are accessible, engaging, and provide actionable results.

Regularly reviewing survey results and sharing them with the school community can help foster greater transparency and trust between students and administrators.

When doing this, schools can create an environment where all students can thrive and reach their full potential.

Need to run surveys? Try our free online survey builder and start collecting insights today!


Q: What are the benefits of surveying students?

A: Surveying students can help schools gain valuable insights into student experiences, identify areas for improvement, inform future decisions regarding curriculum design and teaching methods, and create a more inclusive learning environment.

Q: How can I ensure that my survey is engaging for students?

A: It is important to craft survey questions that are clear and easy to understand, provide incentives for participation, ensure anonymity, and follow up with participants. Creating surveys with an appropriate mix of closed-ended and open-ended questions can help engage students in the process.

Q: How can I make sure that my survey results are actionable?

A: It is important to analyze and interpret survey data in order to identify areas for improvement or changes that will ensure a better educational experience for all students. Regularly reviewing survey results and sharing them with the school community can help foster greater transparency and trust between students and administrators.

Q: What should be done with survey results?

A: Survey results should be used to inform future decisions regarding curriculum design, teaching methods, and resource allocation. Where possible, share survey results with the school community in order to build trust, encourage transparency, and create a sense of openness and collaboration.