Hello! My name is Valerie Futch Ehrlich and I am the Evaluation and Research Lead for the Societal Advancement group at the Center for Creative Leadership. My team focuses on supporting our K-12, higher education, non-profit, and public health sector initiatives through evaluation and research. I want to share with you our recent experience using pulse surveys to collect feedback from school-wide faculty on a professional development initiative.
“Pulse surveys” are short, specific, and actionable surveys intended to collect rapid feedback that is immediately utilized to inform the direction of a program, activity, or culture. Through our partnership with Ravenscroft School, we used a pulse survey midway through a (mandated) year-long professional development experience and timed it so that the pulse feedback would inform the next phase of programming.
We used Waggl, a tool designed for pulse surveys, that has a simple interface to include either yes/no questions, agreement scales, or one open-ended question. A neat feature of Waggl is that it allows for voting as long as the pulse is open, encouraging participants to read the open-ended responses of their peers and vote on them. This way, you can have the most actionable requests filter up to the top based on voting, and it can help drive decisions.
In our case, the Waggl responses directly informed the design of the second phase of training. We also repeated the Waggl toward the end of the school year to quickly see if our program had its intended impact, to provide ideas for a more comprehensive evaluation survey, and to inform the next year of work with the school.
- Keep your pulse survey short! This helps ensure participation. It should be no more than 5-10 questions and take less than a minute or two.
- Pulse survey results are quick fodder for infographics! Waggl has this functionality built in, but with a little tweaking you could get similar information from a Google Form or other tools.
- Consider demographic categories that might provide useful ways to cut the data. We looked at differences across school levels and how different cohort groups were responding, which helped our program designers further tailor the training.
- Pulse surveys build engagement and buy-in…when you use them! Faculty reported feeling very validated by our use of their feedback in the program design. The transparency and openness to feedback by our design team likely increased faculty buy-in for the entire program.
Think outside the box for pulse surveys. Although they are popular with companies for exploring employee engagement, imagine using them with parents at a school, mentors at an after-school program, or even students in a classroom giving feedback to their instructor. There are many possibilities! Any place you want quick, useful feedback would be a great place to add them. In our next phase of work, we are considering training school leaders to send out their own pulse surveys and incorporate the feedback into their practices. Stay tuned!
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