Survey Systems Blog

Magenta® for OMR Form Design

Posted by Jackie Jones on Apr 10, 2014 11:42:00 AM

Image Scan vs. OMR Scan Technology

In the past, I have touted the value of the Concord® software by Data Blocks as a cost effective and easy-to-use tool for creating and scanning surveys or questionnaires. It is a great tool for creating image scan documents. However, image scanning may not always meet the needs of your data collection project. Image scanning is cost effective for smaller projects where limited amounts of data are required. The design requirements for image scanning (such as 1/4” between bubbles and 3/8” between any bubble and text) limits the number of questions that can fit onto a page.  

If the survey or questionnaire has a lot of questions or information fields, OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) scanning is a more desirable format to use. OMR format allows for more content (questions) on a single sheet, reducing the printing costs and increasing the speed of data capture. OMR scanning uses timing marks along the side of the form to identify the position of response bubbles. 

Magenta software, Scantron form design


The form design must be very precise because if a timing mark and a response bubble don’t align properly, the response will not be recorded. This is why form design is so critical in the OMR process. Great news:

Magenta Software, Scantron form design software

Magenta® for OMR Form Creation

Data Blocks has a great tool for creating the OMR scannable forms: Magenta. In Magenta, the EZ Form Design Wizard adds the timing marks, links the required fields, and adds the response bubbles for you. It is very intuitive software—takes the work out of forms design, because it does the work for you! Magenta knows all of the rules and standards, and applies them as you create your form. Questions can be either entered directly into the Wizard, or cut and pasted from other word processing programs (uses real Windows” commands). Editing is just as easy, for example, if you find that questions have not been entered in the order desired, simply click and drag the questions to the appropriate place—that easy! Or, using the control button and the arrows, items can be moved a pixel at a time to the desired position. Magenta even automatically numbers the questions for you! It’s so easy. Within a very short time, you can have a very professional looking OMR form ready for printing. These forms can then be printed on a laser printer. Using the Magenta software, your survey/questionnaire can be ready to distribute within a day, rather than weeks.

 This tutorial video shows how EZ it is!

The Magenta software is integrated with Remark® Classic OMR scanning/reporting/scoring software. After the form design is completed and saved, a scanning template can be generated in Magenta for the Remark Classic. If you have not done so, verify that the output order is in the order that you want. You are now ready to scan the completed surveys or questionnaires and collect your data. The Remark software offers a number of report formats to present your data; and the ability to import the data to various other programs (Excel, Access, SPSS, etc.) to create your own reports. The Magenta Suite (which includes the Remark Office OMR software) is a very user-friendly tool for your data collection project.

Organizations looking to design and/or print their data collection forms in house should consider the Magenta Suite. Click the button below to download a free demonstration copy of Magenta. You will be amazed at how easy it is to create your own scannable forms!


Download Magenta Demo



Topics: scantron form, survey form, omr scanner, form design software

Is your Conference Evaluation Form Yielding Meaningful Results?

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Nov 19, 2013 11:57:00 AM

What Are You Asking For?

Is your conference evaluation giving you actionable data that helps you plan your next meeting, or is it just giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling and a nice "pat on the back."

What can you do to ensure that your evaluation form captures meaningful information from your attendees? It could depend not only on what you ask, but also on how it is asked! 

Often, the most constructive and helpful information gathered from event evaluations are the negative responses. 

Isn't that what surveys are about? Letting other people provide input into the process rather than just validating the planning decisions of your committee?

5 Ways to Get Meaningful Feedback

Ask the right questions - focused questions will target key areas of your meeting and return more meaningful responses. Stick to the things you need to know, as opposed to those things that you want to know.

Ask questions in the right way - avoid leading questions that point respondents to the answer you "want" to receive. Make sure each item has an appropriate response scale that is applicable to what is being asked.

Timing - conduct session evaluations while details of the speaker and session are fresh in mind of attendees. Ideally, allow a short period at the end of each session for attendees to evaluate the success of the presenter in communicating his or her content. Overall evaluations that rate registration, location, amenities, etc. should be done as close to the end of the conference as possible.

Use the results - if you don't act on suggestions and comments, they are not meaningful! By acting on the results of your conference and speaker evaluations, you will encourage feedback at future meetings and improve the success of your conference.

