How well do you really know your students?
Do you know their needs, wants, and the challenges they incur?
With the rise of technologies and the options student affairs professionals have to their to increase their reach with students, it should be easier than ever to find answers to these questions.
When you listen to students, one-on-one engagement skyrockets, and knowing what type of event or engagement strategy to plan becomes much easier.
The real-time element of polling makes streamlining student engagement possible.
We like to think of polls as a bit-sized, snack-able survey.
What are polls? They are a quick and easy anonymous way to collect additional data that you want to know about your students. Opinion polls, often electronic polls, are small surveys of opinion based on a sample size. These types of polls are designed to represent a larger population.
Through polls, whether distributed on a social media platform or student engagement platform, have the ability to reach students who don’t complete traditional surveys that are sent through e-mail. According to the Education Advisory Board, 72% of students treat student organization e-mails as spam, which means we need to find innovative ways to reach students.
And students are over-surveyed.
Student affairs professionals are turning to polls to really understand the student experience at a micro level: understanding what engagement truly looks like day-to-day rather than just assessing programs over the course of a semester or a year. By the end of the year, it’s most likely too late to make a change.
So… how did polls come to be? That’s a great question.
The Unabridged History of Polls
The first known example of an opinion poll was back when Andrew Jackson was up against John Quincy Adams for United States Presidency. At the time, opinion polls were referred to as a ‘straw vote’ or an ad hoc version of an unofficial vote.
New reporters wrote about straw polls specifically for elections to increase election coverage. They would physically interview voters as they left polling locations.
In 1936, George Gallup (often referred to as the godfather of the opinion poll) founded the American Institute of Public Opinion which led to the creation of additional government polling organizations. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for U.S. President, Gallup was able to correctly predict his presidency with the first scientifically-based survey.
For many years, polls were conducted face-to-face, most often by sending snail mail or having representatives physically approach people in their homes for representative samples. Then, telephone polls became popular, and next, internet polls.
Today we have a wide range of polling, with The Gallup Poll being one of the most reliable and credible polls utilized around the world.
Designing Campus Polls
When designing an electronic poll, often the most important piece are the questions themselves.
Here we explore key considerations when you’re creating a campus or event poll:
- Are the questions you create inclusive to all students? The students on your campus are the end-users of your poll.
- Minor details like question wording can also have a significant impact on the results of a poll.
- Develop some specific go-to polls dependent upon the type of event, time of year, or specific goals/learning outcomes you’ve created. This will help prevent that scrambling feeling right before an event! It will also help when it comes time to look at polling data over a period of time and assessing specific learning outcomes.
- Determine whether you need a campus-wide poll, a poll for one specific event, or a question that pertains to a particular organization or category of organization.
- Consider incorporating polls into a technology or social media platform your campus already utilizes. Integrating polls into something students and professionals helps check it off as part of the organizational workflow.
Examples of Polling Questions
With the Presence student engagement software, polls are displayed on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) used for an event check-in. After students check into an event with their student ID card, the question will pop-up for them to answer. The data received is updated in real-time which means staff and administrators receive insights immediately. Presence campus partners have experienced an increase of 10x student reach by utilizing the polls feature.
It’s easy to customize polls to fit the needs of your staff and students, one event at a time.
The Presence team came together and brainstormed this potential list of polling questions. Before choosing or creating a question, always come back to your goal and intention of why you’re using a poll for an event. Reflect on the information you want to know in order to create a strong relationship with students.
Single or Multiple Choice Polls
What is your favorite food to have at an event?
What staff member would you want to pie in the face?
How did you hear about this event?
Who do you like to attend events with?
What’s your favorite social media platform?
What type of event do you enjoy most?
Why did you come to this event?
What kind of phone do you use?
How often do you utilize faculty hours?
What type of transportation do you utilize?
How many roommates do you have?
When was the last time you spoke with your RA?
What is your favorite swag item?
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Which do you prefer: tank, t-shirt, or long sleeve?
How do you best learn about events?
What was your most favorite event this week?
What is your favorite space on campus?
What time do you generally leave campus?
Where do you prefer to study?
What type of music should we book for the spring concert?
What is your political affiliation?
What hours are you most likely found in the library?
What is your favorite food?
What is your favorite food station in the dining hall?
What day of the week do you do your homework the most?
Have you met the College/University President before?
Do you feel included in campus events?
Do you support the student activity fee?
Are you feeling financially stressed?
Will you vote in the upcoming campus elections?
Do you feel the Student Government Association represents your interests?
Do you support the library being open 24/7?
Do you support the smoking ban?
Do you feel connected to campus?
Do you stay on campus most weekends?
Do you feel our campus is eco-friendly?
Do you feel represented on campus?
Do you feel you have a safe place to practice your religion?
Do you participate in community service?
Do you have health insurance?
Are you aware of how to submit a facilities/maintenance form?
Was this College/University your first choice to attend?
Do you have children?
Are you aware of Title IX reporting?
Do you use birth control?
Have you utilized first response resources on campus?
Are you aware of the institutional scholarships offered?
Have you been homeless in the past?
Are you a member of greek life?
Have you eaten today?
Do you feel prepared for life after college?
Did you take out student loans in order to afford college?
Do you currently have an off-campus job?
Do you feel supported on-campus?
Do you utilize the campus food pantry?
Do you use public transportation to get to campus?
Do you plan on studying abroad?
Are you planning to attend finals programming?
Are you aware of any students who may be homeless?
Are you be interested in attending a resume workshop?
Now that you understand all the reasons why you should implement polls on campus, along with a few examples, we’d love to hear from you.
What types of polls have you implemented on campus?
If you were to implement a poll at an event, what would you want to know from students?