Create a Get to Know You Student Survey

What is a Get to Know You Student Survey?

A “Get to Know You Student Survey” is a short, online survey designed to help you gather information about your students. Generally, two types of surveys can be designed depending on the purpose and type of information being collected. A personal information survey helps you understand your students’ expectations, needs, challenges, and preferences. A background knowledge probe or prior learning self-assessment survey collects information on the prior knowledge and skills related to your course content that a student may or may not have acquired. We recommend that if you intend to do both kinds of surveys to deliver them separately and consider the section below on anonymity of responses.

A survey collecting personal information, can include questions about your students’ ability to engage in your course (e.g., access to technology), which can help you adjust your plans based on the students’ responses. For example, if you learn that most students will not have access to a printer, you can take this knowledge into consideration when planning your course and offer an alternative for students to printing course materials. It can also include questions of a more personal nature, such as pronoun usage, preferred name etc.

A separate survey can be used to collect information about what your students know, their abilities or skills, the learning experiences they have had before beginning your course, and how confident they are in their knowledge or skills. These types of assessments are simple to create and can be easily modified to your specific context and content. Keep in mind that students may not accurately assess their abilities; however, ensuring the response choices are specific will help them differentiate their type and level of knowledge.

For example, you could ask how confident a student feels in their knowledge on a particular concept or ability to demonstrate a specific skill. A multiple-choice confidence scale for content related question may look like the following:

A. I have never heard of this concept.
B. I have heard of this concept, but would have to look up an explanation.
C. I have heard of this concept and could give at least one example of its application.
D. I know this concept well enough to explain it to my classmates or apply it to a new situation or context.


You can also use open-ended or short answer questions. Asking students questions about their prior learning for the course can also help students to identify gaps in their foundational knowledge and concepts or skills where they may require additional support.


Should Survey Responses be Anonymous or Linked to Individual Students?

We recommend using an anonymous survey to gather information about student background knowledge or any general questions where anonymous responses would improve the accuracy of student responses. In this instance, the survey would tell you about your class as a group, as opposed to giving you specific information about each student.

If you plan to ask questions of a more personal nature that inquire about specific needs or identifying information that you wish to attribute to individual students, such as pronouns, preferred name, technology concerns, and accessibility concerns, your survey responses would need to be linked to individual, identified students and therefore be non-anonymized. Be sure to let students know how you will use the information that you gather in the survey and keep the responses confidential.

Access a Sample Get to Know You Student Survey

If you would like to use a Get to Know You Student Survey in your courses, we have created a Get To Know You Student Survey that you can modify and use. To request a copy of the survey, email with “Get to Know You Survey” in the subject line. We will share a copy of the survey with you via Qualtrics. You can then login to your Qualtrics account and edit, add, or remove any questions as applicable. Once you have edited the survey, you can send the distribution link to the students (available by clicking on Distributions -> Get a single reusable link) via email or post the survey link in a Courselink announcement.

Additional Resources

Using background knowledge probes. Bringham Young University, Center for Teaching and Learning.
How to assess students’ prior knowledge. Carnegie Mellon University, Eberly Center Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation.

Contact Us


E-mail the Office of Teaching and Learning ( with any questions related to your teaching and learning needs.

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