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In the Business of Conversation Starters: Reframing Surveys and Data Collection

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

When speaking with Dr. Linda Garcia of the Center for Community College Student Engagement, on my “Empowering Women in Educational Leadership” October 4th episode, she shared that they CCCSE is in the business of conversation starters! She meant that they are more than an assessment organization collecting data. Let us expand on this concept together!

When we hear the terms "surveys" and "data collection," the initial imagery might be of cold, sterile numbers and bar graphs. But what if we shift our perspective a little? What if we saw these tools not just as data collection methods but as dynamic conversation starters? In the realm of education, especially with current students and events, these tools can be the catalyst for much-needed change, innovation, and a focus on outcomes.

Beyond Just Numbers: A Pulse Check

Surveys are not merely about collecting data; they are about gauging the pulse of a student body. Every time a student answers a survey question, they're initiating a conversation. They're communicating their experiences, challenges, successes, and expectations. They're offering insights into what's working and what's not.

Turning Feedback into Action

The value of survey feedback lies not just in the data points but in the narrative they shape. For instance, a decline in student satisfaction might signal the need for a shift in processes or the embrace of a new teaching methodology. Feedback on campus events can lead to more inclusive programming, ensuring all students feel represented and heard. Data collection, in this light, becomes less about tallying numbers and more about understanding the stories behind them. It's an invitation to ask, "Why is this trend emerging? How can we make it better?"

Embracing New Ideas

Feedback from students can sometimes challenge long-held beliefs or institutional practices. However, instead of resisting this feedback, seeing it as a conversation starter can pave the way for innovation. It's a call to question the status quo, to reimagine systems, and to embrace fresh, sometimes unconventional, ideas.

Outcomes: The Bigger Picture

The ultimate goal of any educational institution is the success of its students, be it in terms of persistence, graduation rates, or future achievements. Surveys and data collection provide the insights needed to ensure this success.

When students highlight challenges they face, it's a conversation about creating better support systems. When they share positive experiences, it's a discussion about scaling and replicating those successes. Each data point, each feedback, propels the institution towards better outcomes.

Closing Thoughts

In the end, being in the business of conversation starters means understanding that surveys and data collection are more than just tools. They're bridges. Bridges that connect institutions to their students, challenges to solutions, and feedback to action.

Every survey taken, every data point collected, is an opportunity. An opportunity to engage, to change, to innovate, and to refocus on the ultimate goal: the success of every student. As we embrace this perspective, we move from mere data collection to meaningful, outcome-driven conversations.

I encourage you to embrace the idea that when you are looking at the numbers to make decisions, think of the data as conversation starters for seeing improvement in the current situation. For guidance along your journey to become that transformation leader that cares more about the individual and starting the conversation more so than the numbers, reach out to me for a free consultation at Find your story on your terms!

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