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8 student survey questions to gather valuable feedback

Last updated

13 January 2024


Dovetail Editorial Team

Asking your students to fill out surveys can provide you with a lot of useful information about what they think of your class and your teaching. You can use this to make improvements to future classes or adjust your teaching methods to better meet their needs.

Here are some of the most important things to know about creating quality surveys and using the information you obtain from them.

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What are the different types of student surveys? 

The best student surveys typically include questions about a range of topics. You can use a more specialized option if you’re gathering information about a specific area.

Some common types of student surveys are:

  • Satisfaction surveys

  • Engagement surveys

  • Motivation surveys

  • Overall feedback surveys

How to choose what questions to ask in a student survey 

While certain general questions should be included in most student surveys, others should be chosen with your specific class in mind.

Thorough surveys should ask plenty of questions about:

  • What students thought of your course material and teaching methods

  • How much effort they put into homework and studying

  • What concepts or lessons they found interesting, uninteresting, easy, or difficult

  • What they would like to see done differently.

Quality surveys address not only general topics that could apply to any class but also areas specific to the material taught in each course and subject.

Student survey questions for academic feedback 

Asking the right questions is key to ensuring the information you obtain from your surveys is as valuable as possible. Comments that are too general do not give you ideas for specific actions to improve your teaching and your students' performance. Focusing on particular questions gives you more specific information to draw from when finding ways to improve.

Some of the most important questions may be specific to your curricular area, but others can benefit most teachers in some way.

Here are a few of the most important questions to consider including in your student surveys to help you compile the best feedback!

Rank this year's lessons from easiest to hardest 

Even seasoned teachers should be searching for ways to adjust specific lessons to improve performance from year to year. Understanding what concepts your students struggled with or found easy to understand will help you identify specific areas in which you should spend more or less time in the future.

While your students likely have a variety of natural strengths and weaknesses that may impact how they feel about each of your lessons on an individual level, creating a list of topics that many students identify as especially difficult can be a helpful starting point for determining which lessons to give more attention to next year.

You may find you underestimated the time to spend on certain lessons about notoriously difficult topics. If you discover students are finding easy concepts difficult, you may not have taught these topics as clearly as you thought.

Spending less time on concepts that many students understood more easily than you expected can free up time to be reallocated to more challenging lessons. This can significantly boost the average amount your students learn in your limited amount of instruction time. 

How much time do you spend on homework every night? 

The quality of your teaching does not always correlate with the amount of effort your students put in. Determining how the balance between your teaching and your students' home-studying impacts their performance can provide insights into where you can personally benefit from improvement and where your students' performance is beyond your control.

Many students underestimate the amount of time they should spend on each course to thoroughly understand the material. Others know they should be studying more but struggle to find enough time or simply choose not to. Other students may not perform at the level you expect, despite putting in an amount of effort adequate for most students.

These insights can help you make recommendations for those students who might benefit from extra help next year. Knowing how long each student spends on homework can be useful if a grade is questioned. This knowledge can be used as evidence that a particular student's performance is not a reflection of your teaching.

Which classroom activities do you learn from the most? 

Not every activity will go as well as you expect. Determining which ones your students got the most out of can help you identify the best formats to focus on next year.

The most engaging activities are often the most enjoyable and also result in the highest levels of learning and retention. Discovering which activities your students prefer can help you create more enjoyable and impactful lessons.

Asking your students which activities were less beneficial to them can help you work out what to eliminate and free up time for activities your students will learn more from.

This question can also help you determine how many students prefer individual independent learning, lecture-format classes, or small group activities. You can use this feedback to redesign some lessons to a format that better matches your students' learning styles.

As classes are made up of diverse students with a variety of learning styles, it would be impossible to perfectly match every student's preference every time. However, knowing where your class's average learning styles fall can help you determine which instruction methods would benefit the majority of students.

What three things could improve this class the most? 

You may already have plans for how to use the information you gather from specific survey questions to make changes to your future instruction. Your students probably have their ideas about how they could get more out of your class—ideas you may not have thought of.

Including this kind of open-ended question at the end of the survey allows students to share their thoughts about specific changes that are not relevant to the other questions you asked. This can give you even more ideas for adjusting your instruction to reach your students better next year.

Although you do not have to ask for a specific number of suggestions, doing so encourages your students to think deeper about how they would personally learn better and connect more with course material. While this may be one of the questions most likely to result in some joke answers, the students who take it seriously may provide invaluable information about what current students are looking for.

Rate your teacher. What could they do better? 

Your students' performance is not usually a perfect reflection of your teaching because their strengths and effort also factor into the equation. However, you should always be striving to improve your teaching and your ability to connect with your students.

Being intentional about asking your students what they thought of your teaching and specific ways you can improve may not be easy, but the information can be invaluable for turning good teaching into outstanding instruction. You may even earn a spot as one of the few teachers your students will always remember.

Teachers who truly connect with their students may not always teach the most exciting content. Nonetheless, finding unique ways to make concepts interesting and relatable can go a long way toward engaging your students and raising their estimation of you. 

What are your proudest achievements this year? 

This question allows your students to reflect on what they have learned and how their new skills can benefit them in future classes and the real world. It can help them consider how much more capable they are now than a few months ago. Instead of dwelling on day-to-day frustrations of finding time to get things done and not noticing short-term progress, they will take a bird’s eye view and see how your class has benefited them.

Students who take the time to think critically about their accomplishments, such as handling more challenging concepts or earning higher grades as a result of studying more, will realize they are more capable than they thought. This can increase their motivation and interest in future classes, significantly improving their future opportunities.

What advice would you give to students in next year's class? 

Your view of how your students should approach your course does not always align with theirs. If future students hear from past students about how they tackled elements of the course, it can help them take your class more seriously and decide how to approach the material.

Every teacher considers their class to be among the most important. Hearing similar information from every teacher may cause students to tune out solid advice. Hearing it from past students may help it to stick.

Students may point out they needed to study more than they expected. They could let future students know you’re serious about something you say every week. Maybe they identify specific projects that future students should expect to spend a significant amount of time on.

Hearing this key information from recent students early on in the academic year can help your students bear in mind the most important steps to success.

What do you want to learn next? 

You may not be responsible for what your students learn next year. However, learning about your students' strongest course-related interests can help you determine whether your lessons are encouraging them to think critically about course material and whether everything fits together as well as you hoped.

You may be teaching the next course that your students will be progressing to next year. If so, you can use the information they provide about the topics they’re most interested in to plan that course. While you may not be able to incorporate every idea they suggest, fitting in as many indicated topics as possible can help keep their interest in future classes.


What is the objective of a student survey? 

Student surveys provide teachers with a range of information about what students think about a course. This information can be used to improve future classes and better understand student performance.

How do you introduce a student survey?

 Making sure your students understand what you’re hoping to get out of their answers can encourage them to provide more thoughtful answers than simply seeing it as another boring assignment. In the survey introduction, explain you’re hoping to better understand their thoughts about your class and make improvements for future students.

What are the benefits of student surveys?

Student surveys provide a wide range of information that can be used to improve future courses and make them better align with students' preferences. They can also tell you what students thought about your class and how their performance was impacted by the balance between your teaching and their personal effort.

Should student surveys be anonymous?

can help you get the most honest information, but this is not an option if you’re looking for individual students' thoughts. Considering what you’d like to do with your survey results is an important step in deciding whether or not to keep them anonymous.

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