AOI | Learning Innovations

Faculty Insider

Weekly Tip: Survey Students to Better Understand your “Audience”

Now that the Fall 2021 semester has started, let us take a moment and acknowledge the challenges faced and overcome by faculty and students alike. Mastering a new LMS (Learning Management System) and adapting to being back on campus has proven challenging for many. One way we can help our students make this transition is to really listen to who they are as learners and as people. A pragmatic way to learn as much as possible about your students is with a survey. Surveying and utilizing the results is one of many ways to show that you care about their overall well-being and that you want them to be successful.

At the beginning of the semester, survey your students to help identify what learning spaces (i.e., where they will be studying and completing work) they have access to. Identify any potential issues (or benefits) you may encounter while delivering content to students regardless of delivery method. Ask questions about their interests in the course subject and why they are taking the course.

Start by Asking Yourself:

  • What does a successful student look like in this course?
  • Will all students have comprehensive access to all necessary technical requirements to be successful students?
  • Are students able to engage in the class without distraction and on a regular basis?
  • Do I have flexibility designed into the course for exceptional circumstances and accommodation?

Knowing your students and their capabilities in their learning environment will allow you to define expectations for them and to accommodate any special considerations.

Survey Tools

Use one of these dynamic WSU supported tools to create your survey. This is a wonderful way to gain beneficial information from your students and will help you understand their learning environment. Additionally, it is an excellent method of inquiring about students’ interests (academically and professionally).

Sample Questions

Below, there are sample questions that you can copy/paste into your survey.

  • What name do you go by if it is different than what is listed for the class?
  • What is your previous knowledge level of [course topic]?
  • What are you hoping to learn from this class? List your top two choices.
  • Name some things past instructors have done that help you enjoy learning.
  • Which activities do you learn from the most?
  • What questions do you have about the class?
  • Select your class standing: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior
  • What is your primary major?
  • What time zone are you in?
  • What else would you like me to know about you and how you learn best?
  • What would you like to know about me?

After the Survey

Once you review the survey data, identify any potential issues, and use an announcement to address them without pointing out specific students. Be sure to send resources to students that can help resolve some issues such as the Computer Loan Program.


Each semester brings in new students (new audience). Knowing your students will allow you to spend more time on topics that cater to what they are most interested in. Survey results can also be used to form groups of students who may work well together.


This series of videos and teaching tips is presented by Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). We invite you to join the conversation. Share your tips and ask questions through this blog. If you would like these posts to be sent directly to your email each week, subscribe to the listserv by emailing

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact or request training on demand. You can also visit the Spark Faculty Innovation Studio in room 102 any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, during the academic year.