I am a huge proponent of sharing survey results with the participants in the survey itself.  But it can be easy to send the wrong message.  How you visualize and speak about the data can engage the participants effectively or come across as disingenuous.

The Visualization I Use for My Own Analysis

For me, I like to use a “shifted” bar graph where the neutral proportion is in the middle, with “Agree” and “Strongly Agree” proportions on the right and “Disagree” and “Strongly Disagree” proportions on the left.  This way, I can quickly see which area is weak both through the bar’s horizontal shift, and through the colors.

My two bars that are the most shifted left are I have a say in how I learn and I feel safe & comfortable, but these questions don’t have any Strongly Disagree responses.  The question with the most Strongly Disagree responses that is also shifted more to the left than others, is the question asking if the Challenge level is appropriate.

As a teacher, this gives me direction to look into the free flow comments related to these specific areas.

Why I Won’t Share This Graph

When I share my results with students, it is for the following purposes:

  • Validate that their survey responses are important to me
  • Model growth mindedness and humility
  • Set and declare goals, to show that I am a learner as well

This year, as you can see, my results came back quite favorable.  By showing this graph, with the large majority in “Agree” and “Strongly Agree”, students who feel the other way will feel that their responses don’t matter.  I also might be sending the message that I’m great already and don’t need to change.  My results also might be better than a different teacher and I wouldn’t want the kids to know that.

How I Modify My Graph

First, I get rid of the responses as words and change each response to a numeric 1 to 5 in order to get an average for each question:


Then when I make my graph, I set a scale that puts the majority of my bars in the middle of the display while also removing the scale labels entirely.


How I Orchestrate My Discussion

When I show this to my kids, I start by thanking them.  I remind them that when I give them feedback on their tests and quizzes, it’s to help them learn to be better mathematicians – and that their feedback to me is to help me be a better teacher.

I then let them know that I’ve removed the scale so that I don’t focus on the score.  I often make the connection to their grades and how they shouldn’t focus on their own scores, but instead on what they do with the scores.  I then acknowledge some of my “glows” and “grows” – areas the students felt are going well and areas where there are opportunities.

Lastly, I declare goals and action steps in front of them.  For second semester this year, I’m going to find action steps around allowing students to choose challenge levels for themselves – which would then be a solution related both to having a say and the appropriate challenge levels.

Getting This Right Shows Students You Care

Moreover, it shows students you value the ideals you convey: that we care about student voices, that feedback is not about the grades, and that we are all lifelong learners.



Disclaimer: The data and graphics used on this site are simulated re-creations intended to protect the privacy of the original data sources.