A Pilot Study Of Factors Influencing Student Response Rates To Online Course Surveys.

Huntley-Moore, Sylvia and Murray, Amy (2013) A Pilot Study Of Factors Influencing Student Response Rates To Online Course Surveys. In: 14th Healthcare Interdisciplinary Conference, Trinity College Dublin.


Background: Student surveys have long been integral to evaluation of teaching and courses in
higher education. Hard copy questionnaires are increasingly superseded by online versions. In one
Irish university, declining student response rates have been noted since the introduction of online
surveys in 2011. This trend is consistent with international evidence that students are less likely to
respond to online surveys. Research into reasons for this has been limited and results unclear.
Aim: To investigate factors that may influence students' decisions to respond to online course
surveys to identify ways of increasing response rates.
Objectives: To identify demographic features of students who do and do not respond to online
course surveys;
To explore student attitudes to online course surveys;
To assess what can be learned from student engagement in the evaluation process. Method: A
quantitative descriptive cross-sectional survey design was employed. A self report anonymous
questionnaire was designed and hard copies administered during class to a purposive convenience
sample of third year undergraduate nursing students (n=39). Data was entered manually into
SurveyMonkey. A report was produced describing the study variables and identifying correlations.
Ethical approval: Granted prior to study commencing.
Findings: 52% frequently respond to online course surveys for various reasons e.g. to provide
constructive feedback or indicate extent of satisfaction with the course, whereas students who
rarely respond, do so only when dissatisfied with a course. They also expressed far less confidence
that their feedback would be reviewed by lecturers and acted upon. Relevance of questions and
survey design were of high importance. Respondent anonymity and confidentiality were of less
importance. Respondents aged 25+ want to know how lecturers use their feedback. Respondents aged < 25 years more concerned with timing of surveys.
Conclusions: Findings from this pilot provide a useful starting point for identification of factors
influencing student response rates to online surveys. Sample size and method mean that care
should be taken in generalising findings however plans are in place to administer the questionnaire
in other academic departments as well as conducting a follow-up focus group with nursing students.

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