Conducting a pre-course survey

Have you ever wished that you knew a little more about your students?  Or hoped that students might take a moment to review materials needed to get started in your course before your course begins? 

If so, a pre-course survey may be just the way to get started in your remote or online course. More about survey softwares available at SFU

Learning about your students: What do you want to know about them?

A survey can help you conduct a needs assessment about where your students are at in terms of prior knowledge, mindset, learning preferences and which tools are available to them.  For example you could ask them about their preferred learning activities:

Please rank each learning activity in order of your preference, where '1' is your preferred way to learn and '4' is your least preferred way to learn: group work, lectures, reading assignments, student presentations. 

Or you could do an open-ended question such as, "where does this course fit in your academic journey?"

Helping your students review information they need before the course starts?

Giving your students an opportunity to quiz themselves about how to get started in the course, how to navigate the course, and course expectations can help them get orientated and you clarify any misconceptions.

Below are some questions that could help you get started:

I understand how to participate in all course activities. Yes Somewhat No
I understand how to submit assessments (i.e. assignments, tests, essays) for grading. Yes Somewhat No

I think the course syllabus, including information about due dates, assessments, or course navigation, is clear and well organized.

Yes Somewhat No
I understand where to find the information I was looking for about the course. Yes Somewhat No


What strategies can help your students learn?

Giving students an opportunity to reflect early on learning strategies through a pre-course survey can help set the stage for success.  Below are some open-ended sample questions.

What are some strategies that you can use in this course to learn?
What could your instructor(s) or TA(s) do to improve or better support your learning experience this semester?
Please describe any online teaching strategies you find particularly useful (give enough detail that a teacher could adopt the strategy).