The Visitor Studies Group: Championing excellent visitor experiences

VSA training event

Surveys 101 Workshop
Tuesday, January 10, 2023 | 1:00 pm ET, 10:00 am PT


Stephen Ashton, Ph.D., Director of Audience Research and Evaluation, Thanksgiving Point

Kari Ross Nelson, M.A., M.S., Research and Evaluation Associate, Thanksgiving Point


Back by popular demand! Surveys are one of the most widely used and flexible tools used by evaluators. In this 90-minute participatory workshop, attendees will learn best practices for creating and conducting effective, accurate, equitable surveys–from articulating evaluation questions to crafting survey items. Attendees will practice identifying poor survey practices so they can avoid them. We will discuss the pros and cons of the different methods of administering surveys (electronic, paper, etc.). Lastly, attendees will practice developing effective evaluation questions and survey items.

This workshop is intended for beginner museum and visitor studies professionals or for those who are looking to update their understanding of effective surveying.


As visitor studies professionals, we are interested in knowing many things, such as our impact, what other people think of our institutions, how to improve our exhibits or programming, how effective we are at meeting our goals and objectives, and how we can better meet the needs of our audiences. While it’s not the only evaluation tool, conducting effective surveys is one way in which we can begin to answer those questions.

Here are a few of the things we will discuss in this participatory workshop session:

  • How to create an effective, equitable survey that will produce accurate data
  • Understanding evaluation questions to guide survey development
  • What to ask or NOT to ask
  • Phrasing demographic questions with DEAI principles in mind
  • Sampling
  • Survey incentives
  • Survey distribution (electronic, paper, etc.)

Much of the time will be spent on the following activity: After a discussion of best practices, each workshop attendee will be given a sample survey. They will then be invited to go through the survey and identify things that are wrong with the survey items. We will then go through the survey together and see how everyone did, discussing as a group the reasons how the items are flawed. Toward the end, attendees will be invited to articulate evaluation questions and create 2-3 survey items that they might ask to answer those evaluation question. We will then have attendees help each other in small groups to create those effective questions and items.

This session is intended for museum professionals, but it will be a great refresher for more experienced attendees as well. It will be particularly useful for museum practitioners. This is not just for those with backgrounds in evaluation. Anyone should be able to join and get something meaningful from it.

Much time will be allotted for questions and discussion throughout the session, not just at the end.

This workshop is $30 for VSA Members and $45 for Non Members.

Registration Link:!/

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