Share evaluation results - with speakers, stakeholders, and meeting planners. A report showing feedback results for specific speakers that is shared with those speakers can help them see how they measure up against other presenters at the same conference. Overall meeting evaluation results shared with attendees demonstrate that you value their opinions and input.


Conference Evaluation Sample, Scantron Forms



Exploring Other Avenues

Surveys are a great feedback mechanism, but social media can also be a powerful tool for gathering feedback from your conference attendees. Post questions on Facebook or Twitter and spark more discussions, both internally and externally. Use QR codes posted around your meeting venue to direct attendees to your meeting's Facebook page or website. Use impromptu video-recorded interviews with attendees to measure various aspects of the overall conference experience or to share as testimonials on social media sights.

Plan of Attack

Planning the evaluation process well in advance of your conference or meeting is important if you are trying to gain meaningful insight into the effectiveness of your event and presenters. 

Meet with your planning group specifically to discuss the evaluation process. What do you need to know in order to accurately measure the effectiveness of your conference logistics? Was the registration process functional? Was the conference site adequate? Did the program meet the conference objectives? What information do you need to gather to measure the effectiveness of your speakers?

Review results from past conference evaluations. What changes can you make in light of the information from your last survey or evaluation? 

When your conference evaluation results become a playbook for arranging your next event, then you have attained meaningful, actionable results!



Download Our Conference Evaluation Planning  Guide and Start to Measure Your Success!



Topics: scantron form, session evaluation, conference evaluation

Overall Conference Evaluations–A Blueprint to Plan Your Next Event!

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Jul 26, 2013 1:01:00 PM

The overall conference evaluation is a special tool that enables you to hear the voice of your consumer, and gives you an opportunity to plan your next event to best meet their needs and expectations.

Are You Listening?

An overall conference evaluation is the perfect tool to measure the satisfaction of your attendees and get their feedback as to how the meeting might be improved in coming years. If you are not taking advantage of this opportunity, you may want to reconsider. Feedback from participants is the best resource for planning future events and meetings. A well thought out overall evaluation will uncover a treasure trove of ideas, suggestions and constructive criticism (That's right, not everyone will love every part of your conference!) covering all angles of your meeting.

Conference Evaluation Sample, Scantron Forms

Evaluation Categories

Most overall conference evaluations are broken up into several categories regarding different aspects of your meeting or conference. This keeps the evaluation interesting, and breaks it up into smaller, less daunting sections. As with session evaluations, close-ended questions with a likert rating scale will return consistent, actionable data for determining what worked and what did not work. Some often used categories are:

  • Overall - questions regarding expectations, value, plans to attend next year, location, etc.

  • Conference Services - registration, meals, accommodations, meeting room comfort, helpfulness of staff, etc.

  • Content & Delivery - mix of session topics, relevance of topics, overall quality of speakers and keynotes, etc.

  • Decision to Attend - what marketing or communication influenced your decision to attend (very helpful in targeting marketing for next year).

  • Demographic Information - type of organization, role, ethnicity, gender, years experience, etc.

  • Future Meeting/Conference Preferences - suggestions for locations, speakers, and topics for future meetings. 

Open-Ended Questions

Most overall conference evaluations will have several open-ended items as well as a section for the attendee to give any additional comments they may have regarding the meeting. It is important to have a place where attendees can share their ideas and experiences in their own words. These comments, or responses to questions such as "what did you like most about this event?" or "what did you like least about this event?" will really highlight the areas that need improvement as well as the areas that are working well. Listening to your consumer and making changes based on their's a good thing!

What to do With All This Useful Data?

Plan to share and communicate the tabulated results and comments from your overall evaluation with key stakeholders, including program staff, speakers/presenters, and even participants. By sharing the ratings and sentiments with participants, you show that their voice is important and encourage response on future evaluations. This great data you have collected will help make your next meeting or conference even better!

For a more in-depth look at the conference evaluation process, plus several actual evaluation form samples, download our free Conference Evaluation Planning Guide. This helpful guidebook will get you started creating a unique, useful data collection tool for your next meeting, workshop or conference.

Download Our Conference Evaluation Planning  Guide and Start to Measure Your Success!



Topics: scantron form, Survey Systems, speaker evaluation form, conference evaluation

Conference Session Evaluations–Getting More With Less

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Jul 12, 2013 2:58:00 PM


Session Evaluations–Less Nets More

The easier you make it for attendees to evaluate your session or meeting, the better and more meaningful the responses you will receive. Trying to obtain too much information will most likely decrease the response rate and the "engagement level" for your evaluation. The best, most effective conference or session evaluation will have less than ten questions in a format that allows attendees to rate the session before leaving the meeting room. Try to limit your data collection to information you are sure will be useful.

