Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach Creating Survey Questions
Take your pick:
Creating Survey Questions

Creating Survey Questions

Author: Gino Sangiuliano

In this lesson, students will learn about different types of survey questions.

See More

Source: Globe, Clker,; Thinking Person, Clker,; Hands, Pixabay,; Question Mark, Pixabay,; Family Feud, Wikipedia,

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Hello there and welcome. The focus of this lesson is creating survey questions. We'll introduce the two primary types of responses called structured and unstructured. Let's take a look.

When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to watch on television were game shows. There were so many to choose from, Tic-Tac-Dough, Name That Tune, Press Your Luck, and one of my favorites the original Family Feud with Richard Dawson. The show has obviously changed over the years. It has had many reboots, different hosts, and the questions reflect today's society. But the one constant has been what is said just before the answers are revealed, "survey says--"

A great deal of thought goes into writing survey questions. You start by thinking of your purpose. For example, you should consider the topics and objectives of your surveys as well as the kind of questions you will ask to target your objectives and how to structure them. Once this information has been determined, the next step is to decide on the types of responses that you want and that is the focus of this lesson.

The major factor to consider when creating a survey is how you want to collect the data for analysis. The two types of common responses are structured and unstructured.

Let's begin by describing a structured response. When answering a question that will elicit a structured response, you are given options. Most commonly you will see things like true or false, multiple choice, and rating scales. There are some definite advantage to these types of responses. Since all of the data collected from the answers are similar, it makes it incredibly easy to quantifying compare. Structured items give the survey taker options to choose from making them aware of the possibilities available.

There are some disadvantages as well. For one, the burden is on the survey designer to determine the likely possible responses. Also in doing so, the survey designer can be limiting the possible responses, thus creating some limitation and as a result some unusual or creative responses would never be seen.

As you will see in the examples, it make sense to you structured items when there is a pre-defined or limited list of options or when you want numerical feedback according to degrees on a scale. For example, you want to find out from teachers how often they give math homework. The question could be, how often do you give math homework? Never, once per week, a few times per week, or every day.

Example 2. You want to know what type of writing is going on in classrooms. This week my students practiced the following. Choose all that apply followed by a list-- response to literature, narrative, persuasive, opinion, fiction, journal, and so on.

Example 3. You want to find out from your students if they prefer working alone or in groups. Respond to the following statements with true or false. I enjoy sharing ideas with others. I like it quiet when I'm working. I consider myself open minded.

Let's move on to unstructured responses. These are often referred to as open ended. Although all responses are accepted, there may be guidelines outlined relative to length and the nature of them. Nevertheless, unstructured responses can vary greatly. Usually these type of responses are presented in the form of a sentence, but you'll also see them in a few words or even a number.

Here a few of the advantages of collecting unstructured responses. You get a much wider range of possible responses. You are likely to receive unexpected or creative responses. These can often lead to great discussions and eventually solutions. You will get far more detail in depth from the survey taker's responses. For the survey maker, these questions are much easier to write since they don't have to anticipate the responses.

Some of the disadvantages or cons include, drawing conclusions from these responses can be a real challenge because of the variety of answers that you'll get. And some of the answers you get, although entertaining, may be way off topic or not pertinent at all.

If you're looking for more detailed depth and perhaps even some creativity from responses, you should consider using unstructured items. Here are a few examples. Number one, you want to find out what teachers thought of your presentation on formative assessments. You could ask, how might you apply what you learned today?

Example 2. After a visit to a model classroom you could ask, what did you learn from today's visit? And example 3, after watching this video, how does the information in this lesson apply to your daily practice?

So it's time to go ahead and summarize. In this lesson, we focused on the types of responses we can solicit by asking two types of questions, structured and unstructured. We looked at the pros and cons of each as well as provided some examples.

And here's today's food for thought. The next time you are given a survey, take note of whether the questions are written in a way to solicit structured or unstructured responses. For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, check out the additional resources section. The additional resources include hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including brief descriptions of each resource.

Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Creating Survey Questions"

(00:00-00:11) Intro

(00:12-00:39) Family Feud

(00:40-01:12) Questions and Responses

(01:13-02:01) Structured Responses

(02:02-02:58) Examples

(02:59-04:01) Unstructured Responses

(04:02-04:36) Examples

(04:37-05:20) Food For Thought/Summary

Additional Resources

How to Develop a Questionnaire for Research

This article offers seven simple steps for creating a survey questionnaire that you can follow when developing your survey.

Creating Good Interview and Survey Questions

This resource from Purdue University provides great, easy to follow advice for developing survey questions. Examples are included.