Increase Survey Responses
Reflecting over best practices and areas of improvement is an admirable quality for an instructor, and helps enhance the quality of the online courses we provide through CAS. The Student Survey of Instruction (SSI) is a valuable tool to help us reflect on our courses, and yet many students do not provide this critical feedback. Administrators and instructors know how to wade through the information provided on SSIs to reveal true gems of useful feedback among the various negative rants and/or glowing praise provided on the survey. Students have to complete the survey first. Instructors may play a pivotal role in getting students to complete these surveys.
Recent Research demonstrated the impact micro-incentives have on increasing student participation. Micro-incentives are little rewards you provide students for their participation or earned success in a course. These could be extra credit points, leaderboard rankings, digital badges or any other reward you provide your students to reinforce the behavior you wish to acknowledge. For example, students who receive an 80% or higher on their weekly quizzes receive a digital badge and 5 extra credit points on the next exam.
This strategy rewards students with two micro-incentives (digital badge and extra credit) for earning high grades on weekly quizzes. This also means students will have to studiously prepare for their quizzes to receive high marks. In this example, these incentives can encourage participation, heighten excitement for success, build confidence for students going into their exam and reward students for a job well done. These small “wins” for students may be just the motivation they need to do well in the course. Additionally, this is not required so students do not feel pressure to participate and their grade does not suffer with lack of participation.
Gamification is another online course strategy to encourage student participation and success. Gamification is simply using micro-incentives to appeal to students who are motivated by healthy competition among their peers. For an overview of gamification, read this article. And for an example of how gamification can be incorporated into a course check out this article co-authored by Dr. Susan Stansberry in the College of Education, Health, and Aviation.
Encourage Students Completion of the Survey
You can use micro-incentives to encourage students to participate in the Student Survey of Instruction toward the end of the semester. Dr. Thad Leffingwell in the Department of Psychology shared that SPCH 2713 has an average SSI response rate of 88-90%. They concluded that incorporating this statement into their syllabi could be the key to the high response rate:
Course Evaluation Completion Extra Credit: Students will receive extra credit for completing the online course evaluations. Those who complete the evaluations within 24 hours of their availability will receive 15 points; those who complete the evaluations within one week of their availability will receive 10 points; those who complete the evaluations thereafter will receive 5 points.
Students share the email comfirmation they receive after submitting the survey to the instructor (or upload to a folder in the course) to receive their credit. Send an email to your students when you know the survey is open and remind them to complete the survey. You can also create your own course survey in free anonymous platforms like SurveyMonkey and ask students specific questions regarding the course. Poll your students frequently to gauge their satisfaction in the course (Poll Everywhere). Providing these opportunities for student feedback conveys to your students that you care about their opinion, which helps them develop a sense of ownership and responsibility to the course. It also gives you the tools you need to continue enhancing your online course for the future.