The topic of survey development seems to be  popping up everywhere–AEA365, Kirkpatrick Partners, eXtension Evaluation Community of Practice, among others.  Because survey development is so important to Extension faculty, I’m providing links and summaries.


 AEA365 says:

“… it is critical that you pre-test it with a small sample first.”  Real time testing helps eliminate confusion, improve clarity, and assures that you are asking a question that will give you an answer to what you want to know.  This is so important today when many surveys are electronic.

It is also important to “Train your data collection staff…Data collection staff are the front line in the research process.”  Since they are the people who will be collecting the data, they need to understand the protocols, the rationales, and the purposes of the survey.

Kirkpatrick Partners say:

“Survey questions are frequently impossible to answer accurately because they actually ask more than one question. ”  This is the biggest problem in constructing survey questions.  They provide some examples of asking more than one question.


Michael W. Duttweiler, Assistant Director for Program Development and Accountability at Cornell Cooperative Extension stresses the four phases of survey construction:

  1. Developing a Precise Evaluation Purpose Statement and Evaluation Questions
  2. Identifying and Refining Survey Questions
  3. Applying Golden Rules for Instrument Design
  4. Testing, Monitoring and Revising

He then indicates that the next three blog posts will cover point 2, 3, and 4.

Probably my favorite post on survey recently was one that Jane Davidson did back in August, 2012 in talking about survey response scales.  Her “boxers or briefs” example captures so many issues related to survey development.

Writing survey questions which give you useable data that answers your questions about your program is a challenge; it is not impossible.  Dillman writes the book about surveys; it should be on your desk.

Here is the Dillman citation:
Dillman, D. A., Smyth, J. D., & Christian, L. M. (2009).  Internet, mail, and mixed-mode surveys: The tailored design method.  Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.