Product podium: Introducing surveys.

How Riipen's latest feature redefines the way educators and administrators track experiential learning outcomes. Dive into the potential of our new surveys feature, designed to capture skill development, enhance employability outcome tracking, and elevate overall project satisfaction.
December 21, 2023
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At Riipen, we are constantly iterating to provide our educators and administrators with an even more robust set of customizable tools to help facilitate their project-based learning programs. An important and often time challenging aspect of these programs is outcome measurement. Most institutions perform some form of outcome tracking such as volumetric inputs as in “How many experiences did we provide our learners?”, or overall outcome tracking like “How satisfied were participants of the experience?”, but often struggle to administer and track deeper learning, employability, or satisfaction-based outcomes. These struggles often boil down to the ability to track skill development before, during, and after a project is completed in a scalable way, facilitating regulated and repeatable self-assessments and reflections, and gathering overall satisfaction of stakeholders in time to correct any potential missteps before they become larger problems.

With all of these challenges to overcome to measure the effectiveness of any project-based or work-integrated learning properly, we are thrilled to introduce surveys, our latest platform feature designed to improve every aspect of outcome tracking and general project management for project-based learning opportunities. Our customizable surveys feature empowers educators and administrators to assume a more proactive role in shaping the outcomes they are looking to drive and feedback they are looking to capture, all while enhancing their learners' work-based learning journey.

To dive into the full range of capabilities of Riipen's survey feature, we recently sat down with Emily Masching, Riipen's Director of Product, to explore the fundamentals and learn more about the impact potential of this new feature.

What are surveys on Riipen?

“At first glance, Riipen surveys might look like any other survey tool an educator or administrator has used in the past. Ask different types of questions, get responses from your various stakeholders. However, when you look at how Riipen surveys are integrated directly into a learner’s or employer’s journey as part of a Riipen project and how the responses of those surveys can be used, you start to see the bigger potential.” says Emily.

“Riipen surveys can be inserted into any stage of a project’s timeline - before, during or after a project - for learners or employers alike, and can also be enforced by preventing further actions in their project journey until they are completed. This timing, audience selection, and enforceability really does ensure that the right questions are asked at the right time to the right people, and that they are asked automatically, without the need to perform any traditional manual administration that usually comes with surveys such as sending out mass emails, sending follow-ups asking for responses to be completed, all of which significantly improves response rates.”

Emily adds, “If you can ask it with other survey tools, you can ask it in Riipen as well. Riipen supports all common types of questions including multiple choice, true/false, linear scale, text and more. Riipen surveys also support multiple levels of control that institutions are already used to, such as having centralized institutional-wide surveys guaranteeing the same questions are being asked across all experiences while also providing experience-specific surveys for more niche or fine-grained control on unique experiences.”

Why use Riipen’s custom survey feature?

“Surveys are such a critical component of measuring the outcomes and success of any project-based learning program, it’s not a matter of why anymore, but a matter of how and what to ask. Riipen surveys, especially with their automation options, provide the opportunity to do things such as having a pre-project self-assessment of skills conducted by a learner which can then be compared and contrasted to a post-project self-assessment which asks the learner the same questions. You can go even further and ask employers to evaluate those same skills 50% of the way through a project and again at the end of the project. Suddenly, you have a completely robust set of skill evolutions over the course of the project and can start to look at questions such as ‘How did learners enhance their communication skills over the course of a project?’. After you run the same surveys across multiple learner teams and multiple projects, you start to see your own trends developing.” says Emily.

“But it’s really about looking at the power of surveys alongside all other features on Riipen and how they integrate together.”

“Want to ensure learners can’t start a project without completing a survey? Setting it up as a required pre-project survey and Riipen will prevent learners from reaching out to their project’s company until completed. Want to track employer partner satisfaction without having to maintain email lists or continually track people down for their responses mid-project? Bring all your projects onto Riipen and set your portal-wide survey audience to employers and for it to be run 50% of the way through any project, regardless of start and end dates.”

