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Wanna Take a Survey? Exploring Tools to Increase Undergraduate Student Response Rates to Real-Time Experience Surveys

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Methodological & Theoretical Contributions to Engineering Education 2

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1365.1 - 24.1365.12



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Paper Authors

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Danielle Almetria Smalls Engineering Education Department at Virginia Tech


Holly M. Matusovich Virginia Tech

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Dr. Holly Matusovich (co-PI) is an Assistant Professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Engineering Education. She has her doctorate in Engineering Education and her strengths include qualitative and mixed methods research study design and implementation. Her expertise includes motivation and related frameworks, using these frameworks broadly to study student engagement in learning, student recruitment into and retention within engineering programs and careers, faculty teaching practices and intersections of motivation and learning strategies.

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Rachel McCord Ellestad University of Tennessee, Knoxville Orcid 16x16

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Wanna Take a Survey? Exploring Tools to Increase Undergraduate Student Response Rates to Real-Time Experience SurveysStudents, particularly in higher education, are constantly bombarded with surveys imploring theiropinions on specific issues. Previous studies have shown that they feel little need to answer thesesurveys because of the thought that another student will answer in their place. This in turn,results in low response rates. Consequently, low survey response rates are a pervasive problem inresearch on undergraduate students. This study aims to address this problem by finding the bestmethod of survey data collection that satisfies the needs of the researcher while grabbing theattention of the student.In particular, this study focuses on discovering the most effective method for collecting dataabout student’s experiences learning engineering in real-time. Real-time data collection for thisstudy is described as gathering information about learning experiences within the context of thecurrent situation. Capturing data in the moment helps to eliminate possible memory loss withregard to experiences and also clarifies the context of the question and answer. With emphasis ongathering data in real-time, this study compares the data collection tools from popular socialmedia, institutional, and traditional online survey software. We address the research question:What real-time data collection tools are most likely to be successful with undergraduateengineering students and why? Also called, experience sampling methods, real-time datacollection is situated within the motivation framework of Flow.The data for our study come from focus groups with undergraduate students. We used semi-structured questions to gather information about a series of proposed survey tools includingsocial media such as Facebook and Twitter, standard survey software such as Qualtrics, andclassroom technologies such as clickers or interactive software. Focus groups were recorded,transcribed ver batim and coded looking for patterns in preferences and underlying reasons forthese preferences.The outcomes from this study include ways of prompting students to take the surveys (impetus)and suggestions for the format of the survey to increase response rates. Surprisingly we foundthat students suggested pen and paper as a top choice over electronic methods, even though thisapproach was not among our suggested options. These outcomes can help researchers developeffective strategies for real-time data collection.

Smalls, D. A., & Matusovich, H. M., & Ellestad, R. M. (2014, June), Wanna Take a Survey? Exploring Tools to Increase Undergraduate Student Response Rates to Real-Time Experience Surveys Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23298

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