Surveys are useful tools for original data collection, but it is imperative that you develop clear, unbiased survey questions if you want to collect accurate and useful information. A variety of methods can be used for developing surveys. For instance, many surveys consist of both open-ended and closed questions. Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer in any way they see fit. It is then up to the researcher to find themes and commonalities in these answers. To answer closed questions, respondents must choose from a predetermined set of response categories.
In addition to open-ended and closed questions, many surveys also include filter and contingency questions. Filter questions instruct respondents to continue to the next question based on how they answered the filter question. For example, if you wanted to know how satisfied homeowners are with the services they are receiving from a city, you could include a filter question asking respondents if they are homeowners. Those who answer “yes” would be instructed to proceed to the next question, which would ask them how satisfied they are with city services. If they answered “no,” respondents would be instructed to skip to the next question and proceed with the remainder of the survey. Filter and contingency questions are great ways to create a subsample for further analysis.
The phrasing and sequencing of questions on surveys also have a major impact on the quality of the original data that is generated. Questions must be clear and response categories must match the questions. Questions are usually sequenced so that “easy to answer” questions (such as age, etc.) are at the beginning and more sensitive questions (such as income) are near the end. The more questions answered by a respondent, the more likely that respondent is to complete the survey.
As you can see, survey construction is a difficult task. This week’s Discussion provides the opportunity to develop a survey of your own and receive feedback from your colleagues.
For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources. Consider the program, problem, or policy you are using for your Final Project. Then, develop a 10-question survey that could be used to evaluate the program, problem, or policy in the organization you selected. The survey should include both open-ended and closed questions, and filter and contingency questions. The survey should be appropriate for the sample that you identified in Week 4.