A few months back, I wrote a blog post describing how I used to get to know my students via a little survey I would distribute to them in our first class together – my ‘Getting to Know You’ survey.  As discussed in that post, I found my survey to be an effective way to start building a supportive learning environment in the classroom. I did this by connecting with my students via the information they chose to disclose to me via the survey.

Over the years, I have discussed the survey at many UTS events and have shared it with many attendees.  It is my understanding that a number of them have gone on to use the survey. However, I have little knowledge about the survey’s use or its effects. So you could imagine my joy when I finally had the chance to see some completed surveys and talk with the academic who invited her students to complete it – Dr Sumati Ahuja from the UTS Business School.  As we flicked through the surveys and chatted, I thought it was such a shame that only I was hearing what Sumati was saying. So in the spirit of sharing, Sumati has kindly agreed to share her insights in this Q&A session.

Q & A

Adam: Thanks for agreeing to participate Sumati.  Can I start by asking you why you decided to use the survey?

Sumati: I have used a similar survey in the past and found it works very well for getting to know the students in the first meeting.

Adam: When and how did you go about distributing and collecting the surveys?

Sumati: I distributed and collected the surveys in our first class of the session.

Adam: What was the response from the students when you asked them to complete the survey?

Sumati: Students were very willing to participate.

Adam: What did your students disclose to you in their completed surveys?

Sumati: Students disclosed their names, previous work experience, professional interests, passions and if they were enrolled in a double degree or had previously completed a degree/qualification.

Adam: How has this disclosed information helped you?

Sumati: The survey exercise was a great icebreaker. It has helped me remember student names and gain insights into who my students were.

Adam: That’s all from me. Thanks for sharing your insights Sumati.  Any final message?

Sumati: It’s a very useful tool for demonstrating a genuine interest in who the students are and helped me better align my lectures to the cohort especially as they were first year students.

It gives me great pleasure to share this post with you.  If you too have had success with the survey, I’d like to hear from you (drop me an email).  Likewise, if you are doing something else that helps you connect with your students, please contact with me as I’m always keen to hear what others do (and to perhaps profile you in a Q&A Futures post).

I encourage you to give the ‘Getting to Know You’ survey a go this coming teaching session.  The survey, available for download below, is in word, so you can change whatever you like. It’s important that your survey contains the questions that you would like to know about your students.

Click here to view/download the survey.

Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


  • I’ve used a version of the survey in my French Language & Culture classes. I include questions about what students hope to get out of taking the subject (which can help me calibrate expectations on both sides), what resources or skills they have that give them confidence to study French and what about learning a new language they find intimidating. I’ve even returned the survey to students at the end of the session so they can see how far they’ve come in terms of their goals and confidence with using the language.

  • Excellent! To get to know our students, particularly to understand their needs and interests are also the priority of my teaching approaches which I feel helpful for both of the teaching and learning.

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