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Do I Need a Survey? Who Can Help?

Do I Need a Survey?

Use this decision tree to evaluate if a survey is the most effective way to gather the information or data you need.

Contact your your local assessment specialist for assistance if questions arise.

Alternatives to Surveying

Exisiting Institutional Data

The institution may already have the data you need. To determine this, you can

Focus Groups or Group Interviews

Use these face-to-face techniques to gather qualitative information and/or to capture nuances that are very difficult to reveal through a traditional survey. These methods can also be used to help formulate a survey, for instance by clarifying or honing the questions to be included on a survey. The Students Assessing Teaching and Learning (SATAL) program can support the collection of this kind of information from UCM undergraduates.

Alternative Data Gathering (Assessment) Techniques

Surveys, including satifacton surveys, are sometimes not the most effective ways to determine the impact of a service, workshop, or other instructional or service activities. Think about the impact(s) you’d like to see on the recipients of your service or the participants in your workshop, then find ways to determine if the impact was achieved. 


  • Embed an exercise at the end of an activity that asks participants to demonstrate their knowledge of key takeways. For instance, at the conclusion of a worshop on stress management ask participants to list three strategies for managing stress and to identify the one that they plan to try. If a large fraction of participants are able to list three strategies, this tells you that your workshop achieved the intended impact for a majority of the participants.
  • Identify the behaviors the activity was intended to impact, and see if those behaviors differ before and after the activity. For instance, perhaps the number of counseling appointments increased after a workshop in which counseling was intentionally emphasized as a resource for taking control of your mental health.
  • Gather data that describes use or participation data to determine if the people you intend to use your service are in fact using it. For instance, track the number and type of students who attend a workshop on planning the major (e.g. using CAT Card swipes or the iCat Card Services) and compare those data to your goals for participation.  This direct approach is not only easier, it provides more useful and reliable data than surveying students at a later date.

Who at UC Merced can help me with my survey?

Help for the following is available:

  • Strategies for data collection, assessment, and or research design
  • Survey need or design, including question wording, survey administration, and data tabulation and analysis 
  • Determining what data already exist (e.g., other survey data, etc.)
  • Completing the Survey Proposal Form

If you work in one of UC Merced's three schools, visit the staff page to identify and find contact information for your Asssessment Manager or Accreditation Analyst.

If you are in Student Affairs, contact Emily Langdon, Ph.D. (209-386-3824), Coordinator for Assessment, Evaluation & Research.

You can also contact Institutional Research and Decision Support (IRDS) by visiting the Surveys page on the IRDS website.