Session Evaluation with QR Code, Scantron Forms

What Do You Really Want to Find Out from the Audience?

There are five basic types of information that session evaluations are usually used to collect. Using these categories as guidelines, what would you really like to find out?

• How effective/knowledgeable was the presenter?

• How useful/beneficial was the content presented?

• What is your personal reaction to the session (were you satisfied with it)?

• Were the objectives met?

• Demographic information about the attendees.

One well-worded question from each of the first four categories is all that is needed to make an useful, easy to complete session evaluation. If your organization also utilizes an overall meeting/conference evaluation, the demographic questions can be saved for that questionnaire. 

What Question Format Works Best?

The simplest and best question format for session evaluation forms is the close-ended question. A multiple choice, likert scale rating, or simple yes/no question format is better than open-ended questions on this type of survey form. Open-ended questions provide a flexible way for folks to offer up their thoughts and ideas, but they are also time consuming, both for the respondent and for the people processing the completed forms. Open-ended questions also result in a lot of unnecessary and sometimes irrelevant information being collected. A good multiple choice or rating scale question is quick and easy to respond to and doesn't require a great amount of thought. An open-ended comment section added to the end of an evaluation form will usually be utilized by less than 50% of those responding.

Getting the Greatest Number of Responses

The best time to administer the session evaluation is near the end of the session itself, while you have a captive audience. Allowing a short period of time at the end of each session for completing questionnaires should result in your session evaluation having a great response rate because:

• The form is short and sweet! There are only five or six items.

• The questions are well thought out, close-ended, interesting and easy to answer quickly.

• You have convieniently provided time at the end of the session for responding.

• The details of the session are fresh in the respondents mind.

• You have provided a box or envelope to put the evaluation forms in, so there is a degree confidentiality.

What To Do With All This Useful Data?

Plan to share and communicate the tabulated results from your session evaluation with key stakeholders, including program staff, speakers/presenters, and even participants. Using these results, you can easily see who the best, most effective, most popular speakers are. You will be able to determine which topics were a hit and which topics you may not want to repeat. This great data you have collected will help make your next meeting or conference even better!

For a more in-depth look at the session evaluation process, plus several actual session evaluation form samples, download our free Conference Session Evaluation Planning Guide. This helpful guidebook will get you started creating a unique, useful data collection tool for your next meeting, workshop or conference.

Download Conference Session  Evaluation Guide with Samples!



Topics: scantron form, session evaluation, speaker evaluation form, sample evaluation form

The Benefits and the Dark Side of School Climate Surveys

Posted by Lynn Cunningham on Jun 20, 2013 3:53:00 PM

 school climate surveys, scantron forms, survey systems

What is a School Climate Survey?

A school climate survey is an instrument used to measure the physical setting, human interactions, scholastic functionality and psychological stability of a school or district. Usually, these surveys are conducted once a year or once every two years, and the results are used to determine what changes are needed and what aspects are working well. Survey respondents can include students, parents, faculty and staff.

Benefits of Regularly Conducting Climate Surveys

Using the results of climate surveys, districts are able to:

  • Better plan allocation of funding, putting available resources to best use;

  • Pinpoint areas that need work, such as school safety and bullying prevention, learning environment effectiveness, or student engagement;

  • Determine effectiveness of faculty and staff performance (this can be a benefit, but can also be quite controversial);

  • Gauge extent of parental involvement with district programs and student learning;

  • Compare current level of student engagement with years past; and

  • Improve academic achievement.  

By regularly conducting climate surveys, the district fosters a sense of connectedness with the students, parents and personnel.

Then There is the Dark Side...

 School Climate Survey resized 600

I recently came across a couple of instances in which the School Climate Survey has gone awry. I am sure this is not a common occurance, but I thought it was interesting. 

New York Daily News, April 13, 2013

"City investigators are probing a whopping 21 cases of ethical misconduct on the annual schools survey from 2013, Education Department officials said Friday. Results from the high-stakes polls of students, teachers and parents are used in decisions to award cash bonuses to principals and close schools when scores are bad.

