This year for the Noel-Levitz PSOL I tried a different approach with survey incentives. Every student who completed the student satisfaction survey received a 2GB flash drive for their trouble. Since this is the fifth time we have used the survey, I have some pretty good baselines to compare results with, and partly I was interested in what a difference the more liberal incentives policy would make. Last year we gave out 40 flash drives in a random drawing and saw an increase in submissions from prior years. This year we went another step down that road.
We received 121 more responses than the previous high number of returns from 2008. The percentage response rate only went up from 23% to 25%, which is a pretty modest increase. However, that increase of only 2 percentage points resulted in an increase of 24% more responses (121 more with a 2008 base of 458 responses) since our online student population was also a couple hundred students higher in 2009 than in 2008.
Basically, we spent about $3,000 in incentives in order to get significantly more information. You’ll see in the upcoming posts that the satisfaction data collected this year is very similar to the data in all the other years. One thing I was interested in seeing is whether the added incentives might change the results – would more students answer the survey without really putting out the effort to answer sincerely, for example? Apparently not (at least in my opinion).