Practices for Student Surveys of Courses  

Instructor Preparation

  • Familiarize yourself with the Mount Allison survey form, the Collective Agreements between the University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association and this policy.
  • Read support materials made available by the Senate Teaching and Learning Committee, the Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre (PCTC), and the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research.
  • Browse through the question bank.
  • Prepare your students by telling them when the survey will be made available.

Constructing the Survey

Students should be provided with the opportunity to communicate insights from their experiences in courses. They may choose not to share these insights through the survey, and no academic penalty will arise from a reluctance to participate in the survey. Participation or non-participation in the survey will not have any impact on course grades. Survey participation should be confidential: to the extent possible, the survey form and process should be designed such that the responses of any individual student are not identifiable.


Instructors should choose carefully between conducting the survey using paper forms and making the survey available to students to complete on-line. The medium of the survey — on paper forms or on-line — should be chosen by the instructor of the course, giving due consideration to issues such as completion rates, timeliness, usefulness of results, and confidentiality.


The structure of the survey will be such that

  1. The initial core set of questions will be drawn from Appendix B of the Full-time Collective Agreement between the University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association.
  2. An additional set of questions may be chosen by the instructor. The questions for this section may be created by the instructor, or selected from an institutional question bank, or may be a combination of selected and created questions. An instructor may choose not to add questions in the second set of questions. If there are tutorials or a laboratory component connected with the course, it is strongly encouraged that there be questions added in this second section to permit students to communicate their experiences with these components of the course. Instructors are also encouraged to consider the addition of questions strongly recommended by the Mount Allison Student Union (MASU) and by the Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre (PCTC) for teaching award nominations.
  3. The concluding set of questions will include two open-ended questions, which elicit written (paper form) or typed (on-line) responses, and questions about student characteristics deemed relevant to the survey.

 The university will develop and maintain a process to count the responses and make available the results to the instructors.

Conducting On-Line Surveys

Surveys should usually be conducted within the last two weeks of classes. The timing of the survey — during or outside of scheduled class time — should be chosen by the instructor of the course, giving due consideration to issues such as completion rates, timeliness, usefulness of results, and confidentiality. Instructors should ensure that the surveys are available for a period of sufficient length as to allow for their completion. The period when the survey questions will be accessible to students should be indicated in the course outline and/or announced at the start of the term and should be announced again to the class near to the beginning of the survey period.


Student Survey Results

Student survey responses should be anonymous. Only an instructor may make available, for the purpose specified by that instructor, the anonymized results of surveys conducted in one of his/her courses; administrators should not provide access, otherwise. One such purpose is for institutional decisions such as promotion and tenure and for teaching award nominations. Prevailing laws, regulations, policies, and provisions of collective agreements governing privacy and confidentiality should be respected.


Generally, only after final grades have been submitted will student survey results from a course be made available to the instructor of that course. Student survey results will not be distributed to anyone other than the instructor without the permission of the instructor.


Once results become available they should be retrieved as soon as possible by the instructor of the course. In the case of paper surveys, the forms should be returned to the instructor. In the case of on-line surveys, the results should be deleted from the server. Student survey data stored on any University-administered system shall be deleted no later than January 31 for data collected during the Fall Term, May 31 for data collected during the Winter Term, and July 31 for data collected during the Spring/Summer Term.