Pre- or Early- Semester Student Surveys

(Rev. date: October 05, 2020 - 11:56am)

Conducting a student survey before or early in the semester is a best practice in any course, but can be especially helpful in a course with students connecting online. It signals to students the instructor’s commitment to their learning, builds community, helps identify challenges students may face that the instructor can address, and communicates the instructor’s expectations for the semester.   

When adminstering your survey, consider if you will allow students to respond anonymously or not.  Identifying student responses will allow you to work directly with students on addressing their concerns or unique situation.  Anonymous surveys may lead students to share their concerns in more detail, but the instructor may find it harder to address the concerns specifically. It can still be done. For example, the instructor can communication to all students in the class that they should contact their advisor if students report concerns about anxiety or access to technology.  A blanket statement can ensure all students know of resources and help available to them. 

In addition to a survey, you may want to consider sharing tips to help students prepare for taking an online course in your Blackboard site or via email as the semester begins.

Ways to Create a Survey

Instructors have several options for conducting surveys.  

  • Use the Blackboard survey (anonymous) or test (identifiable responses) tool if the instructor has made the Blackboard course site available and students can access it. 
  • Use MS Forms – JHU has access to Microsoft Forms. It has many of the same features as Google Forms but student responses can be identified or received anonymously. (Please use your ​JhedID@​ email as your username. NOT
  • Use third-party survey tools. You may be limited in the number of questions you can ask or responses you can receive.   

Possible Survey Questions 

Below are possible questions faculty could include on a survey. It is not recommended to include all the questions. Faculty should use questions that are most relevant to their course. Faculty should also only include questions that generate responses that faculty can address.  


  • Class time is scheduled for                   , do you anticipate a problem participating at that time?   
    • No 
    • Yes – Time Zone 
    • Yes – Connectivity 
    • Yes – Family Responsibilities 
    • Yes – Other (please describe) 
  • What challenges will you face connecting synchronously (live) with the class? 
  • I am planning to record the class so that students in distant time zones can still access our discussions.  These recordings will only be for our internal use— they will not be shared with the public in any way.  What concerns, if any, do you have with the class sessions being recorded? 
  • If you currently plan to attend in person, please rate your level of comfort with transitioning to fully online if circumstances require such a shift.

Study Environment 

  • What challenges will you face accessing content online (e.g., poor Internet access, computer access, sharing computer with family members)? 
    • Instructors should forward students to their advisors for issues students report regarding technology access, mental health concerns, etc.)
  • Do you have a dedicated space to study?  If not, what concerns do you have about how your work environment might impact your performance? 

Student Expectations

  • What do you expect from the teaching team (list at least 3 items - or whatever direction you want to give)?
  • What do you expect out of the course (list at least 3 items - or whatever direction you want to give)?
  • Why did you choose to take the course online or in-person (please specify the option you choose in your response)?

Experience in Online Learning Environments/ Technology Used in this Course 

  • How many online courses have you taken?
  • Rate your previous experience learning online.
    [Excellent - Very Good - Good - Fair - Poor]
  • What did the instructor do well that you would like to share?  
  • We will be using the software package,                   , in our class. Please download it now and report any problems with installation.  
  • Do you have a web camera to connect with Zoom (Respondus, etc)? 
  • What is your level of experience with these tools?
    [Extensive Experience - Some Experience - Little Experience - No Experience] 
    • Blackboard Learning Site 
    • Zoom 
    • MS Office 365 (online Word, PPT, Excel apps) 
    • MS Teams 
    • [Add any technology tools you will be using here] 
  • Online Readiness
    [Agree - Somewhat agree – Disagree] 
    • I am willing to use e-mail and other online tools to ask my classmates and instructors questions. 
    • I am good at using the computer. 
    • I am comfortable surfing the Internet. 
    • I am comfortable conducting searches, setting bookmarks, and downloading files. 
    • I am comfortable installing software and changing configuration settings on my computer.  
    • I know someone who can help me if I have computer problems. 
    • I have headphones or speakers and a microphone to use if a class has a videoconference. 
    • I am connected to the Internet with a fairly fast, reliable connection such as DSL or cable modem. 
  • Do you have any questions or concerns about moving the class online and distance learning that you would like to share with me?

Icebreaker Questions (not specific to online learning) 

  • Where are you from? 
  • What is your major or intended major? 
  • In a few words, explain why you decided to take this course. 
  • What’s one book/movie/activity/etc. that you enjoyed recently? 
  • What’s one place or activity in Baltimore that you particularly enjoy? 
  • Is there anything you’d like me to know about you as a student?  (your strengths, weaknesses, interests, goals, preferred ways or learning, etc.) 
(Rev. date: October 05, 2020 - 11:56am)