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Mentee and Mentor Survey Administration Best Practices

The benefits achieved from obtaining survey data are dictated by the amount of participants that complete surveys.  However, getting mentees and mentors to complete the survey is only half the battle.  In order to ensure that the data we are collecting is high quality, participants must be honest and thoughtful in their responses to survey questions.  

iMentor has been administering surveys in NYC and with partner affiliates for many years, which has yielded several best practices to keep in mind during each survey administration period to promote both the generation of high quality data and strong completion rates.

Plan Ahead

  • Mentees:
    • Since survey administration occurs on a predictable schedule, completing the survey can be built into the scope and sequence of curriculum at the beginning of each year;
    • As survey administration periods approach, program staff should proactively consider and think through navigation of potential challenges that may arise (i.e., school vacations, scheduled testing, etc.);
    • Mentees may be absent during the class for which survey administration is planned.  Program staff should think through potential solutions for this possibility (i.e., allow absent mentees to complete surveys during future class sessions, during free periods, etc.)
  • Mentors:
    • Mentor messaging should include a “heads-up” regarding upcoming survey administration periods.  The purpose of this notification is twofold – requesting that the mentor complete the survey and informing mentors that they will not receive an email from their mentee since the class session will be spent administering the survey to students;
    • Consider adding an additional 10 minutes to your Beginning of Year/End of Year Call calendar appointment as a buffer and check to see if the mentor has completed the survey prior to the call.  When you complete end early, ask the mentor to use the remainder of the time to complete the survey since they already have it blocked off;
    • Provide mentors with a survey administration timeline.  Inform them how long the survey will remain available and request that they complete the survey in a timely fashion;
      • Consider sending mentors that are delinquent in survey completion after two weeks of administration an Outlook calendar appointment with a deadline and a link to the platform so they have an additional reinforcing reminder to login and complete it. 
    • Clearly explain that responses are confidential will not be shared with heir mentee.  For that reason, honest and candid survey responses are desired.  Note that their responses will in no way impact their participation in the program;
    • Design the mentor huddle at your first event to include time for mentors to complete the survey while they have the time carved out after the event (the survey is smart phone friendly)
      • It is worth noting that not all mentors in your huddle will need to complete the survey, so you may need a plan in place for those that have already done so.

Provide Rationale

  • It is important that both mentees and mentors understand why they are being asked to complete the survey.  Explain that surveys are conducted in order to:
    • learn how well iMentor is executing programming efforts;
    • provide a place for participants to voice opinions and provide feedback regarding their experience in the program;
    • obtain information to report programmatic progress to funding entities.

Support Students in the Classroom

  • Clearly communicate the confidential nature of survey responses
    • Explain to students that their responses are confidential and will not be shared with anyone (emphasize that their mentor will not know how they responded) and encourage them to respond honestly to all questions.
  • Encourage mentees and mentors to complete the survey in one sitting
    • Completing the survey in one administration is a best practice in the social science field to obtain high quality consistent data from participants;
    • While this is much easier to manage on the mentee front, since they are taking the survey under the supervision of program staff, it is an important message to communicate to mentors as well.
  • While mentees complete the survey, program staff should be available to answer questions
    • Program staff should never lead a student to a response, but are certainly encouraged to assist with comprehension (i.e., define a challenging term, contextualize a phrase, etc.);
    • Whenever possible, school partner staff should be engaged to support this process as well.
      • Note: It is also a best practice to provide survey rationale to school partner staff to obtain their buy-in and support to foster mentee survey completion.

Manage to High Survey Completion Rates

After survey invitations are sent, it is the responsibility of program staff to ensure as many participants complete the survey as possible.  The Survey feature on the iMentor platform is designed to facilitate this process.