Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Developing a Pre-Course Survey

Distributing a pre-course survey will help instructors get to know their students and get a sense of the class before the first day. Open-ended questions often elicit valuable information about student identity as it relates to the course, and allow students to choose if, and how much, to share. One method to protect anonymity is to distribute index cards on which students may write their answers. 

Brainstorm one question you might ask students to help you understand them as learners.

  • What do you want to get out of this course (in addition to the fact that it is required)?
  • What would you like me to know about you and the circumstances under which you are learning this semester?
  • What should I know about you that would help me help you learn better?
  • Where do you do your work? Where do you read? Where do you watch videos?
  • In a few sentences, what is one of the most memorable/exciting/interesting things you learned last semester?
  • Why are you most excited about for taking this course?
  • When was the first time you remember becoming interested in the subject of this course? Why?
  • Tell me one thing that you have found helpful in learning and studying that seems unique among your friends.
  • What are three of the factors you imagine will be most impactful on your ability to participate fully in the course this semester?
  • Do you have concerns about being able to participate fully during our synchronous class time?
  • How do you enjoy learning?
  • When was the last time you had any interaction with this subject matter? What is your reason for taking this class now?
  • What are your pronouns?
  • What are you most excited about in this course? What are you most worried about?
  • What is the most important thing you hope to learn from this course?
  • How do you feel you learn best? How do you know?