Survey Structure Quiz
Test Your Knowledge of Survey Structure
Surveys should be structured in a way that encourages responses, use a rating scale that delivers unbiased data, contain enough questions to allow analyses to be run, along with several other factors.
Test your knowledge by answering the questions below.
What is the first and most important step in any research study?
Clients should be interviewed as to their reasons for conducting the research and their goals for the study. The process of selecting survey questions can then take several forms, as some new clients have previous questions they would like to have reviewed so that they may continue using them in whole or part to preserve historical data. Some clients have never surveyed before and are beginning 'from scratch,' while others have a very particular focus for their survey, such as Corporate Values, and are not interested in broader feedback. Client input is used by an Organizational Psychologist to modify a robust question database of the most common issues facing employee, customer, or market populations (depending upon the type of research being conducted), and this is provided as a starting point in developing each custom question database. The design of the survey and the deployment methodology are often determined by the question database.
Does the wording of a survey question influence the answer?
The wording of a survey question strongly influences the answer! Poorly worded survey questions can be polarizing, double-barreled, ambiguous, wordy, mini-messages, and more, which can render your collected data inaccurate or useless.
Should surveys rate:
By far the most popular scale asks respondents to rate their agreement with the survey questions or statements. Agreement is the most reliable measure of attitudes, opinions, and beliefs in most types of research.
How many levels of rating should be included in a survey scale?
Decades of psychological research has shown that a 6-point scale with three levels of agreement and three levels of disagreement works best.
Should there be a neutral or "I don't know" point in the rating scale?
Surveys created by trained researchers will not contain a 'neutral' or 'I don't know' point in the rating scale. Including a neutral point can have a negative impact on your survey results, and there is a financial reason for not doing so, as well. First, we know that people harbor opinions about virtually everything, including things on which they think they have no opinion. The President of one survey consulting firm suggested that we consider "vanilla ice cream", as an example, in defense of their use of a neutral point. He expected us to be neutral about it. But we were not. We said we liked vanilla ice cream. When people are encouraged to make a selection, one way or the other, they are able to do so, whether it is like/dislike or agree/disagree, even if they lean that way only "slightly". Providing them with a "no brain" option only allows them an escape route from having to think, and costs you data. With a 5-point scale (two positive, two negative, and one neutral), each point represents 20% of your data. If one of those points is "I don't know", you could throw away up to 20% of your total survey dollars on no information at all. It is best to direct respondents in the instructions to skip questions that don't pertain to them, and better still to not have irrelevant questions on the survey in the first place!
How should the survey be laid out?
Demographic questions (if needed) should be asked before the survey questions begin because branching and skip logic is often brought into play by the answers to demographic questions.
Is there a limit to the number of questions that should be included in a survey?
Experience has taught us that 20 questions for a customer survey and 60 questions for an employee survey is the right balance between the need to collect enough data to insure your analyses are valid and the time a customer or employee are willing to spend answering survey questions. Surveys that are too long produce a poor response rate and a high item non-response rate. Surveys that are too short do not collect enough data to accurately drive your analyses and post-survey action planning.
Should open-ended questions be included in the survey design?
Including open-ended questions on your survey can be beneficial for several reasons. First, the responses provide context — in the respondents’ own words — for the answers you receive to close-ended questions. Second, the answers can be used to improve future surveys by identifying topics or questions that were left off of the current survey.
How do you know if your overall survey scores are high or low?
Benchmarking is the only means by which one is able to judge whether a score is high or low, good or bad. Although the mean score of responses to two different survey questions ('I am satisfied with my compensation' and 'My supervisor keeps me informed') are identical at 3.99, when compared with scores from other people, one might be a high score, and one might be a low score. No matter what the survey question, benchmarking data provides users with hard, objective scores that are not subject to interpretation. Benchmarking scores provide Management with definitive information about differences between departments, demographics, organizations, industries, or any other grouping of survey data, and remains the only way to truly understand the meaning of survey scores. Percentages, such as percent favorable, are the most unreliable way of expressing any data set.
In what order should the questions be placed on the survey?
Questions should be arranged in a random order for Employee Surveys so that the answer to one question does not bias the response to questions that follow. Questions should be arranged by Topic on a Customer Survey so that the respondents can think their way through the experience as they are completing the survey. Example: if customers will interact with a telephone receptionist first and then a sales representative, then the questions should be arranged by those topics and in that order.