What Students Want: Surveying Students for Campus Activities Feedback

Getting Student Feedback: How to Plan Events that Students Will Love

As a student activities board member, you put a lot of effort into event planning. After all, coming up with fun, engaging, and memorable events is a big part of what the student activities board is tasked with doing. Some events take months of careful planning, and others require investing a big chunk of your annual operating budget.

When a campus event is a big success, though, all of the money and effort involved is worth it. Seeing happy students having a great time is a huge payoff.

But what about those events that don’t go so well? We’ve all been there. You put in weeks (maybe even months) of careful planning. You show up hours early to set things up. And midway through the event, you see the crowd start to thin out. By the end of the event, virtually everyone is gone. Meanwhile, you’re left wondering: what went wrong here? Why didn’t students enjoy something that you thought they’d love?

At the end of the day, it’s impossible for every event to be a huge success. At the same time, though, you want to do everything you can to ensure that your events are as successful as they can be. And while going on prior experience is a good strategy, there’s an even better one that you can put into action. Simply put: ask students what they liked, what they didn’t, and what they want to see in future programming.

How do you do that? Why, with a survey, of course. But how do you conduct effective surveys? That’s another question entirely. Let’s take a look at what makes for a successful student body survey, and how you can use surveys to plan future events.

What Makes for an Effective Survey?

First off, it’s important to understand that not all surveys are created equal. A good survey will ask the right questions and get you the data that you need. A bad survey will ask leading questions, or even questions that students find confusing and give answers to that they don’t actually mean or didn’t intend.

A good survey will have clearly defined goals. Without solid goals, you won’t know where to start from. So, begin by asking yourself: what do I want to achieve with this survey? Are we looking to give the student activities board a better sense of how students felt about a recent program? Or are we looking for ideas for new events? Consider that you could put together any of the following types of student surveys:

  • Post-event survey: asking students what they liked and didn’t like about an event
  • End of year survey: finding out about students’ favorite events from throughout the year
  • Beginning of the year survey: asking students what kinds of events they’d like to see throughout the year

These are just a few examples. But once you know exactly what information you’re looking to get, you can move on to coming up with questions.

What Questions Should We Ask?

When it comes to designing survey questions, keep things short and simple. The longer and more complex a question is, the greater the risk that the students taking it will misunderstand it and answer inappropriately -- or even just skip the question altogether. It can be a good idea to show your survey questions to a few students and get feedback on whether or not they’re clear before sending the survey out to the student body at large.

How Long Should the Survey Be?

Simply put, the shorter the better. The longer your survey is, the less likely students are to actually complete it. Aim for a survey that takes less than 5 minutes for students to complete.

How Do We Create and Send Out the Survey?

When it comes to actually creating a survey and getting students to take it, you have a few options.

Generally speaking, online surveys are going to be your best bet. These are easy for students to take and easy for you to create. Plus, they make analyzing data a simple task (especially if you ask “on a scale of 1 to 5” or “yes/no” type questions). SurveyMonkey is an intuitive and easy to use online survey service that will allow you to quickly create a custom survey and make it available online.

But how do you actually get students to take your survey? If the student activities board has a solid Facebook presence (which it should!), you can use Facebook to promote your survey. If there was a corresponding Facebook event for a recent campus activities event, posting on the the Facebook page is an easy way to reach attendees with a post-event survey. Depending on your school’s policies, you may also be able to send out an email to the entire student body with your survey. This can be especially helpful when trying to find out what sorts of events the student body at large wants to see.

Above all, though, we highly recommend offering some kind of reward as an incentive for survey completion. You want to get as wide of a sample of the student body as possible, and offering an incentive is one of the best ways to get students to actually take your survey. It doesn’t have to be huge -- it can be a gift card to the campus coffee shop or a local pizza place, for example. But offering something will go a long way towards getting people to actually take your survey.

Put the Data to Work 

Congrats! You’ve conducted your first student body survey. Now, it’s time to put the data to work.

Use the information you’ve gathered to make informed decisions about future events. Do students want to see more comedians on campus? Great: now you can start looking for a comedian for next semester. Are students interested in more singer-songwriter coffeehouse nights? Good to know! Now you can book those kinds of artists for concert events.

When it comes to booking entertainment for upcoming events, why not make things easy on yourself? ArtistHub connects student activities boards with talented entertainers, including college speakers, comedians, magicians, musicians, and more. Browse our index of entertainers, check out reviews from other students, and book your entertainment via our website. Best of all, the service is free! Sign up today to get started.