They're also used to award the letter grades all public schools get on their annual city progress reports. Department rules prohibit principals from attempting to influence the surveys, but that hasn't kept school leaders around the city from trying to game the system."

The article goes on to tell of a school principal who pressured teachers and staff to give her better ratings on this year's survey. The students were also "coached" to give more positive ratings on the survey.

In another article, the writer questioned the validity of the survey questions themselves. 

Washington Post blog – The Answer Sheet, May 23, 2011

"Too often, though, survey questions reflect a set of hidden assumptions about what's desirable, or inevitable. Moreover, they help to cement that view of education into place. The issues about which people are invited to express their opinions are most revealing for what's not being asked: the underlying ideological commitments that aren't open to question. The more we're asked to offer feedback about how well the school is doing 'X', the less apt we are to ask why 'X' is being done in the first place, and what might be done instead."

A commenter on the blog, obviously an educator, states that in his district, a consulting firm has been retained by the district and has introduced a business driven model to the surveys. This person states that, "the primary objective of the surveys are to create "smoke and mirrors" for the illusion of success. This comment alludes to the surveys having little to do with education or research, but are simply being used for determining merit pay. 

Use the Force!

This "Dark Side" of school climate surveys is, I am sure, the exception, rather than the norm. The information gathered from these surveys is invaluable when used to make changes to better the education being delivered. When greed, self-promotion or manipulation creep into the picture, this tool can be hijacked and cause the "school climate" to grow increasingly inhospitable. Thank goodness that most districts "use the Force" of climate surveys for good! 

Download Our School Climate Fact Sheet

Topics: scantron form, School climate surveys

Scannable Forms Design Easy with Concord®

Posted by Jackie Jones on Mar 20, 2013 4:47:00 PM


DATA BLOCKS offers a great software package that works hand in hand with Remark Office OMR® called Concord (or the Concord Suite). This software allows the user to easily create/design test and survey forms that are “plain paper” and scannable on image scanners. The Concord Suite has potential of substantial cost savings for anyone wanting to engage in data collection and analysis.

Cost Savings:

Scantron forms are “read” by optical mark recognition scanners (OMR), using specially designed machine-readable data capture software. OMR scanners are specially designed to detect and record which bubbles are marked on the bubble answer sheet. The OMR scanner has that single use, to only scan the specially designed and printed scannable forms. Although OMR scanning is very accurate, the forms design requires a trained forms or graphic designer, or special forms designer software like Magenta. If the timing marks and bubbles on the forms are not precise, the data cannot be “read” or detected. The scantron forms must be carefully designed and printed. These additional form requirements add extra time and costs to make sure the forms are printed properly. Copied OMR forms cannot be “read”, often time, the timing marks and answers are not detected at all.   Concord image scanner

Image scanners, on the other hand, are quite common—most of us have scanners (page, document, or flat bed scanners with an Automatic Document Feeder or ADF)—so no special purchase of dedicated equipment is required. The “plain paper” scantron forms can be scanned on most image scanners. Form design with the Concord product is relatively easy and can be completed “in house” by anyone with a little PC or word processing knowledge. Forms can be printed on your laser printer, or copied on your copier. This allows changes to be made quickly and as needed, and additional forms copied as required.

Once the forms are scanned (by either method), the data is collected and manipulated by the Remark® scanning, reporting and exporting data collection software. 

  scannable form designed using Concord software

Form Design:

As indicated above, the design of the OMR scannable form is precise and critical. There are rules for the image scannable forms design as well, but the Concord software makes it easy.

The Concord software EZ form wizard “knows” all of the rules and nuances for image scannable form design and incorporates them automatically into your form. To name a few:

  • Concord used special bubble fonts designed to meet the design requirements of Remark Office OMR and to make sure you have access to lots of different special characters in the bubbles that do not exist in regular fonts.

  • Allows 3 sizes (small, normal, large) of Circles, Ovals and Squares as bubbles.

  • Allows at least 3/8 inch between any text, lines or boxes and the bubbles.

  • Allows at least 1/4 inch between bubbles.

  • Makes shading, boxes and lines near bubbles very light.

  • Groups similar types of questions (true and false together, multiple choice together, etc.)

  • Uses special Barcode fonts with at least 3/8 inch whitespace around them. 

  • Allows at least 3/8 inch margin on all four sides of the form.


This tutorial video shows how EZ it is!