“Even outside of just individual projects, audiences, and timings, conducting surveys within Riipen also instantly provides near infinite analysis potential of the data you are collecting when you pair the surveys with Riipen’s reporting functionality. You can instantly start to build detailed dashboards of the skills you want to track, segmented by the criteria you care about, over the timelines that fit your needs. One of the most powerful dashboards we have helped build for several institutions involves tracking the employability of their learners across all of the projects they are running. By asking for pre and post-project employability self-assessments, combined with employer evaluations, we have built dashboards that can show the average growth in terms of learner employability across any project and across any faculty, segmented and compared against year-over-year outcomes and more.” 

“It’s really exciting for us to see the truly open-ended potential of outcome and success tracking within Riipen when using surveys in this centralized environment. It really helps paint the picture that has been missing from so many project-based learning programs in the past.”

How can an institution or school get the most out of surveys on Riipen? 

Emily says the most useful types of surveys can be broken down into four major categories:

1. Continuous learning and skill assessment:

No matter what sort of project-based learning you are running, you want to know what direct impact it had on the learner's soft and hard skills. To measure this impact effectively, you will need a combination of learner self-assessments and employer-provided assessments of those particular skills, ensuring that these assessments are run both before and after a project wherever possible to get the clearest indication of impact.

2. Streamlined project management

An extremely effective use of surveys is as an enhanced project management thermometer. Implementing simple check-in style surveys at key project milestones or timings such as 30%, 60%, and 90% completion can eliminate the need for manual check-ins by educators, allowing efficient monitoring and prompt corrective action. A check-in survey can be as simple as a single question like “Is this project progressing according to your expectations?”.

3. Employability outcomes:

Aside from individual skill tracking, general and specific employability tracking is a tremendous use of Riipen surveys. Because surveys can be timed up to 6 months after the end date of a project, you can easily put together a post-graduation survey as part of a capstone program which asks questions such as  “Did this project help you directly or indirectly find related employment after graduation?”. Combine this with other surveys asked immediately after the conclusion of a project targeted at learners asking questions such as “I feel more prepared to enter the workforce (1-5)” and surveys targeted at employers asking questions such as “Do you feel the learners are more prepared to enter the workforce (1-5)” and “Given available resources and the right position, would you consider hiring this learner”, and all of a sudden you have very powerful learner employability tracking.

4. Stakeholder satisfaction:

A more niche and targeted way to get the most out of surveys on Riipen would be to ask meta-style questions to participants of your project-based learning program such as “Would you recommend this to another learner”, or “Is your company willing to complete more projects with our institution in the future”. It’s a great way to assess the overall health of your program.

“Aside from the types of surveys that can be the most valuable,” Emily adds, “Riipen surveys also allow you to tag positive or negative sentiment to potential answers. This is a fantastic addition for quick value by being able to assess individual responses or response trends from your survey. When you are viewing your results, you’ll instantly see what percentage of responses were positive or negative, allowing you to take immediate action to potentially rectify a project management issue mid-project, or view overall trends quickly without worrying about building any complex reporting mechanisms.”

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting started on Surveys for educators and administrators? 

“The best thing to do is just dive in. You can build draft surveys at any time to really see all the configuration possibilities and then choose to either publish them when you are ready to receive responses or just delete them if you are just trying out what is possible.” Emily says.

If you are looking for how-to guides, you can check out these linked articles on how to set up surveys for your Riipen portal or experience:

“If I had to break it down into the best tips for surveys, I’d say:

  • Learn on the side of caution and mark questions as required wherever possible to ensure you get the data you need;
  • Try to avoid surveys over 10-15 questions long depending on the format of the questions;
  • User as many quantitative questions as possible such as multiple choice, true/false, or linear scale to keep it effort low for responders;
  • When tracking outcomes, always try to ask the same questions before and after a project to effectively track the project’s impact;
  • Set as many general-use surveys as you can at your portal level to ensure you are tracking the same metrics across all projects for ease of reporting later;
  • Assign sentiment to your questions and answers wherever possible to allow for the easiest reporting solutions.”

Wrapping up

There you have it. This was a quick look into Riipen’s new survey feature with our very own Emily Masching, Director of Product, explaining its capabilities and how educators and administrators can get the most out of it whether you are looking to improve outcome, employability, satisfaction or general project management tracking within your institution.

If you liked what you discovered today, be sure to check our surveys by logging into your Riipen educator account. 

If you have any feedback or suggestions on how we can make surveys even more effective for you, plus be sure to reach out to us by:

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