IT Teaching Resources

How to use anonymous surveys to get student feedback

Anonymous semi-regular feedback forms can pave the way for a more student-centered learning experience

Use Case Promising practices Tool

Anonymous surveys provide a mechanism for student voice, iteration, and culture-building in a classroom. There are various tools available for this purpose, like Qualtrics and Google Forms.

Surveys can be distributed through various channels: email, Canvas announcements, Canvas assignments, etc. Allow students some time during class — perhaps during breaks at the end of class — to fill in anonymous surveys. This allows for maximum participation as well as more critical and well-defined feedback from the students. The pacing of surveys will depend on the instructor’s style, but many instructors aim to conduct mid-quarter and end-quarter surveys as well as having 2-5 surveys short surveys throughout the quarter.

GSE instructors like Nadia Gathers and Erica Woolsey even utilize anonymous feedback as a design tool. According to Woolsey, “We also make it very clear to the students that we’re co-designing this course with them. And so we have a lot of dedication to reflective practice at the end of each class, as well as anonymous feedback so that we can see what’s working, see what isn’t, and change and iterate as needed and staying true to our messages and our teaching. That’s what design looks like.”

How can an instructor implement this?

It’s vital to include learner-friendly language in your survey. For example, phrasing such as “what might we” instead of “what would you” can set a more inclusive tone. It’s a good idea to include free-response questions in addition to multiple-choice questions so that students have the chance to express their thoughts in different ways.

After conducting each survey, acknowledge student responses. Showing students that their opinion is valued will increase responses in the next round of surveys. One approach might be to start the next class with a brief announcement regarding “big picture” feedback and how it will be rolled into the course in the future. 

How to create a survey:
  1. Go to Make sure you are signed in with your Stanford Account.

  1. Start a new form. Feel free to modify one of the templates, or start a blank one.

  1. Give your form a suitable title and get started with your questions. You can choose the type of question you want — multiple-choice, short answer, etc. You can also make questions required/optional. 

  1. Once done with the form, you can get it ready for sharing. The default settings are ideal for anonymous surveys. Click on the send button on the top right corner.

  1. You can now choose how to share your survey. The email option opens up by default, but you can switch to generating a link. Be sure not to check the “Automatically collect respondent’s Stanford University email address” for anonymous surveys.

External Resources:

How to use Google Forms
Course Evaluation Template

About the author

Ananya Kapoor, Computer Science '22