The EZ form wizard really simplifies the process. Simply answer a few questions in the wizard, and start entering your questions—or cut and paste the questions from other forms or a word processor (“real Windows" cut and paste). After leaving the wizard, using regular drawing tools, Concord also allows for graphics (logos), colors, and automatic numbering of questions. Concord has a Data Merge feature that allows for information to be taken from a file (variable data) and merged into the forms in the form of barcodes, bubble fields, (0-9 grids, A-Z grid, BCD or binary) or text data while the forms are being printed. Forms can also be serialized using this feature. Multi-language spell checker is even included. 

I downloaded the free software demo, and created a scannable form with true/false and Linkert questions in an afternoon. Quick and simple. I have no graphic design training, or any type of forms creation training what so ever. (We have experts here, I don't need to know how.) If I can do it, so can you!  


                                 Download a FREE  demo of Concord Software


Topics: scantron form, omr scanner, form design software

Health Risk Assessment Establishes Baselines for Wellness Programs

Posted by Jackie Jones on Feb 8, 2013 5:22:00 PM

survey forms for the healthcare industry, scantron forms

 All the rage!

Wellness programs/ wellness benefits have become the fastest growing category of employee benefits today. Depending upon what you read, anywhere from 1 in 4 (25%) to 4 in 5 (80%) employers offer/have wellness programs. The reasons behind this trend are just as varying as the statistics:

  • The projected promise of saving upwards of 20% on health insurance costs,

  • Reducing corporate absenteeism (purported to nationally cost 
    companies in the neighborhood of $300 billion annually), or

  • Improving the productivity of those employees who are on the job.  (Lack of employee “engagement” is professed to cost anywhere from $36 billion to $300 billion annually.), or

  • To recruit and retain (perhaps health conscious) employees; with the cost savings being in recruitment, replacement and other turnover costs. 

Programs vary

The wellness programs range from very simple to very intricate. Some companies have no smoking policies and offer smoking cessation classes; some offer healthy food options in vending machines and the cafeteria, or on site exercise rooms or equipment; some offer to pay portions of health club memberships; while others have comprehensive workplace programs designed to assess an individual’s health related quality of life, including lifestyle behaviors, compliance with preventive health screenings and protocols, and future disease risks.

The comprehensive programs all seem to follow the same format:

  1. Steps one and two are fairly self-explanatory.  If upper management is not “in-tune” with a “healthy” corporate culture-- promoting health awareness, the success of a wellness program is highly unlikely. Any successful corporate program needs a champion at the senior management or “C” level. Wellness (self-ownership or self-care) could be one of the company values.Upper management buy in, and leadership who will lead by example.

  2. Establish a Wellness Committee, or promotion team to outline the program, define activities and goals. Collect information-establish a baseline.

  3. Define a yearly operating plan, based upon the information collected, to include short and long term objectives with health initiatives.

  4. Consistently assess the outcomes; celebrating when goals are met and reviewing or changing initiatives that may not be attainable.

The Wellness Committee needs to be large enough to advertise and promote the program, plan and coordinate activities, measure outcomes, etc. This team also needs to be the coaches on healthy lifestyles, motivators and cheerleaders. Essentially this team’s objective is to keep the program going.

Health Risk Assessments   

Collecting information, or establishing the baseline can be achieved by having employees complete a health risk assessment questionnaire. (Google Health Risk Assessment Questionnaire, today there were 4,200,000 results—by the time you read this, there will be more, I’m sure!) In addition to establishing the baseline, the Health Risk Assessment (HRA) serves to promote health awareness by reviewing one’s personal practices and the impact of choices and revealing potential health issues that may otherwise not be considered, or at least that obvious. I was truly surprised at the range of questions/topics on HRAs.
Questions/categories ranged from nutritional habits, fitness habits, stress management, mental exercises, sleep habits, depression, weight management, heart disease, oral hygiene and flossing habits, seat belt safety and the size of one’s car, sun screen use, education and income, financial planning and “wellness”, environmental risks and even the circumference of one’s waist (not information that I would want to divulge!)—to name a few.

HRAs are presented in various formats—scannable bubble forms, online questionnaires, or “tablet” kiosks at health fairs. Scannable OMR forms are a great way to collect HRA information from your participants. Scantron-type forms allow you to collect a great deal of information using minimal amounts of paper, and are percieved as being more "confidential" when sensitive questions and information is being requested.

