Student Surveys

Students Rating their Teacher

Research found that teachers’ student survey results are predictive of student achievement gains. It is also found that student surveys produce more consistent results than classroom observations or achievement gain measures.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2012). MET project, Research Report “Asking Students about Teaching Student Perception Surveys and Their Implementation.


The most prominent off-the-shelf student perception survey in K-12 education is the Tripod Project survey. The Tripod survey was originally developed by Harvard researcher Ron Ferguson, and has since received extensive support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measure of Effective Teaching (MET) Project.

Student perspectives can help guide:

  • teachers as they work to improve;
  • leaders as they set professional development priorities for teachers;
  • coaches and mentors in supporting teachers;
  • higher education institutions as they develop teacher training programs.

Ronald Ferguson, Tripod Classroom-Level Student Perceptions as Measures of Teaching Effectiveness. 2011.

The Tripod questions are gathered under seven headings, or constructs, called the Seven C’s. The seven constructs are: Care, Control, Clarify, Challenge, Captivate, Confer and Consolidate. Within each construct, there are a number of statements that the student is asked to rate based on a five (or four) point Likert scale of agreement. The surveys vary by age group.

The following table shows examples of items used to measure each of the Seven C’s based on a four point Likert scale. as follows:

Always Usually Sometimes Never
4 3 2 1

Tripod Survey Sample Questions

CARE My teacher in this class makes me feel that s/he really cares about me.
My teacher really tries to understand how students feel about things.
CONTROL Students in this class treat the teacher with respect.
Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.
CLARIFY My teacher has several good ways to explain each topic that we cover in this class.
My teacher explains difficult things clearly.
CHALLENGE In this class, we learn a lot almost every day.
In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes.
CAPTIVATE My teacher makes lessons interesting.
I like the ways we learn in this class.
CONFER Students speak up and share their ideas about class work.
My teacher respects my ideas and suggestions.
CONSOLIDATE My teacher checks to make sure we understand what s/he is teaching us.
The comments that I get on my work in this class help me understand how to improve.

Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Learning About Teaching: Initial Findings from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project (Research Paper).” December 2010, p. 9.

The following survey questions adapted from Ron Ferguson’s Tripod Project 2011.

Always Usually Sometimes Never
4 3 2 1
Students Rating their Teacher
Survey Question 4 3 2 1
Students in the classroom feel cared for
 1. My teacher makes me feel that he/she cares about me.
 2. My teacher encourages me to do my best.
 3. My teacher is helpful when I ask questions.
Student behavior is managed to enable learning
 4. Our class stays busy and does not waste time.
 5. My teacher’s classroom rules and ways of doing things are fair.
 6. My classmates’ misbehavior slows down the learning process.
 7. My classmates and I know what we should be doing and learning.
Students receive support and scaffolding
 8. My teacher checks to make sure we understand what he/she is teaching us.
 9. My teacher explains another way if you don’t understand something.
 10. My teacher takes time to summarize what we learn each day
 11. My teacher helps me when I need it or don’t understand something.
Students experience a challenging work environment
 12. My teacher accepts nothing less than our full effort.
 13. My teacher knows when I work hard and am doing my best
 14. We learn to correct our mistakes.
 15. My teacher wants us to improve our thinking skills.
 16. My teacher wants me to explain my thinking.
 17. We learn a lot almost every day.
Students are invested in classroom learning
 18. My teacher tells us what we are learning and why.
 19. My teacher helps us set goals for our learning and keep track of our progress.
 20. My teacher makes school work interesting.
 21. We get choices in how to complete activities.
 22. My teacher makes me work hard so I learn what I need to know
 23. My teacher assigns homework that helps me learn.
Students receive descriptive feedback
 24. When my teacher marks my work, he/she writes on my papers to help me understand.
25.The comments that I get on my work help me understand how to do my work better.
Student Perception Survey

“No one has a bigger stake in teaching effectiveness than students. Nor are there any better experts on how teaching is experienced by its intended beneficiaries. But only recently have many policymakers and practitioners come to recognize that—when asked the right questions, in the right ways—students can be an important source of information on the quality of teaching and the learning environment in individual classrooms.”

MET project. Student Perception Surveys and Their Implementation. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.