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VIVA: Virginia Course Materials Survey

Virginia's Academic Library Consortium

This guide has variable layouts and houses the majority of the "sub" pages for VIVA's website.

Virginia Course Materials Survey

In October 2021, in cooperation with our member institutions, VIVA is conducting a Course Materials Survey for Virginia students in higher education.  The survey, approved by the George Mason University IRB as 1735732, builds on the work of previous states and regions and includes a special emphasis on educational equity.

The overarching research questions are:

  • What is the impact of course material costs on educational equity among Virginia students?
  • What course content materials do students find to be most beneficial to their learning?

The survey is completely anonymous and will take approximately ten minutes to complete.  Respondents will be able to choose to be entered into a random drawing for five $100 Amazon gift cards and 180 $25 Amazon gift cards.

An outline of the general process is as follows:

  • VIVA is asking all member institutions to draw a random sample of 20% of their student population (or 100 students, whichever is greater), reporting the count to VIVA. 
  • VIVA will provide the approved email invitations to be sent to students by the institutions – an initial email and a follow-up email a week or so later.  Survey URLs will be customized for each institution. 
  • The institutions will be asked to distribute the email invitations ideally sometime during October 2021. 
  • VIVA will process the data, and summary-level data from each institution’s results will be shared with that institution if there are at least 25 local responses.

A few frequently asked questions and answers are provided below.  If you have any additional questions about this survey, please write to us at


Q:  Why is it a 20% random sample?

A:  Many institutions have concerns about survey fatigue for their students. Consultations with institutions and estimates of likely final respondent counts led the Task Force to determine that a 20% sample seemed to be a fair balance.  These consultations also revealed that institutions have varying abilities to stratify samples, such as along undergraduate and graduate populations, and in order to be consistent, we are only requesting a purely random sample.

Q:  What populations should be included in the sample?

A:  All student populations (undergraduate, graduate, certificate programs) are welcome.  Dual enrollment populations should likely be excluded because of the age requirement (18+), as should prison student populations (a protected group).  If you have students who live outside Virginia, such as fully online students, they are welcome to participate.

Q:  Why are you asking the institutions to send the survey invitation?

A:  If institutions distribute the email, rather than the VIVA Central Office, there are no concerns about exchanging private student data.  There was also feedback that students are more likely to answer surveys coming from their home institutions rather than an external entity.  Many institutions are sending the survey from their libraries, as that is the most direct connection to VIVA.

Q:  What is the minimum commitment for participating? 

A:  We need at least a count of the students to which the survey was distributed as well as the initial invitation to the survey to be sent to those students.  If there is no way for the institution to complete a follow-up email, that would not exclude the institution from participating.

Q:  Is there a way for the follow-up email to go only to non-respondents?

A:  Due to the structure of this approach, follow-up emails must go to all survey participants, even those that have already answered the survey.

Q:  When will participating institutions receive the final, local email to send to students?

A:  The local emails will be sent to participating institutions on September 20th.  If you need them sooner, please write to

Q:  When will the survey be open?

A:  The plan is to open the survey instrument on October 1, 2021, and close it on November 30, 2021.

Q:  Does the survey need to be sent out in October 2021?

A:  We are hoping that participating institutions will distribute the survey to students via email sometime in October, but if local needs (such as class patterns outside of the usual 16-week semester) suggest that another time would be better, please write to us at 

Q:  How will students who are selected for incentives/gift certificates receive them?

A:  In December, after the entire survey has closed, there will be a random drawing to select students for incentives.  The gift card codes will then be emailed to those students.