LAWG Week: Amber Hill on Boosting Online Survey Participation

Hello! My name is Amber Hill and I am a research specialist at McREL International’s Denver, Colorado office. My work focuses on education research and my responsibilities include managing online surveys administered to state departments of education, districts, school staff, parents, and students in the United States, Pacific region, and Australia. Encouraging online survey participation can be tricky, which is why I use a variety of methods.

Hot Tip – Work with the IT Pros

Ensuring that participants receive the survey in the first place can be half of the battle. No matter your level of information technology (IT) expertise, it is helpful to coordinate efforts between the IT pros who work for your survey software provider, your own organization, and the organization for which you are administering the survey. Those three groups can help you with white listing, test emails, firewalls, and broken links.

Hot Tip – Communicate Early, Communicate Often

Participants are often leery of participating in a survey administered by a stranger, especially if the content is sensitive. Working with a partner organization that is familiar to participants helps increase understanding about the purpose, value, and trustworthiness of the survey and evaluator. Partner organizations may send an e-mail to participants with the evaluator’s name and contact information in advance of the recruitment e-mail. Follow-up and reminder e-mails from the evaluator that includes references to the partner organization shows participants the coordination between the organizations. Keeping surveys open for extended amounts of time also allows for more reminders and opportunities for participants to ask questions.

Cool Trick- Provide Participate Appropriate Incentives

Incentives such as monetary compensation or prizes can motivate participants to spend their time on the survey. Try to think of something that participants would genuinely enjoy or find useful. Incentives may go to participants or survey administrators, depending on how the survey is distributed. When funding is limited, a drawing for a prize among participants who elect to provide their contact information may be effective.

Rad Resources – Denver’s Urban Trails and Parks

While at Evaluation 2014, you will notice that Denver’s outdoor culture thrives everywhere from mountains peaks to downtown. The Colorado Convention Center bumps up against the Cherry Creek Trail, which if taken north leads to Confluence Park and south leads to Sunken Gardens Park and beyond. A quick exploration west will hook up with the South Platte River Trail and to Sloan’s Lake Park.  Longer treks east of downtown will reward visitors with mountain views at Cheesman Park (go to the Pavilion) and animal life at the Denver Zoo and City Park. Get outside!

We’re thinking forward to October and the Evaluation 2014 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Registration will soon be open! Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to

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