Whether creating a new course evaluation or simply revamping an existing one, here are some suggestions and guides to consider when drafting your questions.
Tip 1: Beware of the AND / OR statements
Be careful to avoid questions that include “and” / “or”. When using and/or, it is difficult to see in the data if the respondent was answering the first part of the question, the second part, or both.
Ex. The course was interesting and intellectual rigorous: (Strongly agree – Strongly disagree)
Tip 2: Phrases to avoid or use sparingly
We recommend avoiding the following terms from your questions, as they can be too broad and potentially confuse the respondent, creating inaccurate data:
Positives: Every, completely, as well as always, all, all of the above, totally, often, frequently
Negatives: only, none, none of the above, never,
Obscure: trivial, too much
Their broadness and obscurity should be refined to increase specificity for concise and accurate results.
Ex. How often did you go to class? (Very often, Often, Sometimes, Not Often, Never)
How many classes did you miss? (Textbox OR 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 8+)
“Often” to one respondent may be “Very often” to another, so increasing the specifics will lead to greater reporting.
Tip 3: Leading Questions
When writing evaluation questions, be careful to make sure questions are not leading. Leading questions typically lead the respondent to a question and then force them to agree or disagree. For example, leading questions are often answered with a Yes or No.
Ex. Did you find this professor to be exceptional? (Yes, No)
Tip 4: Not Applicable Questions
We recommend avoiding questions that may be “not applicable” to all students. Rather than incorporating that designation into the questions, Campus Labs provides tools and strategies to ensure that questions are only shown to appropriate course sections or organizational units (see, Attributes or Building an Evaluation).
Tip 5: Phrase questions positively, not negatively
When writing questions, ensure they are written with positive terms. When assessing curriculum, we want to encourage the respondent to give helpful feedback based on their experience with the course rather than negative criticism.
Ex. This professor was available and easy to meet with. (Strongly agree – Strongly disagree)
This professor was hardly available and never around. (Strongly agree – Strongly disagree)
Tip 6: Choose response choices carefully
Include between three and five options for each question. We recommend beginning with the positive response choice and be sure to code and scale the responses choices appropriately (see Building an Evaluation). Make sure response choices provide all answers a respondent may be looking for and use a text box when necessary.
Whenever possible group questions together by the response set via matrices. If the survey is shorter and easier to complete, response rates are expected to be much higher.