Online survey tools offer excellent means to collect data from diverse audiences.  With these resources available, Canisius College is making an effort to reduce photocopying, and phase out costly, time-consuming, and environmentally unfriendly systems such as Scantron.  Canisius faculty who wish to deliver exams or quizzes online may use Desire2Learn's robust Quizzes tool.  Students, faculty and staff who need to conduct surveys or collect information via forms have several options.

It can be challenging to decide exactly which tool you need for online data collection.  Below is a basic guide to the various toolsets available to Canisius users, and what they can do

If you plan to survey any portion of the campus community - students, faculty, or staff - you must read and adhere to the Canisius College survey policy, section 2.1.11 of the Canisius College Policies Manual.  ITS and COLI support are contingent upon adherence to this policy.  

If your survey project involves, or might involve human subject research, you must consult the Canisius College Institutional Review Board.  

For Simple Surveys or Data Collection Forms

Google Forms is a quick, easy-to-use application that allows you to collect input from respondents.  Forms has many question types, simple branching logic, and exports data to Google’s web-based spreadsheet application.  It is great for basic surveys, sign-up sheets, suggestion boxes, and feedback forms.  

Google Forms has features built-in for quizzes, and performs the same functions as Scantron, but more quickly, with more question types, and the ability to randomize answer order in multiple choice questions.  This last feature makes every student's quiz a little different.  Google Forms are easy to use with laptops as well as mobile devices such as phones and tablets.

Canisius College users can build and operate forms within their Canisius-branded Google Drive.  

If you plan to develop a particularly elaborate Google Form, or use a Form as part of a bigger web-based product, we recommend planning the whole project using our web-based project template.

For Advanced Surveys or Data Collection Forms

Qualtrics Research Suite. - a full-featured, web-based application for building and conducting online surveys.  Qualtrics offers complex conditional logic and answer merging or piping, so surveys can present different questions based on respondents’ answers to previous questions.  Survey respondents can be selectively recruited via several methods including email and web links.  Respondent data can be organized using Qualtrics' reporting tools or exported for use in spreadsheets.  Qualtrics has a complex  permissions system that can allow or limit individual user access to survey writing, editing, deployment, and reporting functions.

Qualtrics is appropriate for more complex survey or data collection work, and it requires more time to learn than Google Forms.  If you are using Qualtrics specifically to employ one or more of it's advanced features, you probably building a longer or more complex survey.  So you need to spend time comprehensively planning your survey: what will I ask respondents (and what can I omit asking them)?  How will logic govern the questionnaire?  Do I need to build and upload a list of respondents, so I can track their participation?  Plus, budget time to pilot your survey (test it by collecting faux data) to be certain it functions properly, and collects the data you need.  Qualtrics is easy to use, but you should be thoroughly familiar with it and what you're doing with it, to ensure success. 

Plan your Qualtrics-based project using our web-based project template.

You can go to Qualtrics via  Under "My Applications" you will see a Qualtrics icon.  

Another Option for Advanced Social Science and Healthcare Research

REDCap - a specialized survey project management tool built specifically for academic and scientific research.  REDCap has a toolset ideal for research in many fields, including basic branching logic, piping, multi-user permissions management, email distribution, and even a file collector.  Surveys can be built within a web-based tool, but lengthier, more complex surveys can be efficiently coded within a Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) file.  Researcher data, including survey results but also survey questions and logic, can easily be downloaded as Excel files and stored locally.  REDCap lacks the most complex conditional logic features of Qualtrics and requires time and effort to master.  However, REDCap's survey-building tool allows total data portability, it has project management features geared specifically for long-project science research, and in general it may be more efficient for academic researchers. 

To begin using REDCap, log in using your Canisius College username and password.  REDCap will ask you some basic questions to get you started.  Within REDCap, links to tutorial information are attached to pages, tasks, and procedures throughout, but some introductory tutorial material can be found here.  

Another Option for Use in Classes

Desire2Learn - our learning management system has tools for points-measured assessments such as exams or quizzes, and non-graded surveys.  These provide a variety of question types, scoring options, and organization schemes.  D2L can deliver each student a different exam by randomizing questions and answers, and drawing at random from larger question banks.  Exams and quizzes can be auto-graded, and supply grades directly to D2L's gradebook (Grades tool).  If surveys, exams, or quizzes are built within D2L, only students enrolled in a class may take them after having logged in.

Numerous web-based survey application services offer accounts with varying levels of features, complexity, prices and subscription rates.  Canisius College ITS does not have licenses with these firms, but many offer free accounts with basic survey features.  Some services offer specialized features that we do not have through our licensed accounts:

  • Cognito Forms offers free and paid subscription plans that allow you to collect and store uploaded files from respondents. Congito Forms' free plan allows 100 mb worth of uploads, which is adequate for simple files.
  • Sites or services like Poll Everywhere or IQ Poll enable you to poll your students on a single question during a class, and have the results update in real-time on the projector screen. Typically these sites offer simplified free versions, and tiered pricing based on additional features and more response levels.

For questions concerning online surveys, forms, exams, or quizzes, contact Mark Gallimore at