I started to do questionnaires and surveys to assess my teaching methods and the learning gain of my students. How to convince the students to participate in these surveys? Is it OK to give small course credits for taking these surveys (say 1%)? otherwise, what are the incentive for the students to take these survey?
I think that giving some small course credit for a survey like that can be a good idea. Taking the IRB protocols as a model, you might give course credit for the survey, and also some alternate assignment for a student who has some point of principle that makes them not want to disclose personal info like that. Then you've really covered your bases.
In my own case, I give a study survey like that after the first exam. Since this happens to be in sequence and in the same format as three earlier quizzes, I think many students assume that it's for credit and complete it without me saying one way or the other (it's not, and has a different title, but it serendipitously works in my favor that way).
I am at a program at a public university in the US where we often ask students to fill out these kinds of surveys. To get the broadest participation, it is customary to either make the surveys worth a small amount of credit (especially if the class has a "participation" category in grading) or give a bit of extra credit, say 1-2% on the final exam. Personally, I prefer the latter.
Of course, this credit should be awarded regardless of what the student says. Do you use course management software? My university uses a custom version of Moodle, which includes a Questionnaire module. You can set this up to automatically award participation points with no connection to what the student said. Other course management software may have similar functions. You can also use SurveyMonkey and download a list of responders.
At my university, there are standardized surveys for this kind of thing that are run by the student association. They contain both general satisfaction grades (on a scale from 1 to 6) in different categories (quality of lecture, use of media, ...), and a free-text field for written feedback. The survey is filled out on paper and then returned to the student association, who does the analysis. This is done by default in every course of our department.
The aggregate results of the satisfaction survey are made public for everyone to see, and a more detailed report is sent to the lecturer.
The survey is filled out during one of the last lectures, where we usually reserve a 10-minute timeslot in the beginning for this. We usually get close to 100% participation, for a number of reasons:
- Culture. This is normal at our institution, so no one questions it.
- Trust. It is run by the students themselves, so no one thinks "oh no, I can't write anything negative, what the professor recognizes me?". This is also helped by the fact that many of our lectures have 50+ and some have 200+ students in them.
- Transparency. 1. and 2. are hard to emulate at your university, but if you promise to release the aggregate results, it may drive participation, as this helps other students decide if they want to take a course (I have decided both for and against attending a number of courses based on the evaluation results I saw from previous years).
- Feedback. Some of our faculty also take the time to respond to the feedback in the last lecture (if the results are delivered in time) or in a course-wide eMail (if the results are provided late). There, they answer common questions, give justifications for specific decisions that were criticised, and commit to specific improvements that were pointed out. This shows the students that their concerns are really taken seriously, and that their answers aren't just ignored without reading. Extra credit if you start off the next iteration of the lecture with "based on previous feedback, we have decided to change X."
So, while 1. and 2. will be infeasible for you, maybe providing Transparency and Feedback for the students (and committing to this before you have them fill out the forms) would drive participation, regardless of extra exam credit.
Also, if you like taking the hard route, you could try to get your student association / any organized student body to organize these feedback things for all lectures in the department or even the whole university. This will obviously be a non-trivial change and may take more time than you are willing to invest, but would probably be an improvement that all students would be thankful for.
I would just choose 1 day at an appropriate time in the semester and give everyone in the class a survey sheet when they come in. You don't need to even say much, maybe even just "take a feedback questionnaire" or "here's a survey sheet" or something.
Have no place on there for their names, the surveys should be anonymous.
When most students have come in and sat down, and you are ready to start the class, start your class by mentioning the survey sheet and ask them to complete it during the class and place the form in the box on their way out at the end of the class.
You don't need to mention it again, and you don't even need to check and ask people at the end of the class. If people don't complete it and don't put it in the box, then it's fine.
Most people will have completed it and will put it in the box on their own at the end.
Any more pressure than that and you will get sheets from people with the opposite of the information they want to give, their way of countering the pressure of being forced to submit the form: "Ok, you're forcing me to submit the form? Then I'll choose all the worst choices so it will skew your data the other way"
I'm going to go the other way, and say this is a bad idea.
If you were trying to do research with the survey, rather than just evaluation, the answer would be an absolute 'no'.
A problem I see with this even for this purpose is that to allocate marks you need to record who has submitted the survey (and if you don't want to reward blank/stupid submissions, also who submitted which one). That is not a good method for getting the students to say what they really think (although it might reduce the number of deliberately inappropriate comments).