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Student Engagement Series: Part 3 – Surveys

As educators, we should constantly be challenging students to do research in more formalized ways. Here is one thing that you can insert into your class that will accomplish that end, and yet do so in a way that is not overly formalized. It is something that can be fun for students and teach them how to develop a research mindset. And this concept is applicable across disciplines. The concept involves having students develop and execute surveys within the classroom.

There is really no set topic that you would be limited to with this approach. And at the same time, you can control the process with well-defined assignment prompts. You could allow students to use this method to develop their research skills and prepare them for increasingly more complicated graduate programs.

Creating and deploying a survey is an easy way to engage students and get them to think about how to ask questions. We are all challenged with how to ask effective questions and a survey makes us think through that process. It takes something as simple as asking a question and turns it into a process that we can iterate to become better at asking questions.

We know that surveys are a commonly used tool in research. They are mostly used in higher education when students are pursuing a master's degree or a doctorate. Typically, at either of those levels, you're doing some kind of survey work. By bringing this into lower levels of education, say baccalaureate degrees and even high school, we can get students to ask questions with a research mindset.

You can implement this by having students survey each other inside the classroom and then write about the experience. They can summarize the process and the results. Writing about those things will help them to become more effective writers. And because this is not information that will be published, it is just going to be used as a fun developmental scenario, you should not make this an overly formal process. The key to this exercise is to get students to develop a research mindset and to ask great questions.

About the Author

Frank M. Sorokach is a leadership and management expert with both practical and academic experience. His general focus is on organizational improvement through the development of systems and personnel. He has almost thirty years of applied management experience in varied disciplines and has been a faculty member at Penn State University since 2012, where he is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Economics and Business. He has taught in resident instruction at the Scranton Campus, asynchronously at the World Campus, and delivers training to corporate clients. He has held leadership roles at the Penn State Scranton Campus and the Penn State World Campus. Frank’s primary expertise includes economics, technology, project management, business strategy, risk management, marketing, future trends, and personal efficiency topics. His research is specifically focused on the application of new concepts and systems to improve efficiency. This includes the integration of not only technology, but also new management theory. Additionally, he has been a leading digital faculty consultant for McGraw-Hill Education since 2017.

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