College Surveys from Scratch to Catch

This is a guest post by Laura Moisei of 123ContactForm.

Have you ever done a project that involved surveying groups of people? Yeah, most of us did. Social science surveys, language learning questionnaires, health surveys – their scenery is as diverse as student life is. An online college survey helps you gain a statistical perspective over any matter and get demographic data in a snap, which makes it an essential element of your college toolbox.

Even if in your school years you’ll surely be filling a lot more surveys for others than you’re going to carry on your own, survey making is a really worthy skill to have. The average survey is easy to build, fun to launch and by the time you get through it’s most likely that the greatest part of your school project is already done.

So you need to put up that online survey but you’re not sure how to do it? Read on and find out!

Who – Where – How

First things first: do a bit of research. The first step is to determine who you are targeting with your survey and which would be the best ways to reach them. Surveying hundreds of people of various ages in different on-campus locations may seem like a mammoth job, but with the help of online tools and social media things can get really easy.

One of my teachers used to say: “it takes some knowledge to ask a good question”. Make a sketch of what information you need from your respondents and only ask for relevant input that you’ll be sure to use. Keep it Short and Simple! Too many “nice to have” but non-essential questions will only clutter your survey and scary people away. The best survey is the one that asks for no more than 5 minutes to fill in.

Most college surveys start with the classical positioning questions: “What is your age?”, “What do you study?”. Further on, for collecting opinions over various topics you can use likert scales (“Please rate the following items”), single and multiple choice fields, closed and open questions. Try to minimize typing stress – use less fields that ask for people to write down their answer, and counterbalance with radio buttons or checkboxes that offer a range of options to choose from. Oh, and don’t forget to KISS! (as seen above)

Apps to get your survey rolling

The real fun starts once you’re actually building your survey. Choose a good online app that will help you design a nifty survey in just a few clicks, then share it across the web and collect all the data you need. Survey Monkey is the popular go-to name. 123ContactForm’s 3-steps wizard helps you create slick online surveys then view results in friendly reports. Question Pro, Zoomerang and Fluid Surveys are other apps worth trying.

What to look for in a survey building app? First of all, drag & drop design will make your life easy. Built-in CAPTCHA keeps spam away but also discourages submissions, so look for smart CAPTCHA that only activates when there is a sign of abuse over the form. Another great feature is the capacity of fine tuning your survey, such as to accept just a single submission per ip (for making sure nobody will make invalid double submissions). You will also need the ability to export your data easily to Excel format, PDF or custom graphical reports.

Get the word out and collect the goodies

When the survey is ready, all you need to do is send it over to be filled in. You can share the survey link on Twitter and Facebook, and post it to college groups with a warm invitation for people to submit. Sending the survey by email can lead to robust response rates, but be careful not to spam.

Don’t hesitate to repeat the message, and send the form link over multiple times. Sit back and watch as submissions flow to your inbox! Next, you’ll be making friends with the numbers, and use the app you’ve chosen for creating statistics and reports over the data you’ve collected. It’s a good thing to keep your account active, so that you can repeat the survey in time if you’ll need to, or return for creating more forms as you go.

Good luck!

About the Author: Laura Moisei is a web design enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She writes for 123ContactForm online form builder, a service that helps everybody create powerful forms and surveys in just a few clicks.

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