4 Tutorials that teach Open vs. Closed Question
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Open vs. Closed Question

Open vs. Closed Question

Author: Jonathan Osters

This lesson will explain the use of open and close ended questions.

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Open vs Closed Question

Source: Survey created by Joseph Gearin, Image created from Public Domain http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Katy_Metz_cross_examined.jpg

Video Transcription

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In this tutorial, you're going to learn about the difference between open-ended versus closed questions. Many surveys have a combo platter of open and closed questions. Closed questions have short, definite, usually multiple choice type answers-- so your overall experience with the instructor, the course as a whole. And you'll notice there are multiple choice-- poor, fair, satisfactory, good and excellent, and those are your only choices. So yes/no or multiple choice are these selectable answer choices.

Whereas the open questions, are also called open-ended questions, are subjective. And these are areas where, on this particular survey, someone can click into this field and start to type things. So they're open to the interpretation of the person being surveyed. And they're also open to the interpretation of the person who's conducting the survey when they do the analysis of that survey. Usually they need to be analyzed by a person in order to really get the full effect from it.

Oftentimes, in the desire for simplicity, someone will give a question in closed form that really should be an open-ended question. So suppose that you are in a court of law and the lawyer asks, were you there at the crime scene? And she says, yes, and she's trying to give an explanation in an open style, and he wants it to be a closed question. He says, just yes or no, were you there?

So to recap, open questions allow for more explanation and they're sometimes difficult to interpret because they're not very cut and dried like closed questions. Closed questions are easier to interpret, but they're not always appropriate for the situation. So open-ended, some people call those "essay" questions, and closed, multiple choice type questions. Good luck and we'll see you next time.

Notes on "Open vs. Closed Question"

Terms to Know

Open Question

A question type with no answer choices; the respondent can choose what he or she wants to say to answer the question.


Closed Question

A question type with only so many different answer choices.