Garbage In, Garbage Out: Survey Design

We recently conducted a survey of our students regarding their use of technology in school. The results are in, but we’re finding we have more questions than answers! Where did we go wrong?

In most cases, when survey results don’t yield useful data it’s due to the design of the instrument itself. Writing an effective survey tool is easier said than done!

What steps did you take to create the survey? Development of an effective tool means that you take the time to:

  • Clearly articulate what you want to find out;
  • Select an appropriate rating scale and labels you can use consistently;
  • Write questions that work well with the scale and labels;
  • Keep the number of questions manageable so that respondents aren’t overwhelmed;
  • Edit the questions again for precision and clarity.

Once the survey is written, pilot the questions with a small group, usually 10% of the total survey group. This provides the opportunity to find and correct problems with questions before you’ve administered the survey to everyone.

Submitted by: Susan Brooks-Young

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