Learning patterns/Timing and tenaciousness - How to ensure high participation rates at post-conference surveys
What problem does this solve?
In the context of WMDE organizing Europe's largest conference on Open Educational Resources in September 2014, a total of more than 350 participants / OER afficionados from Germany and abroad gathered in Berlin. Our objective was to receive feedback from as many participants of the conference as possible in order to obtain most valid results. However, it’s not always easy to obtain response rates of 40% or higher – especially if the participants have no strong link to the organization responsible for organizing the conference. This learning pattern describes our measures how we managed to achieve a response rate of 50% of conference participants answering the OER post-conference survey. This measures can be adapted easily to other conference or event surveys.
What is the solution?
1. Online questionnaire instead of paper-and-pencil
We decided to use an online survey tool for the administration of the survey, which allowed for an easy access of all conference participants to the questionnaire. The Wikimedia Foundation has an institutional subscription to Qualtrics.com, a web platform that provides a flexible toolkit for building surveys, deploying them electronically, managing participant lists (panels) and analyzing their data. Accounts for this platform can also be provided to chapter representatives or program leaders. By choosing this tool, the participants of our conference were able to fill in the questionnaire directly subsequent to the conference on their computers, notebooks or mobiles. As a most welcome side-effect, online surveys tend to be more motivating and fun to fill out compared to traditional p&p questionnaires. The data is directly available in an electronic form and has not to be entered manually.
2. Choose a beneficial timing to start your survey
Directly subsequent to the end of the conference participants are most activated and motivated to provide their feedback. Within the survey platform we scheduled an automatic mailing to send out the survey link which was synchronized with the closing note of the conference’s host. Additionally, the host emphasized the importance of the survey in his closing note and explained that every participant will receive a survey invitation via email during the next few minutes. As a result, on the day after the conference 72 participants had already provided their feedback (20% of total). However, three days later the response rate dropped down to 9 answers per day.
3. Be tenacious and send out a reminder mailing
To increase the overall response rate of a survey, a reminder mailing is a reasonable measure. Many participants of an event or conference are principally very motivated or willing to provide their feedback. However, if the particular event dates back a few days they simply forget about filling in the feedback survey. To encounter this effect we sent out a very friendly reminder email on day four after the conference, targeted to all participants who had not filled in the survey yet. This reminder can be scheduled and carried out automatically by the online survey platform. By this measure we achieved to push the response rate up to 40 answers per day again. In total 172 participants of the conference provided their feedback via the survey, which represents for a very good response rate of 50%.
Things to consider
- It is most beneficial to send out a reminder email only to people who have not answered your survey yet. Otherwise some of your respondents might be irritated or might try to fill in the survey again, because they suspect that their answers were not submitted properly.
When to use
If you plan a feedback or evaluation survey after a conference or after a similar in-person event.
- Grants:Learning patterns/Framing survey questions
- Grants:Learning patterns/Surveys at different points