This page provides a range of resources for planning and developing a program-level alumni survey instrument. These resources include best-practices and guidelines, as well as examples.
UVM uses Qualtrics for administering online surveys. Qualtrics is user-friendly and offers options for creating accessible and flexible surveys.
There are a number of resources to assist you in building a good survey. These include advice on survey length, content, and distribution. Even if you have experience with the process, it's a great idea to remind yourself of the basics: ask only what you really need to know, and ask it in the simplest way possible.
- Check out this external link with great introductory tips and guidance.
- This site provides tips for increasing your response rate, including limiting survey length, messaging, outreach, and incentives.
- Click here for a nice run down of the role of question design in getting good data from alumni, such as reserving open response format questions for the end of the survey, asking questions in chronological order, and avoiding complex rating scales.
Departments and programs at UVM who conduct good alumni or exit surveys are often happy to share knowledge and experiences with those in the planning process. Below are some departments with active survey programs:
- Large undergraduate department: the Department of Economics last conducted an alumni survey as part of their assessment practices in fall 2020. Check out their survey report (Microsoft Word file) to get an idea of their design and outcomes.
- PhD program: LCOM maintains an open alumni survey tool that gathers a small but useful data set
Note: we are seeking other departments/programs who would be willing to share survey instruments and discuss their alumni engagement with us. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an example to share.
Your survey is completed: what now?
One of the most important steps in the survey process is determining what you will do with the data once it comes in. Of course, every survey can bring surprises, but an important survey strategy is to plan changes, revisions, or adjustments based on the data you collect. Will your program look to make curricular revisions based on the results? Change your approach to content emphasizing equity and diversity? Add new events/workshops for students? Sunset old activities that are no longer useful? Creating your survey alongside a strategic plan for making use of the results (beyond simply generating a survey report) will also help you generate the most meaningful question set possible.