Getting to Know Students in the First Week with a Survey

A survey template.

remote teaching
for professors

September 16, 2020

When I used to work in small liberal arts colleges I used to ask each student to come to my office hours for five minutes during the first week of classes. Back then I used to teach maximum 25 students. Now I am at a bigger institution and teach hundreds of students. I always survey my students because they are more willing to share more in written format than oral format. Now that I teach bigger classes, this survey has become more important than before. In this post, I will share questions from what I call “All About You” survey that I assign to my students in the first week of classes. In this post the word we refers to my teaching team with TAs and readers included.

Questions and Comments

What is your preferred name?

Students may use a different name than what you see on the roster for various reasons. Knowing their preferred name is not only important because you would want to refer to them but even if you are teaching a large class and do not get to refer to your students by name, you may still need this for taking attendance on zoom, checking assignments etc.

What is your preferred pronoun that we can use for you in this class publicly?

  • she/her/hers
  • he/him/his
  • they/them/theirs
  • other

It is important for us not to misgender students.

I will PRIMARILY connect to this class with a

  • desktop
  • laptop
  • tablet
  • cell phone
  • some other device

This question helps me see if certain students might have specific accesibility issues based on their device.

Have you used Gradescope before?

  • yes
  • no

If you are planning to use any part of this survey for your students, you can edit this question to any other tool that you may be using. For every student we make sure they can access and are comfortable with the interface of the tools we use.

Have you taken a statistics course before? If yes, which course and when was that? If not, just write no.

Do you know any programming languages? If yes, then write the language(s). If no, then write no.

These questions give me some information about where students are coming from.

What excites me about this course is _____________.

This question helps me understand if students are excited for the right reasons and their responses also get me excited about teaching them.

My biggest concern about this course is _____________________.

This question gives us an opportunity to refer students to resources that can eliminate some of their concerns (e.g. lack of confidence in prerequisite knowledge). Sometimes we spot concerns that are not relevant to the course so we try to calm the student for their concern.

My biggest concern about this quarter is __________________.

This question gives me an idea about the overall challenges that the students may be having.

What is the difference between your time zone and Pacific Time? For instance if you are in Istanbul, Turkey then you are 10 hours ahead. Then you should write +10. If you are in Honolulu, Hawaii then you are 3 hours behind then enter -3. If you are in Pacific Time then enter 0.

The answers to this question is used for course logistics.

Please add anything you would like your professor, TA, or reader to know. We are so excited to be teaching you and would like to get to know you better.

This question prompts many different responses thus have many different purposes from course logistics to student support.

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