Obtaining feedback is a critical part of almost every role in Student Affairs. Whether you’re in search of data to evaluate an event, or seeking commentary about satisfaction with customer service at your front desk, knowing clever and creative ways to obtain such information is critical. A key challenge is to avoid the temptation to inundate student email accounts with a litany of requests to complete surveys. With this in mind, here are the three different approaches I take to secure the feedback I need to support my team’s work:
Liaising with those involved either as participants or organisers/facilitators of an event, activity or service is a great way to seek feedback in an informal or formal manner.
Conduct spot quizzes or polls.
Ask students to verbally rate an event/activity or provide suggestions in order to receive a small incentive (free coffee, discount etc.).
Engage in ‘corridor conversations.’
Chat informally with individuals when you run into them in the hallway, in a communal area or whilst attending a function.
Actively seek quotes or ‘top 3 highlights or low lights.’
Conduct a mini SWOC analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, challenges).
Or a ‘what could be done better to improve this [insert event, activity, service]’ discussion one on one with staff.
Where resources and time permit, conduct focus groups.
Interview students with set questions or facilitate an open discussion in smaller groups.
Where you have the opportunity, those in nominated student leadership roles are a great group to approach.
They are more likely to feel comfortable providing candid feedback, particularly if you have an established relationship.
While it can be common to over-use documented forms of feedback, this method is still critical in aiding evaluation. This is particularly the case when it comes to surveying large groups, when resources are limited, or when qualitative data is essential. Options include:
Conduct online or paper based surveys (SurveyMonkey is a great option).
Offer online polls or rating scales (satisfaction or score based).
Strategically locate suggestion boxes.
Provide options to provide feedback via your website.
Send out event or service evaluations targeted at students who have participated in specific programs/used certain services.
Finally, one of the more creative methods of securing feedback is to take on more of a ground-level approach.
Attend the events or programs on offer, or use the services provided as a ‘participant’ rather than an organiser.
Experience first-hand what it might be like for your students.
Monitor social media sites and note how many likes or the level of readership.
Review how students have engaged either through tagging friends or making comments.
Compare notes with other providers.
See what events, activities or services have already been evaluated and have supporting feedback.
Go back in time to revisit past survey results and reports.
This may provide data and information to help guide future planning and opportunities for growth.
Check with other teams or areas for opportunities to collaborate.
Communicate with other staff to find out what surveys might already be on the go. Determine whether you have the ability to access relevant data already obtained or the possibility of adding or modifying questions that will be of value to you and your programs.
One final point – whatever method you choose, don’t forget to report your overall findings to those you first asked so that they can see the impact and value of their feedback.
What other creative ways do you seek student feedback, opinions, suggestions or commentary?