Maximizing Survey Results

Once you’ve gone to the considerable trouble of finding names and addresses of former tutors, you’ll want to be sure to get the highest return rate possible. There are a number of easy steps to help make sure that once the survey has been received, it is returned:

  • Be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your snail mailings. Be sure that your electronic mail mailings include clear instructions on how to return a digital version.
  • Be sure that your cover letter gives former tutors a reasonable deadline by which to respond. Two weeks seems about right–long enough to respect how busy alumni are, but soon enough so that it encourages a prompt response.
  • Soon after that deadline has passed, if you have not received a responses from all those with verified addresses, send a follow-up of some sort to those not yet heard from. Post cards, perhaps with a picture of your campus on them, work well. You can perhaps print your message directly on a postcard. If not, you can print out your message in a small font and then photocopy onto postcards:


I hope you got a copy of the survey I sent out a few weeks ago as part of the Peer Tutor Alumni Research Project. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. If you didn’t receive the survey or if you have any questions, please contact me at ________________.

  • Give it another week or ten days. If you still haven’t heard, phone the tutor. Most likely you will need to leave a message, but sometimes you actually reach former tutors. They will be delighted to hear from you. Tell them that you really want to hear about their experience in regards to peer tutoring.
  • We’d urge you to keep extending the deadline and periodically reminding people. People have a tendency to think that if they missed the deadline, their response will no longer be valuable (or that they’re off the hook!).

Now you’ve probably done about all you can. Based on our experience to date, you can expect something in the vicinity of 70-90 percent return rate! Be sure to send participating tutors a thank you note and/or a copy of your analysis of the data, a copy of the report you prepared for your chair, dean or director based on the survey, a copy of the paper on peer tutor alumni that you give at regional or national conferences, any publications that have resulted, etc. Tutors will appreciate your taking them and their experience seriously, and you will be building a formidable constituency of former tutor alumni from your writing center.