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Planning - Survey Assistance

Planning : Survey Assistance
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Office of Planning & Institutional Performance
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
AB5 - Suite 313
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Contact: Jacquie Toth
Phone: (239) 590-7046
Fax: (239) 590-7098


Survey Tips



It is frequently forgotten that the only way to get useable survey data is to create effective questions. Somehow practitioners hope that neatly laid-out survey forms, high response rates, cutting-edge administration technology and software, statisticians on staff, and good intentions can compensate for poorly worded questions. They can’t. They never have and never will. (Source: 


(1)  ONE QUESTION PER QUESTION.  Asking the respondent to rate two (or more) issues in one question makes it impossible to attribute one answer to either issue.  “Barreling” is possibly the most common problem with survey questions

Weak: When making assignments, my professor gives clear, achievable goals that are within my control.

Better: When making assignments, my professor gives me achievable goals.

Weak:  The instructor’s assignments and tests are fair.

Weak:  The instructor speaks clearly and/or is patient.


(2)  SHORT AND SWEET.  Response fatigue is a huge problem and a cause of bad data.  Obtuse vocabulary coupled with opaque verbiage correlates the corroborated hypothesis that terseness is preferential to multivariate queries; complex syntax comprising the numerous and superficial inappropriately skew the playing field. 

Keep the questions quick and lively.

Make the survey fun to read.

Use the language of the people.

Ask for only what you need.


(3)  THE MORE SPECIFIC, THE BETTER.  Ground your questions in specific, observable behaviors. 

Weak:  I am interested in my students.

Better:  I meet with my students individually to discuss their progress.

Weak: The professor is an expert in this topic.

Better: The professor effectively answered questions from the class.