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Create surveys and use the included statistics tools to monitor current course trends and opinions, and assess user satisfaction. Survey results can be collected anonymously if desired.

The survey tool is an extremely useful tool used to create surveys and questionnaires within your course. It is an excellent way to solicit feedback from users regarding any aspect of your course. For example, it can be used as a method of delivering general course evaluations, mid-year reviews, or surveys associated with learning styles and preferences, etc.

The Survey tool is very similar in structure and shares many components with the Quizzes tool.

To access the survey tool

The Survey tool is not available on the default navigation bar. It is always available to instructors through the Edit Course link in their course. 

Instructors can choose to add the Survey tool to the navigation bar for Student access in their course by customizing their Navigation bar.

Creating survey questions

To create survey questions:

  1. Select the Question Library icon on the Manage Surveys page. The Surveys tool shares the Question Library and its content with both the Quizzes and Self Assessment tools.
    While editing a survey, select the Layout/Questions tab and click Add/Edit Questions.
  2. Once you are in the Add/Edit Questions area, select a question type from the Create New drop-down list and click Go to create a question.

Survey question types

Most question types available to the Survey tool are similar to the questions available in the Quizzes tool. Refer to Quizzes User Guide, for details on the various question types available to the Survey tool. The Likert Question type is available exclusively for use in Surveys.

Likert Question

The Likert Question is unique to the Survey tool. Use Likert questions to choose one of seven scales for users to use for providing feedback.

  1. Give your question an identifiable title.
  2. Enter instructions into the Introductory Text box.

    Example: Please rate your enjoyment of each section of the course as listed below where 1 the lowest rating and 5 the highest rating.

  3. If you would like to use an image in the question, click Add a File and select an image to include.
  4. Choose one of the following scales:
    • One to Five (1 to 5)
    • One to Eight (1 to 8)
    • Agreement Scale (Disagree-Agree)
    • Satisfaction Scale (Dissatisfied-Satisfied)
    • Frequency Scale (Never-Always)
    • Importance Scale (Unimportant-Important)
    • Opposition Scale (Oppose-Support)
  5. Select Include an N/A option if you want to allow respondents to answer 'N/A' (not applicable) for this question.
  6. In the Questions section enter each item that you wish to be rated. You must have at least one item to be rated. More question boxes can be added by clicking Add Item or excess boxes deleted by clicking Remove.
  7. Provide feedback to the question that will be displayed to the user, if applicable.

Importing survey questions from a text file

Survey questions can be created offline using the Learning Environment's Text Format File. Follow the steps below to access a template for creating the text file.

If you have already created your questions offline using the template, and would like to populate your questions into the library:

  1. On the Manage Surveys page, click the Question Library icon or open a survey and choose the Survey Layout/Questions tab.
  2. Click Import.
  3. Choose "From a Desire2Learn Text Format File" from the Import Source drop-down list.
  4. If you simply want to download the text file template to begin creating your questions, select the CSV Sample File link and Save the file on your computer.
  5. To upload a question file you have completed, click Browse and select the file you want upload to the question library. Click Open.
  6. Click Save.

Creating and editing surveys

To create a new survey:

  1. Select the Survey link from your course navbar.
  2. Click the New Survey icon to create a new survey, or select the name of the survey you wish to edit from the list.

See below for details on the various tabs for creating/editing surveys.

Setting up survey properties

The Properties tab displays by default when you create or edit a survey.

  1. Type a Name for your survey.
  2. If the give instant feedback box is checked, users will receive feedback immediately after answering a question.
  3. Check the Anonymous option to hide user data in survey results. The responses to survey questions are available for all users, but the system will not report who made what response.
  4. Enter a text message to be displayed to users at the top of the survey in the Description field.
  5. Enter text in the Footer Message field that will be shown to users at the end of the survey.
  6. In the Submission Message text box, add a message that will be shown to users after survey completion.
  7. Click Invite Participants to send registered users an email inviting them to take the survey. This email will include a link to the survey.
  8. Click Save Survey.

Special access

Use the Special Access feature to override the availability settings of a survey for specified individuals. You can also use Special Access to restrict a survey only to identified users.

  1. Click on the Restrictions tab.
  2. Click Add Special Access.
  3. If you want to make the survey available to selected users during a special time period, select Assign special access period and enter a Start Date and/or End Date.
  4. Check the boxes beside the users you want to assign special access to.
  5. Click Add Selected.
  6. If you want to limit access to prevent other users from accessing the survey, select restrict to those with special access below.
  7. Click Save Survey at the top of the page.


You can associate a survey with a competency activity to tie the survey response to a set of learning objectives and a competency you want your users to master. You will also be able to evaluate the survey using a rubric.


