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Designing Quality Survey Questions

Designing Quality Survey Questions

Other Titles in:
Evaluation | Survey Research

June 2018 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Surveys are a cornerstone of social and behavioral research, and with the use of web-based tools, surveys have become an easy and inexpensive means of gathering data. But how researchers ask a question can dramatically influence the answers they receive. 

Designing Quality Survey Questions shows readers how to craft high quality, precisely-worded survey questions that will elicit rich, nuanced, and ultimately useful data to help answer their research or evaluation questions. The authors address challenges such as language preferences for standard demographic questions (e.g. How to ask about gender), creative question design to keep respondents engaged and avoid survey fatigue, web-based survey formats, culturally-responsive survey design, and factors that influence survey responses (memory, social desirability, etc.). Numerous examples of questions illustrate each identified principle of question construction. 

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Why This Text  
What This Text Is  
What This Text Is Not  
Who Can Benefit From This Text  
Navigating This Text  
A Note About Language  
About the Authors
Chapter 1. WHY Quality Surveys and Questions Matter
What Is a Quality Survey?  
Why Does Quality Matter?  
Why Do We Need a Purposeful Survey Design Process?  
Applying Design Thinking to Survey Research  
A Purposeful Survey Design Process  
An Iterative Process  
Discussion Questions  
Design Drills  
Extended Learning  
Chapter 2. Planning and Predrafting
Why Survey? The Importance of Establishing Purpose  
What Will Be Measured? Understanding Constructs and Indicators  
Wait, Do You Really Need a Survey?  
What Can Be Measured With a Survey?  
What Are the Advantages and Limitations of Surveys?  
Discussion Questions  
Design Drills  
Extended Learning  
Chapter 3. Understanding Respondents
Cognitive Tasks Involved in Answering Questions  
Respondent Willingness and Ability to Participate in a Survey  
Context and Culture  
Discussion Questions  
Design Drills  
Extended Learning  
Chapter 4. Sourcing and Crafting Questions
Sourcing Survey Questions  
Composing Question Stems  
Avoiding Problematic Wording and Question Types  
Open-Ended Questions  
Closed-Ended Questions  
Discussion Questions  
Design Drills  
Extended Learning  
Chapter 5. Constructing Response Options
Determining Appropriate Response Options  
Strategies for Designing Response Options  
Discussion Questions  
Design Drills  
Extended Learning  
Chapter 6. Special Purpose and Sensitive Questions
Questions With Special Purposes  
Sensitive Questions  
Demographic Questions  
Discussion Questions  
Design Drills  
Extended Learning  
Chapter 7. Finalizing Questions and Using Pretesting Strategies
Why Pretest Surveys and Their Questions?  
How Can Surveys and Their Questions Be Tested Prior to Use?  
Discussion Questions  
Design Drills  
Extended Learning  
Chapter 8. Pulling It All Together to Maximize Response
Survey Instructions  
Order Effects  
Formatting the Survey  
Contacting Potential Respondents  
Planning for Administration  
Discussion Questions  
Design Drills  
Extended Learning  
Appendix: Checklist for Quality Question Design

“This is a comprehensive, concise guide to creating quality questions that provides guidance and rationale for design choices that will improve survey research.”

Anne K. Hughes
Michigan State University

“A one-stop shopping manual to survey design.” 

Allison K. Wisecup
Radford University

Sheila B. Robinson

Sheila B. Robinson, Ed.D is an educator, program evaluator, and professional development workshop facilitator whose survey design experience began with assessment design in K12 public education. She is often an invited keynote speaker and workshop presenter at professional conferences, consultant with educational and other organizations on survey design and program evaluation, and adjunct professor of graduate courses in both program evaluation and professional development design and evaluation. Sheila is an active member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA); she is past chair of AEA’s Pre-K12 Educational Evaluation Topical... More About Author

Kimberly Firth Leonard

Kimberly Firth Leonard, MPA, has built, administered, and taught others about surveys for more than a decade, primarily in the context of program evaluation. Kim is currently the Senior Evaluation Officer at the Oregon Community Foundation where she manages evaluations of several large grant-making initiatives, each of which includes at least one survey-based data collection component. Kim is an active member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and was president of the Oregon Program Evaluators Network in 2013. Kim lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, their new baby girl, two dogs and cat.  More About Author