Paper surveys bring in more responses, school finds

June 6, 2013

We've written about the differences between paper and electronic surveys before, and the benefits of each. Electronic surveys can often reach more people and are easier for organizations to take data from. However, since not everyone has access or can use a computer, there will likely always be a need for paper surveys. One school also found that when they began sending out electronic surveys to students, participation rates dropped drastically. 

The University of Texas at Arlington began emailing students questions for the end-of-the-semester Student Feedback Surveys in the fall of 2011. When the school sent paper surveys, there was a response rate of about 74 percent, which fell to 33 percent when the surveys went digital, providing a much smaller, and likely inaccurate, group of information.

"If you wrote a research paper for one of my classes and your bibliography included only one source, I can almost guarantee you would fail," David Silva, vice provost of Academic Affairs said to the student newspaper, the Shorthorn. "How is this any different? If you are only using the surveys to choose a professor, you aren't getting the full picture, which is not fair to anyone involved."

Silva also explained that one of the reasons participation rate fell was because students no longer had a physical reminder that they once had. 

The reason the school went digital was to avoid the work that was needed to scan and enter the data from the paper surveys. However, by outsourcing to data entry services schools like UT Arlington and others that employ paper surveys can improve the response rate and have a more accurate picture of how respondents feel. 

Tab Service Company is a Chicago based company with over 53 years of experience as a data processing service provider.  We provide business with outsourcing solutions for document scanning services, data entry services and mailing/lettershop services.  As a SOC2-approved service organization, we apply industry-best practices to our approach with clients.