After completed forms are scanned, or the electronic data collected, the data can be merged. The participant usually receives an individual report with recommended actions of lifestyle changes, and/or a comparison with all the other participants from his/her group. The company usually also receives a summary report of all of the participants highlighting the health risks for that group, and where changes can or should be made.

Suggestions for change

Once the data is collected, it should be evaluated to determine the greatest opportunity for changes that can lead to health improvement. Reliable research has proven that people can change bad habits to good, and programs can be developed and implemented to help employees change their habits. This is when the health initiatives are defined, making sure that goals are attainable. Hopefully the committee has some creative members who can make these programs fun, challenging or interesting. 


And finally, any successful program needs evaluation. Completion of HRAs should be done at a minimum once a year—every 6 months would be better. This allows the individual as well as the company to determine the success of their involvement. Positive outcomes are a great motivator. These could also be indicators of:

  • Are the goals being met? Health Risk Assessment, scantron formsAre goals too low or too high?

  • If incentives are involved, are they working?

  • Are more support programs required?

  • Are the participants wanting/willing to change habits?


Any program needs to be assessed (and “tweaked”) on a regular basis to keep it current, relevant and successful.  

If you are interested in creating your own Health Risk Assessment, and implementing a wellness plan, the CDC has published a check list for implementing an employee program. (They use the word appraisal rather than assessment.) You can download a copy of this checklist by clicking on the button below.


                                              Download Checklist for HRA Implementation!

Topics: scantron form, scannable bubble forms, Health Risk Assessment

The Basics of OMR Technology - Is It Greek to You?

Posted by Nicole Cordie on Feb 1, 2013 4:19:00 PM

I’m sure most anyone reading this has probably filled out a Scantron-type form at some point in their education, but for those who might be looking to use an OMR form for a survey or test, this article will provide a little background on what OMR technology is and how it works.

Created by IBM in the 1930s, the first OMR sensor was not turned into a successful OMR test scoring device until 1962. In the early 1970s, Scantron Corporation made OMR scanning equipment for schools, to standardize test scoring procedures. OMR scanners are now available for use in many areas, including education, industry, government, research, healthcare, etc.

What is OMR?

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) is high speed data capture using a sensor light to detect marks on paper survey forms and tests. The OMR scanner has a read head comprised of 48 sensors, which shine onto the form paper. Marks are detected because they are less reflective than the unmarked areas of the paper. This technology is a very fast and accurate way to translate marks on paper into electronic data. OMR scanners can process between 1,500 and 10,000 sheets per hour. Scanners can be configured to read one side of a sheet at a time, or two sides at once (in one pass through the device).  

What is an OMR Form?

An OMR form is created by laying out survey or test information using specific parameters that insure the bubbles on the form align with the sensors on an OMR scanner. A grid system which usually spans 48 columns across the width of a page, and between 53 and 80 rows from the top to bottom of the page, is used to create OMR forms. All OMR forms have a timing mark track running down one side of the page. The timing mark track passes under the first column sensor on a scanner, and indicates the location of the “bubble rows” on a page. Usually, special form design software, such as Data Blocks Magenta is used to design OMR forms. This special software automatically places timing marks and bubbles on the page in proper alignment.

OMR Forms

After a form is designed consistently to conform to the OMR parameters, it must also be printed in such a way that the spacing and positioning of the bubbles and timing marks is maintained. An OMR form which is not printed accurately will not give accurate results when scanned. If the bubbles are out of position, the fixed light sources of the scanner will not see the filled in marks.

How Does an OMR Scanner Work?

OMR scanners are driven using scanning software, such as Remark Classic OMR, or ScanTools. Using the scanning software, a template is created to map out the X and Y coordinates of the bubbles, and to assign a value to each bubble. Once the scanning template is completed, the forms are placed in the scanner's input hopper. Rollers pull the forms through the scanner, one at a time. As each form passes under the read head lights, the scanner tells the software which bubbles were filled in by the respondent. When the OMR form passes through the scanner, the read head lights within the scanner detect the filled in bubbles, and a predetermined value is returned for each filled in bubble. The "scanned results" can then be exported to any number of formats, such as Excel or Access. The sheet falls into the output hopper, and the next sheet is pulled through.

OMR Forms scanner resized 600


Is OMR Technology the Best Way to Collect the Data I Need? 

