How to Use Surveys
Before we start increasing your enrollments, we need to plug the holes in your school. To retain students you need to know how they feel about their classes and the services that they receive. There is a common and destructive tendency in our industry to assume that we know what is best for our students.
Because we are the black belt and have years of experience, we mistakenly assume we are providing for our student’s needs. This can only be overcome by first realizing that everyone has different motives and needs in your class. You’ll want to survey your students and/or their parents to get the information you can use to uncover and meet those needs.
We recommend that you conduct a survey at least every six months, if not every quarter.
If we are going to advertise that we have the individual students’ goals in mind, it makes sense to get an idea of what they want in a school. Of course, we probably already have this information from when they first enrolled, but you need to see how you’re doing meeting their needs on a regular basis. If your students are interested in area A and you keep forcing area B down their throat, then you are going to have a high dropout rate.
What Can You Survey?
You can survey a wide variety of areas in your school or may choose to do one survey that will give you an overview of your entire school. Some example of areas that you may cover includes:
- Instructor Performance
- Student Service
- Special Events
You may have other areas that you’d like to survey but the above examples should give you a good idea of where you could start.
What Type of Questions Can You Ask?
You can ask yes and no questions, questions that require a written detailed response, multiple-choice- it’s up to you. Keep in mind that you may want more details than a simple “yes” or “no” gives you.
At USA Karate, my original location, we asked a combination and for each question, allowed the survey taker to give us more details so that we knew specifically what they meant by their answers. You may want to do the same as well.
Here is a sample year-end survey. You can change these questions and answers to serve your needs.
In order to help us provide you with even higher quality instruction, please take a moment to complete this survey.
Circle one: Gender: Male Female
Age: under 12 over 12
Class Time and Days : _______________
Your original goals for joining our school were to:
- learn self-defense
- get in shape
- improve self-confidence
- relieve stress
- improve self-discipline
- increase concentration
- other _________________
Has the curriculum helped you meet your original goals?
yes / no
The curriculum being taught at my current rank seems to be:
- too easy
- just right
- too difficult
Please explain. __________________________________________________________________.
The quantity of material required at my current rank is:
- not enough
- just right
- too much
Please explain specifically. __________________________________________________________________.
Do you feel we cover your curriculum adequately before testing?
yes / no
How would you rate your instructor’s presentation of the curriculum?
Do you feel that the curriculum teaches you realistic self-defense?
yes / no
What would you like to see more of in the curriculum?
What would you like to see less of in the curriculum?
For your lifestyle, what class length would work best for you?
- 1 hour
- 2 hours
Given the value of our program, the services and expertise we provide how much do you feel our classes are worth monthly (Please keep in mind that average schools charge between $149.00-$199.00 a month)?
Less than $100 per month
- $149.00-$199.00 per month
- $199.00-249.00 per month
- Classes are priceless!
Distribution is Key
Even in this day of technology, you may still want to conduct class surveys on paper to help make sure that every one that is attending classes completes one. For your adult students, hand the evaluation to them with a pen before class starts.
Although you don’t have to have them put their name on the survey, have them turn the survey in with their student card at the beginning of class so that you can record that they completed one and that the survey belongs to a certain day/class time/and rank. For your kids, hand the evaluation to the parents with a clipboard and pen.
When a student or parent turns in the survey put a red dot on their student card. At the end of the week, make it a point to get a survey to everyone without a red dot on their card. Your goal is to get as close to 100% participation as possible.
Tip: People will be more apt to be open and honest if you ask them to, and if you let them know that you want the info to help improve their school. Also, let them know that they don’t have to put their name on it in advance.
It’s critical that you respond to the surveys. If you see a trend or receive a good suggestion, acknowledge it in your announcements, newsletter, social networking pages, and on the student bulletin board. For instance: As a result of the surveys you completed, class times will be reduced from two hours to 50 minutes.
For the survey to help your retention and grow your school, you must be willing to:
1. Make some changes as a result of the survey.
2. Communicate to the students that the changes you are making are a result of the survey. Otherwise, they will see no benefit in completing future surveys.
3. Thank everyone for openly giving you their opinions and thoughts.
If the students feel that you are not responding to the survey, they may not pay much attention to it next time since it didn’t make much difference this time. On the other hand, if you do make some changes and you don’t make it clear that it’s in response to the survey, they still may not think the survey made any difference. People are always more apt to get behind a change if they feel it was their idea.
How to Use a Survey to Make Changes
By totaling the number of responses in a particular survey category, you will get an idea of what type of changes you may need to make to improve retention and grow your school.
For example, if you’ve conducted a survey of your class schedule and have found the need for a family class on Friday at 6:00 PM- you may choose to add that class to your schedule after seeing that 10 people want to attend it.
Another example is that your students have said that the curriculum is too hard at a certain level, so you may find a way to make it easier to learn, give them less at that level, or come up with another solution to make it work for your students and the school.
Action Steps: What to do now
Decide what area(s) you’d like to survey first and whom you’ll survey. Choose an area that you already know needs improvement or has been a retention challenge.
If you’re surveying current students, you may want to use a hard copy survey that they can complete while at the school. If you’re surveying past students, you may want to send an email survey to make it easy for them to participate. www.SurveyMonkey.com is a good online service for this.
Write your survey questions. Make them concise and clear and limit them to ten at the most. Ask a friend or staff member to take the survey first to make sure it makes sense to them and is free of spelling errors, etc.
Distribute your survey and keep track of who gives it back to you, what class times they attend, who their instructor is, their rank, etc; to help you make improvements where they need it most.
Review the surveys and decide what action you will take to make improvements, communicate them to your students and thank them.