AOS Spring 2020 Results infographic

Ask Our Students Survey Results

In March, IEHE launched the “Ask Our Students” survey to help college and university leaders obtain information about their students’ needs — at no cost. In this article, we share the Spring 2020 Ask Our Students Survey Results.

Nearly 25 ,000 students received the survey and more than 4,000 responded from across the country. Public and private institutions have participated in the Ask Our Students project, including both four-year institutions and community colleges. Participating institutions are located throughout the US and Canada.

Spring 2020 – Ask Our Student Survey Results

With spring semesters having come to a close, we share the Spring 2020 aggregate results from participating institutions. Institutions can participate in the summer 2020 or fall 2020 survey.

AOS Spring 2020 Results infographic

In addition, in the open ended responses, students identified specific areas where they need more information, including:

  • With regard to final grades, pass/fail options. How will this be handled?
  • Is the required internship still required? Will there be other options or extensions for meeting this requirement?
  • I feel like I’m not learning anymore I’m just doing what I need to do to get by.

Through the AOS survey, student respondents have offered kudos to specific staff/faculty members for their hard work. Institutions have passed on these acknowledgements to the appropriate campus constituent(s). Examples include:

  • My professors have been very understanding and helpful during this time. Not only checking in on us as students, but as people! They have been very accommodating and have done a great job at continuing my education online at this time!
  • Ms. B. is always my go to if I need help with anything. She is so friendly and knowledgeable . . . and never makes me feel like I am a problem, and as an older student that makes this whole going back to school experience so positive.
  • Our Dean has been terrific at responding to emails quickly, even though I’m sure she must be getting quite a lot!
  • The dining hall and residence life staff should get huge credit for their hard work. Great job!
  • I’m glad that the university is trying to hear the students’ voices. Thank you so much for that.

Key Takeaways and Action Steps for Higher Ed Leaders

  • Transition to Online: While nearly half of students managed online learning fairly well (52%), more than one-third did not. Interventions with both faculty and students to improve the structure of offerings for the fall will likely be worthwhile. Otherwise, those for whom online learning was a struggle may choose to defer enrollment until in-person classes are available.
  • Student Engagement: More than half of survey respondents (54%) indicated that engagement with other students is important or very important to them. Each institution’s ability to connect with students and keep them connected with each other may be critical to their Fall semester decision. The most popular student engagement opportunities were live streamed guest speakers and virtual trivia/game nights.
  • Fall Semester Return: The overwhelming majority of students indicated they plan to return to their current institution in the fall. Specifically, 86% of those who will not be graduating in the next year plan to return. But changes in family finances and the manner in which institutions reopen could change that. Obviously, the number of students who choose to return, along with new students who decide when to begin has a dramatic impact on the institution’s budget.

About the Survey

In March 2020, colleges and university administrators across the country began working tirelessly to implement the best decisions for their students in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The unprecedented uncertainty of the moment has been stressful for everyone – students, faculty, and staff. Students learned largely at home, attempting to manage online classes they didn’t expect to take. And each institution struggled to determine what academic, social, and emotional supports they could and should provide at this critical time. Institutional resources were stretched to the limits, with the negative financial impacts of the virus potentially significant.

As institutions think about what’s next, IEHE created a free student survey that gave institutions the chance to connect with their students and ask them what they needed. The survey was short, but asked important questions.  Ask Our Students was offered at NO cost and with NO additional burden to institutions. IEHE administered and monitored the survey, provided the results, and offered suggestions for next steps. Given the success of the Ask Our Students survey, IEHE is extending the free survey administration in summer 2020 and fall 2020.

The Ask Our Students Survey provided institutions with the data needed to gauge how students were adjusting to an unprecedented situation. The results could help determine what other supports could be implemented to help them succeed. The survey provided critical insight into concerns like:

  • How are our students feeling about the transition?
  • What is working for our students, and what isn’t?
  • Which student needs aren’t we addressing?
  • What else do students need to succeed?

Why the “Ask Our Students” Survey?

  1. At the beginning of this crisis, the IEHE team asked ourselves, “How can we help?” We noticed that college and university leaders were sharing strategies and resources. However, we observed that the student voice wasn’t yet being captured. Through this pro bono effort, we are able to apply our expert survey development and administration to meaningful work during this period of upheaval.
  2. Partnering with institutions helps to elevate and support institutions. This effort helped us fulfill our mission to partner with institutions in their efforts to improve student success.
  3. IEHE is interested in learning from higher education’s response to the coronavirus. In particular, we want to understand students’ interim needs/experiences. That knowledge will allow institutions to better prepare for the future.

All of this was free, simply because it’s right thing to do. We want to help the many institutions who have limited time and resources but need immediate, actionable information.

Can We Participate in the AOS Survey?

Given the benefits that our partner campuses saw from the Spring 2020 survey, IEHE is extending the survey into summer 2020 and fall 2020. If you have questions, suggestions, or would like to participate in a future iteration of the survey, please contact IEHE. More information is available on the Ask Our Students webpage at