Iowa State makes Qualtrics available to all students

Natalie Whitis

ISU students now have a new way to complete and make online surveys.

The university recently obtained a campuswide license to use a survey program called Qualtrics. Many colleges and departments have been using this program already, but for the first time, the entire university can access it.

Mike Lohrbach, senior systems analyst for Information Technology Services, played a large role in obtaining the license. He said Qualtrics will give students many options for making or taking surveys.

“The tool has a lot of capabilities,” Lohrbach said. “It’s got a lot of templates built in. The ability to survey using multiple choice questions, satisfaction sliders, you can even display three images and pick your favorite image.”

Lohrbach also said Qualtrics has superior reporting compared to other survey tools.

“It integrates with other tools we have on campus, and it is single sign-on so you can use your regular student ID and password,” Lohrbach said.

Many colleges and departments have been using Qualtrics already.

“The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was moving from a departmental license to a college license; the College of Agriculture and Life Science had a license; [the College of] Business had a license, and there were a couple small licenses here and there throughout,” Lohrbach said.

All together, these individual college licenses cost approximately $30,000.

Because the university was already paying for several Qualtrics licenses, Lohrbach and his team negotiated with the company to get reimbursement before buying a universitywide license. Although the total cost of the license was $53,000, the university received $13,000 in credits to help pay for it.

Karla Embleton, program coordinator for human sciences administration, has experience using Qualtrics.

“We have three different reasons for using Qualtrics,” Embleton said. “One is for classes, and one is for forms. … If you want to apply for a program, somebody wants an exit survey, those kind of forms. And the third kind would be research projects.”

She noted that one advantage of Qualtrics is its accessibility.

Not only can everyone on campus use Qualtrics, but also “you don’t have to be a computer programmer to use this. It’s very nice,” Embleton said.

Lohrbach imagines the software having many applications. He said student organizations could use it to poll their members, IT Services could use it to assess the level of interest for a particular kind of software and colleges could use it to discover what students want done each year.

Embleton also highlighted the help services Qualtrics offers to users.

“There’s a help tutorial, which goes back to the company’s website,” Embleton said. “[You] can all phone the number if you have questions. If they can’t answer you right away they phone you back. So it’s there, if you’re trying to figure out how to do something at 11:30 at night on your own.”

Although Qualtrics is currently being used for surveys and peer evaluations, Embleton can see it being used for homework and tests in the future.

“There are ways to generate a unique URL for each person so I can invite you to take it,” she said. “The way we’re using it right now, we haven’t been worried about that security, but that’s one of the strong points about Qualtrics: … If you want to use those kinds of tools, you can.”