Become a Survey Extraordinaire

The Academic Innovations blog is up and running – just in time for the University of Washington-Tacoma’s exciting acquisition of Qualtrics! Why should you be interested in this now free software? Well lets dive in and find out:

What is Qualtrics?

Despite it’s Sci Fi esque name, Qualtrics is fundamentally a surveying platform. “What’s so exciting about surveys?”, you might ask. Well, if you are doing any type of research involving a public opinion, then surveys can be one of your most useful resources. In fact, our very own UWT frequently uses surveys to improve life at the university. The results of one such survey led to the creation of the Pantry, after it revealed “that 32 percent of students faced food insecurity”. And that is just one of many examples that supports the importance of surveys.

It should go without saying then that better surveys lead to better solutions. That’s where Qualtrics comes in. Qualtrics is not your run of the mill surveying platform. In fact, it is such an impressive utility, that it currently ranks at number six on Forbes Cloud 100 list. Here’s a select list of features that make Qualtrics so awesome:

  • Clean and intuitive interface.
  • Extensive organization tools.
  • Collaboration support.
  • In-depth data analysis.
  • Variety of distribution options.

But don’t just take my word for it – try it out for yourself! Thanks to UWT’s institutional license, students receive unlimited access – including no limits on survey responses. So there is nothing to lose, click here and survey away! Sign in with your UWNetID username and password, accept the Terms of Service, and you are good to go!

Where do I start?

If this is your first time logging into Qualtrics, you will be greeted to a screen that looks something like this:

qualtric_project_page

As you can see, there are five application options on the left side of the box. You can disregard all of them for now except Research Core (which should already be selected for you). You’ll notice a total of six templates you can choose from. The top two allow you to create a survey project from scratch or from an existing survey, while the bottom four are “jumpstart” templates. As a student, you will likely only need to worry about the top two.

Lets say we want to create a survey that asks students if they use the computer labs. Click on Blank Survey Project, and name it UWT Computer Lab Survey (this can, of course, be whatever you want). Once you’ve done that, you’ll be greeted with a dashboard that looks like this:

There is a lot going on here, and it can be a bit intimidating if this is your first time seeing it. However, we can ignore a lot of it for now and focus on actually creating our survey questions. In order to keep this simple, let us start with just one question: “Have you ever used the computer labs provided by UWT?”. The answers to this question should be pretty cut and dry, “yes” or “no”. You’ll notice that Qualtrics has already provided us with one question, right in the center of our dash. To change the question title, simply click on the text above the check boxes labeled “Click to write the question text”. The text box will be highlighted, and present you with a few options.

If your question is particularly long or you want to do some snazzy formatting, then you might want to check out the “Rich Content Editor…”. Qualtrics also provides a “HTML view” for any users that prefer a more “basic” text editing experience. For our purposes, however, we can just type our question in to replace the initial text.

When you click out of text-edit mode, you may notice that Qualtrics automatically redefines the choices based on your question. This is part of the intuitive design behind the platform, and can significantly improve your workflow in many scenarios. However, we only need two answers in this case. Luckily, Qualtrics is smart enough to account for this to – rather than deleting the current questions and adding the right ones back in, we can simply lower the “choices” variable (located on the right-hand side) to 2Note: if you want to edit the automatic choice generation, or turn it off altogether, see the “Automatic Choices” tab located directly below “Choices”.

The choices should now only display “Yes” and “No”. And we are good to go! Obviously, your surveys will likely be much more complex, but hopefully this helped you gain some insight on how to get started with Qualtrics. If you are interested in diving into the more complex features Qualtrics provides, I highly recommend looking over their documentation. It is fairly user-friendly, but if you are confused about anything don’t hesitate to contact us or the IT department!

Deploying your Survey

If you want to see what your survey would look like in action simply hit the blue “Preview Survey” button in the upper right corner of the screen. It will give you an idea of how your survey will look and feel on both desktop and mobile. You can tinker with how this looks by clicking the “Look & Feel tab in the upper left corner. Surveys are automatically styled with the UW (Tacoma Branded) theme, but you can edit various stylistic elements of your survey to better suit your needs. Once everything looks good and all your questions are formatted, you can deploy your survey. Click on the “Distributions” tab on the top menu bar, and select your preferred distribution method. Here is what our survey looks like (using the “web” distribution method): https://uwt.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_d4NlqIluxDwKoCx

Qualtrics goes much deeper than this, but hopefully this tiny guide helped you to get your first project started. This software is an astoundingly useful and complex utility, one that we would love to cover more in the future. If you are interested in seeing more about Qualtrics, especially regarding a feature not mentioned in this post, please comment below!  We have a lot of new content planned, and are excited to use this tool (among others) to gain insight on how we might improve campus-life.

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