You can create survey reports that amalgamate gathered survey data by organizational unit. Reports can be customized to meet all your needs to release the results of the data collected. You can create multiple survey reports.

  1. From within a survey, click the Reports Setup tab.
  2. Click the Add Report button.
  3. Type a Report Name.
  4. Choose one of the following Report Types:
    • Show aggregate data: displays the data collected for multiple choice questions, true and false, Likert, multi-select, and matching question types.
    • Show text responses: displays the data collected for long answers, short answers and fill-in-the-blanks question types.
    • Show signed comments: displays responses (with data) for any long answer questions in the survey with the Show signed comments property turned on where the user has given permission to release their name with their response.
    • Show unsigned comments: displays responses (with data) for any long answer questions in the survey with the Show signed comments property turned on where the user has not given permission to release their name with their response.
    • Hide user information: will not display the user's first and last name when the Individual Attempts report is viewed.
  5. Set your Release options. Here you can set up the when and to whom this survey report will be released. Select Immediately or select a date from the drop-down lists or calendar icon. Check the users and roles that you want to release the report to.
  6. Click Save Report.

Survey layout and questions

The structure and layout of the survey is shown in the Layout/Questions tab:

  1. From within a survey, click the Layout/Questions tab.
  2. Click the Add/Edit Questions button to add or remove questions or sections to this survey.

For further information on adding questions, refer to Quizzes User Guide.
You can also reorder questions (change the order in which they are presented) from the question library. See Quizzes User Guide.

Survey branching

If you have Multiple Choice or True/False questions in your survey it is possible to add branching. Branching is an optional feature that must be enabled for your course offering by site administration.

  1. From within a survey, click the Layout/Questions tab.
  2. Click the Branching Wizard button. The wizard displays a list of the questions in your survey and their corresponding types. Answers are shown for Multiple Choice and True/False questions. You can choose to skip questions or terminate the survey based on the answer to a Multiple Choice or True/False question.
  3. Choose the answers that you wish to create a branch from and fill in appropriate branching information.
  4. Click Save.

When branching is used, survey questions are presented one at a time, each on a separate page (i.e. page breaks are inserted between every question).

Mandatory questions

If you mark a question Mandatory, respondents cannot submit the survey until they have answered the question.

  1. On the Layout/Questions tab, click the Edit button.
  2. Select the Mandatory checkbox beside the questions you want to force respondents to answer.
  3. Click Save (not Save Survey).

Mandatory questions cannot be used in conjunction with the Prevent Moving Backwards setting.
Mandatory questions cannot be used with branching.

Prevent moving backwards

You can prevent respondents from returning to previous pages as they complete a survey, so that they can only move forward until they reach the end of the survey.

  1. On the Layout/Questions tab, click the grey lines between questions to divide your survey into pages.
  2. Select the Prevent moving backwards through pages checkbox.
  3. Click Save Survey.

This setting cannot be used if your survey has any mandatory questions.

Re-Ordering surveys

  1. From the Manage Surveys page, click the Re-Order Surveys icon.
  2. Select a survey name and click the up or down arrows to move the survey to the desired list position.
  3. Repeat the previous step for each survey name until you have achieved the desired order.
  4. Click Save.

Deleting surveys

  1. From the Manage Surveys page, click the Delete Surveys icon.
  2. Check the box beside the surveys you want to delete.
  3. Click Delete Selected.
  4. Click Survey List to return to the Manage Surveys page.

Viewing survey reports

  1. From the Manage Surveys page, click the applicable survey name.
  2. Click on the Survey Reports icon from the choices at the top of the survey page (not the Reports Setup tab).
  3. To view a report, click on the report name (you must have already created one or more survey reports; see Reports, p. 5, for details).
  4. Check the From or To fields and enter the appropriate dates if you want to restrict your report to a certain time frame.
  5. Click Generate HTML Report to view the report in your browser, or Generate CSV Report to save the report as a CSV file on your computer.

Viewing survey results

  1. From the Manage Surveys page, click the Results icon beside the applicable survey.
  2. Based on how you have setup the survey properties, your may see a list of all users or just the overall survey results (if anonymous).
  3. Click on an individual attempt or the Overall Survey Results icon (at the bottom of the page).
  4. Click Survey List to return to the main survey page.

Previewing a survey

  1. From the Manage Surveys page, click the Preview icon beside a survey name. You are shown the survey questions as users would see them. It is always a good idea to preview a survey before releasing it to users.
  2. Click the Survey List icon to return to the Manage Surveys page.

When previewing a survey, you are not shown any introduction message that you have set up. If you answer and save the questions you will not return any results.

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