What is Your Vision for the Future of Education?

Inspired by Jane McGonigal's SXSWedu "How to Think Like a Futurist" keynote.

  1. Collect signals from the present
  2. Combine signals into a 10-year forecast
  3.  Create personal foresight

Collect Signals

3D printed food +  Virtual Reality + Animal Empathy + Low Carbon Diets = 

Combine Signals into a 10-year Forecast

Create Personal Foresight

Future Forecast: Learning is Earning

What is your personal foresight  for the future of education?   What are the positive and negative implications? 

Survey Research and Acceptable Response Rates

The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys

Nulty, D. D. (2008). The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: what can be done?. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education,33(3), 301-314. https://www.uaf.edu/files/uafgov/fsadmin-nulty5-19-10.pdf

This article is about differences between, and the adequacy of, response rates to online and paper-based course and teaching evaluation surveys. Its aim is to provide practical guidance on these matters. The first part of the article gives an overview of online surveying in general, a review of data relating to survey response rates and practical advice to help boost response rates. The second part of the article discusses when a response rate may be considered large enough for the survey data to provide adequate evidence for accountability and improvement purposes. The article ends with suggestions for improving the effectiveness of evaluation strategy. These suggestions are: to seek to obtain the highest response rates possible to all surveys; to take account of probable effects of survey design and methods on the feedback obtained when interpreting that feedback; and to enhance this action by making use of data derived from multiple methods of gathering feedback. 

When the more traditional and conservative conditions are set, the best reported response rate obtained for on-paper surveys (65%) is only adequate when the class size exceeds approximately 500 students. The best reported response rates for online surveys (47%) are only adequate for class sizes above 750 students. The 20% response rate achieved for online surveys by Griffith University would not be adequate even with class sizes of 2000 students.


Typical Response Rates for Common Survey Types
Surveys that you distribute internally (i.e. to employees) generally have a much higher response rate than those distributed to external audiences (i.e. customers).

Internal surveys will generally receive a 30-40% response rate (or more) on average, compared to an average 10-15% response rate for external surveys.

3 Ways to Improve Your Survey Response Rates

To help improve your survey response rate keep these key factors in mind:

1. Survey Design: Research has shown that surveys should take 5 minutes or less to complete. Although 6 – 10 minutes is acceptable, those that take longer than 11 minutes will likely result in lower response rates. On average, respondents can complete 5 closed-ended questions per minute and 2 open-ended questions per minute.

2. Provide Clear Value: Offer a copy of the final results to all those who complete the survey, and, if appropriate, consider offering an incentive. If you plan to take action based on the results of your survey, make those clear in your survey invitation. Remember, people will be more likely to respond if they understand how that time will be spent.

3. Send Reminders: As the close of your survey approaches, gently nudge those who haven’t finished yet. Limit yourself to no more than two reminder emails, changing the time of day and the day of the week that you send them out so that you can reach as many different respondents as possible.


Survey Sample Size Calculator


When it comes to probability surveying, creating a sample size should never be left to guessing or estimates. Instead, it should be based on three criteria:

The size of your target population: This refers to the total amount of people that are eligible to participate in your survey. For example, a study on Ontario citizens’ sleeping habits would have a population equivalent to that province’s population (13.5 million). In many studies it will be impossible to know how many people make up a population. If this is the case, it is accepted among researchers to use a fake population size of 20,000 or larger.
Your desired confidence level: Usually placed at a value of 95% in surveying, the confidence level describes how sure you can be that your results are correct. With a 95% confidence level, a researcher can be certain that the value of any sample will fall in the range of the margin of error 95% of the time.
Your allowed margin of error: Margin of error depicts the random sampling error that is possible in the study. This is important because it is impossible to know whether a sample’s results are identical with the true value of the population. The value allotted to the margin of error describes the range in value that the population may have based on the results in the study. This is always described as a plus or minus value.

For example, most people choose a margin of error 5+/- with a 95% confidence interval. If your results showed that 67% of people love rock music, you could say that you are 95% confident that 62-72% (known as the confidence interval) of your targeted population love rock music.

A Rationale for Limiting the use of First Person Pronouns for Academic Writing

Graduate students frequently wonder whether they can use first person pronouns when writing academic papers. Below is a brief guide that students can use to determine when and why writing in the first person is acceptable or not.

  1.  Review a number of articles from a highly reputable journal in your discipline. Are they written in the first person? If no, then you should model your writing in a similar style if you would eventually like to seek publication in a similar journal.
  2. Early in your academic journey, very little of what you write is truly your own work. It is most likely an interpretation of the relevant literature. Thus, there is little need to refer to yourself.
  3. When submitting a paper for a class assignment the instructor obviously knows that you wrote it and thus there is no need to refer to yourself unless stating a specific opinion. 

Are first-person pronouns acceptable in scientific writing?

 "First-person pronouns are acceptable in limited contexts. Avoid their use in rote descriptions of your methodology (“We performed the assay…”). Instead, use them to communicate that an action or a decision that you performed affects the outcome of the research."

The Scientist’s Handbook for Writing Papers and Dissertations argues that in using the third person, the writer conveys that anyone else considering the same evidence would come to the same conclusion. The first person should be reserved for stating personal opinions.

Good Style: Writing for Science and Technology2 is also against use of the first person in scientific writing, explaining that “readers of scientific papers are interested primarily in scientific facts, not in who established them.” However, this book also points out that there are points in scientific papers where it is necessary to indicate who carried out a specific action.

In Eloquent Science, Dr. Shultz concludes that “first-person pronouns in scientific writing are acceptable if used in a limited fashion and to enhance clarity.” In other words, don’t pepper your paper with I’s and We’s. But you don’t have to rigidly avoid the first person either. For example, use it when stating a nonstandard assumption (“Unlike Day and Gastel, I assumed that…”). Or use it when explaining a personal action or observation (“We decided not to include…”). Finally, follow the conventions in your field, and particularly check that the journal you intend to submit your paper to does not specifically ban the use of the first person (as a handful of journals do).

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