There are several things to consider when evaluating which type of technology to use for your project. OMR is best suited to surveys or tests with multiple choice type answers. If you have a lot of open ended questions that require hand written responses, this might not be the best fit for your project. If, on the other hand, your suvey or test is mostly multiple choice items in which the respondent chooses one or more responses, then OMR technology is a great way to get responses from paper into electronic format. Unsure about which survey methodology is best for your project? Contact us. We can look at your survey content and recommend the technology that will best work for your project! 

Let Us Show You How Your Data Collection Form Would Look as an OMR Form!

Send your survey questions to Survey Systems, and we will show you what it would look like in OMR format. We'll design a free, one page sample for you.  

 Get a Free OMR Sample  Form Design!

Topics: OMR scan form, scantron form, scan form design

Scannable Forms = Better Results Than Online Course Evaluations

Posted by Gary Wilson on Dec 21, 2012 3:18:00 PM

Are Response Rates Valuable to Course Evaluations?

Many colleges and university are moving away from the traditional method of using machine-readable paper course evaluation documents such as Scantron forms to collect feedback information from students on the quality of their classes and the effectiveness of their instructors. The “in-vogue” method of choice is to capture this information entirely electronically using online course evaluations. The challenge presented with this choice is how to motivate students to take the time to provide this evaluation information while classes are either in session or after the conclusion of their classes.

Attempting to collect this information while classes are still in session could lead to skepticism on the part of students and their belief that how they evaluate the class/instructor might affect their grade. Collecting course evaluation information after completion of classes without introducing some level of bias is also increasingly difficult since most students have moved on to other interests. Students that do respond after completion of their classes might have a tendency to only respond to the online course evaluation if they have strong thoughts, either good or bad, on the quality of the class and/or instructor.

Are Course Evaluations Scan Forms More Effective?

Over the past decade Survey Systems has worked with several educational organizations supporting their course evaluation programs. We have provided both paper and online course evaluations and have found that the method using paper-continues to provide the greatest number of responses resulting in a far superior level of actionable information.          

A case in point is a recent project completed for an east coast college. The response rate for students completing a customized Scantron-type course evaluation in class was ten fold greater than students who were notified via email to evaluate their distance learning or hybrid classes by completing an online evaluation (See Figure 1). In many cases, the number of online evaluation responses on a class by class basis did not result in sufficient data to clearly calculate how students felt about the quality of the classes and instructors.

Figure 1:  Paper vs. Online Course Evaluation Response Rate Comparison

Response Rates








Paper Evaluation




In-seat Classes (349 classes)




Hybrid Classes ( 27 classes)








Online Evaluation




Distance Learning (40 classes)




Hybrid Classes (24 classes)





Customized Scan Forms for Course Evaluation Programs

There is an extremely strong argument for moving toward an online course evaluation system from both a timing and cost standpoint. The trade-off between these two methods; response rates with a high level of meaningful information achieved with paper-based course evaluations versus cost, immediacy of feedback data and extremely low response rates to online course evaluations that might not provide enough decision making information. Course evaluation programs based on the use of customized scan forms from companies such as Survey Systems, Scantron, etc. have become more adept at providing the following benefits for educational institutions that are continuing to use paper-based course evaluation as part of their program to collect student feedback information:

  • Designed and printed to meet the precise needs of an educational institution.

  • Coded to insure accurate class and instructor specific data captured through the scanning process.

  • Pre-packaged by course that can be either be delivered to a central distribution point or sent directly to using departments for dissemination to the classes.

  • Custom scanned forms that can be processed internally or by an outside source in a matter of days as opposed to weeks.


Most educational institutions would prefer to eliminate the need for a paper-based course evaluation programs; paper is bulky and hard to keep track of given the number of different classes that need to be evaluated. What is important is the data collected from the students concerning their feedback on the quality of the class and instructor. Over the years, providers of custom course evaluations have developed processes that eliminate most of the frustration associated with paper-based programs. Most importantly these processes have relieved educational institutions of much of the responsibility for managing this type of program and given them more time to analyze data and produce reports on the performance of the faculty and institution in meeting the needs of students.

The bottom line is that the use of custom, scannable course evaluation documents continues to be a viable alternative. Many educational institutions still find it necessary to use these paper-based course evaluations as they decide whether or not an online course evaluation system will meet their needs.

For more information and samples of the course evaluation process, download our Course Evaluation Planning Guide.

 Download Course Evaluation Guide  and Plan Your Success!




Topics: scantron form, course evaluation, customized scan forms