The response rate is calculated by the total number of complete returned surveys (or 80% or more) divided by the total number of participants you contacted. So if you asked 20 graduating students to complete an exit survey and 15 completed the survey, the response rate is 75%. There are several strategies to increase the response rates:
- Communicate the survey purpose, value, and how results will be used.
- Give sufficient time to complete the survey (online survey: 7-14 days)
- Make sure the survey is short, clear, logical, and easy to follow. Pilot-test the survey, so the items and instructions are written in understandable manner to the potential respondents.
- Send out reminders (thank the respondents, show how many responded, include a survey link, and remind respondents about the deadline)
- Use the existing opportunities to gather the target respondents (e.g., administer the survey in class, staff meeting, etc.)
- Offer an incentive (e.g., gift certificate, etc.)
- Consider the best timing of your survey, so you are not administering the survey when the respondents are busy.
- AEA365: "Maximizing response rates" by Jessica Foster
- Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment, The University of Texas at Austin: “Response Rates.”
- Teaching and Learning Services, McGill University: Strategies to increase online response rate (for course evaluation)
- Dillman, D. A. (2000). Mail and Internet surveys: The total design method (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.