It’s not just a matter of asking, “How are you doing?”. It’s more than that. You can make a positive impact on your students’ well-being.
Around the world, students are sitting at home, waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic. Some might prefer online learning to the live classes they took on campus just a few weeks ago. Others might be anxious, wondering when they’ll have the chance to step back into the classroom and see their professors and fellow students again. But one thing’s for sure: Every student is in a different place emotionally, and it’s up to colleges and universities to find out how their students are doing by providing them with the support they need.
To help out, we’re providing two ready-to-send surveys to monitor student sentiment.
“With so many students, it’s difficult to talk to each one individually to understand how they’re feeling during a crisis,” said Marissa Keech, Conversational UX Designer & Researcher at AdmitHub. “By working with an AI chatbot, you can periodically send out quick surveys like these to find out where each student is emotionally, support them appropriately, and show them that you value them as part of the university community.”
Survey #1: Student Experience Check-In
We created the Student Experience Check-In survey to help institutions reach out to their students who are now learning from home. The script consists of two questions that ask students to describe their remote learning experience, with an optional third question that can help uncover a student’s specific needs.
These questions can be tailored to include language and branding specific to your institution. However, keep in mind that the way questions are asked will often impact the way they’re answered, or if they’re answered at all. Students are more likely to respond if they feel their feedback and input is valued.
You can demonstrate value by acknowledging a student’s response with a “Thanks!” or something similar before moving on to the next question. You should also explore fun and interesting ways to word your questions to increase student engagement.
Question 1 (5-point Likert scale)
How are you feeling about your semester working from home?
- Just okay
- Not good
If there were one thing you wanted help with right now, what would it be?
- Taking classes online
- Staying focused
- Housing & Food
- Staying Healthy
Question 3 (Open Response – Optional)
Can you share some details about what you’d like help with?
The team at California State University Channel Islands sent a version of this survey to their students, with additional messages based on the students’ responses. They were able to identify students who needed extra help transitioning to online learning, and direct students to helpful resources such as their 24/7 counseling service. They also noticed that students who indicated that they felt “Alright” about their semester working from home seemed to often ask for a joke or two!
“The students seem to enjoy the corny jokes,” said Tara Hughes, Interim Assistant Director for Strategic Communications at CSU Channel Islands.
Some students were just sad or upset, so the chatbot shared a link to an article about collective grief in this moment and how it’s okay to be sad. Hughes said they’ll be using this data to “provide a better lens to see and understand how our students are doing.”
“Our chatbot is generating data that isn’t available anywhere else and we can leverage that data to make decisions moving forward across the university.”Tara Hughes, Interim Assistant Director for Strategic Communications, CSU Channel Islands
Survey #2: Emoji Check-In
We designed the Emoji Check-In Script to take a quick student sentiment ‘snapshot’. The script consists of one Likert scale question and an optional open-ended question.
Question 1 (5-point Likert scale)
Which of these emojis best describes how you feel about college right now?
- Happy 😁
- Contented 😊
- Neutral 😐
- Nervous / Unhappy 😰
- Mad 😡
Question 2 (Open Response – Optional)
Can you tell me more about why you’re feeling this way?
How to Analyze the Data
5-point scale questions: Analyze student responses to find the measurement for each point on the scale. For example, “10/100 (10%) of students reported feeling ‘Great’ or ‘Neutral.'”
You could also do a high-level analysis by breaking the 5-point scale into sentiment buckets. Doing so will result in an overview on student sentiment. Buckets could include: [1-2] Positive  Neutral [4-5] Negative.
For each sentiment bucket and each point on the scale in Survey #1, you can also analyze which topics students need help with. For example, “For our positive bucket, 10% of students need help with ‘Staying Focused,’ or “For students who reported feeling ‘Great,’ 10% wanted help with ‘Staying Healthy,’ and 20% wanted help with ‘Housing & Food.’”
Open-ended questions: Responses should be analyzed in context to the Likert-scale measurement or sentiment bucket they were attached to. For example, “Of the 40% of students who reported feeling neutral about their learning from home experience, common themes from responses to the open-ended question were: x, y and z.” Or, “For students in the positive bucket, 10% selected ‘Other’ as what they needed help with. Among their responses, common themes were: x, y, and z.”
NOTE: “These scripts can be used either cross-sectionally, sent just once, or longitudinally, sent more than once over a period of time. It depends on the individual institution’s goals,” said Keech. “Used cross-sectionally, it provides a wonderful snapshot at how students are feeling at any given moment. Used longitudinally, it captures changes in student sentiment on an emotional range over a certain period of time.”
Keep the Journey Going
In addition to surveys, some schools are finding fun ways to boost students’ spirits remotely and keep up a sense of community. For example, CSU Channel Islands asked students for song suggestions to add to their Spotify playlist! This particular student has a great sense of humor 😉
Even if students aren’t physically in the classroom, it’s important that they continue moving forward in their college journey.
It’s easy to feel disconnected right now. It’s up to universities to find out how their students are doing, and then take action to keep them engaged and motivated.
These surveys are curated for AdmitHub’s AI-powered chatbot via text, but could be reformatted for email or used as a Google Survey. Just remember that students are more likely to respond and engage via text. And without survey-building capabilities or AI-powered two-way texting, it may be more difficult to extract actionable insights based on student responses.
If you’d like more information or guidance on how you can support students through a time of crisis, request a demonstration and we’ll reach out to schedule a call!