Activity
Setting the tone activities

Survey students early in the semester: Pre-Course Survey

Maha Bali

Maha Bali

Use a pre-course survey to get to know your students early on in the semester.

ACTIVITY PURPOSE

Get to know a little bit more about your students early on in the semester.

USEFUL FOR

Knowing students so you can better design your course to respond to student needs for the particular semester, rather than make general assumptions. You can use this to get to know demographic information, technology/infrastructure information, pre-knowledge of course topics, learning strategy preferences and any accommodations students may need.

PREPARATION

Writing the survey.

INSTRUCTIONS

Decide what you need to know about your students and how you might be able to modify things about your course or course structure or pedagogy to respond to these things. Examples of things you may want to know:

  1. Demographic information, including where they are located (e.g. if you have students on different timezones and you’re teaching online), their preferred pronouns; for graduate courses, it may help to know what kind of job experience they have, especially if you expect students to do some course work while applying it to their own context.
  2. Pre-knowledge about course topics, so that you can know whether to spend time revising material, or refer them to additional resources, or ask a Teaching Assistant to offer sessions. It can also save you time, if your students have a lot of background knowledge on something, you can choose to go faster and do more advanced activities. You can ask these questions in terms of familiarity with course concepts (e.g. “Very familiar, Somewhat familiar, Have heard of it, Have never heard of it”) or you can ask questions quiz-like (open ended or multiple choice).
  3. Technology infrastructure: this will help you decide whether you can use high-bandwidth pedagogies comfortably, and prevent you from assuming everyone has equal access to devices and connectivity. You can also ask about familiarity and comfort with tech tools you plan to use in your classes (e.g. Google docs, blogs, social media)
  4. Preferred learning strategies – if you have some flexibility in terms of how you will teach and what kind of assignments you will conduct, you can ask here. For example, you can ask students if they have a preferred tool for communication between classes (WhatsApp or Slack)
  5. Expectations, Goals & Feelings: You can also ask about their expectations of the course, their own goals, or how they respond to your own expectations and their feelings as the semester approaches (e.g. what are they most worried/excited about? Why did they take your course? How do they feel about cameras on/off?)
  6. Survey Quiz/Reaction: You can ask students some questions to check they understand what is on the syllabus, or you can get their feedback on what is on the syllabus. Though you could do this separately via an “annotate the syllabus” activity.
  7. How to say their name. If you would like, students can record the pronunciation of their name at Name Coach (free, and modifies the speaker’s voice but allows you to learn how to pronounce their names correctly), and post the link for you: https://cloud.name-coach.com/

DURATION

Depends on length of survey, but can be taken out of class time.

ADAPTATIONS AND EXAMPLES

This is probably not going to be an anonymous survey, but you can promise students confidentiality, that you will not share their personal information. You could do some of it as anonymous polling inside class, but not with very sensitive questions.

TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS

Any survey tool will do, Google forms (completely free), SurveyMonkey (free version has limitations), etc., or you can run it inside your Learning Management System (Virtual Learning Environment) if you prefer. Most, like Blackboard and Canvas, have survey tools. If you are unfamiliar with surveying tools or are asking mainly open-ended questions, students can email you their responses or write them in Google docs. You can also ask your teaching and learning centre for help, as they probably have templates and experience creating surveys.

USEFUL RESOURCES

Northwestern guidance from Kristina Wilson: HOW (AND WHY!) TO WRITE A PRE-COURSE SURVEY OR QUESTIONNAIRE 

Yale Poorvu Center Pre-course surveys

Sample pre-course surveys:

ABOUT

  • Educator prep: High
  • Student prep: None
  • Asynchronous
  • On-screen annotation, Polling tool
  • Duration: 5-30 mins

Do you have an activity that you would like to suggest?

Do you have feedback or suggestions?

More activities

Learning path

Community Building Online

Activity

Creativity Booster: 16 Squares

Activity

Creativity Booster: An Ode to the Other Hand

Activity

Creativity Booster: 5 Senses

Activity

Creativity Booster: Yes, Let’s!

Activity

Create a Fake Photo Group Assignment

Activity

What We Don’t Know About Each Other

Activity

Share Music and Create a Class Playlist

Activity

Would You Rather?

Activity

Creating Escape Room Experience For Students

Activity

I Wish My Students/Teacher Knew…

Activity

Using Metaphors to Express Thoughts

Activity

Using Dominoes in Teaching

Activity

Desert Island Songs

Activity

The Shape of You

Activity

Words From Your Names

Activity

What Can You Do With A…?

Activity

Choose a Plant

Activity

Which Picture Best?

Activity

Imaginary Buffet (or Potluck)

Activity

PowerPoint Karaoke

Activity

Office Hour Scheduling via Google Calendar

Activity

Tiny Tales

Activity

Cognitive/exam Wrappers for Metacognition

Activity

Self-assessment Tool (of social justice in your teaching) from DISCs (Disciplines Inquiring into Societal Challenges)

Activity

Language Portrait

Activity

Lost in Translation

Activity

Wheel of Life for Student Self-help

Activity

Alternative Approaches to Grading

Activity

Thick Greetings

Activity

Estimate workload

Activity

Simple Metacognitive Activities

Activity

Tiny Demons/Drawing Monsters

Activity

Start/Stop/Continue

Activity

Pass the Paper

Activity

Gratitude Journal

Activity

15% solutions

Checklist / tool

Karen Ray Costa’s Trauma-Aware Teaching Checklist

Article

Getting Feedback From Students Mid-Semester

Resource

Loglines

Activity

Appreciative Interviews

Activity

Pop-up Psychogeography Journey Journal

Guide

Some Safety Considerations for Online Community Building

Activity

While We Wait

Activity

What kind of animal are you?

Activity

Two by Three by Bradford

Activity

Troika Consulting – Adaptation for Class Community Building

Activity

TRIZ

Video discussion

Trauma-Informed Pedagogy & How is Your Heart?

Activity

Tour of Where You Are

Activity

Third Places for Ongoing Community Building

Activity

Theater of the Oppressed: Opposites

Activity

Theatre of the Oppressed: Image Theatre

Activity

Teaching Ethics with Theatre of the Oppressed and Liberating Structures

Activity

Surrealist Free Drawing Introductions

Activity

Studio visits

Activity

Structured Dialogues

Activity

Share an object from home

Activity

Room 101

Activity

Purpose to Practice

Activity

Pass the Ball & How Do You Make Rice?

Activity

Meditation

Activity

Wild Tea / Mad Tea

Activity

Introductions: Story of Your Name

Activity

Human Scavenger Hunt

Activity

Four Ideas for Checking In

Activity

Daily Creates

Activity

Critical Uncertainties

Activity

Conversation Cafe

Activity

Collaborative Storytelling

Activity

Collaborative Literature Review Matrix

Activity

Authentic Open Letter/Video Addressing Students

Activity

Asynchronous & Synchronous Introductions

Activity

9 Whys of Liberating Structures

Activity

Spiral Journal

Activity

Annotate the Syllabus

0
Share your thoughts, leave a commentx
()
x
Setting the tone activities

Survey students early in the semester: Pre-Course Survey

Setting the tone activities

Survey students early in the semester: Pre-Course Survey