So, You Think You Know How to Create a Survey?

Posted: February 27, 2012 in JN 553
Tags: , , , ,

In my assessing community journalism class here at the University of Alabama, we are developing a survey for students, faculty and staff, and alumni to assess the College of Communication and Information Sciences website. We are also implementing Google Analytics in our study to help the department determine things about their traffic and what improvements or adjustments should be made in terms of content and multimedia.

Today’s class was definitely an eye-opener. I’ve taken many surveys online, at shopping malls, over the phone, and through the mail. I’ve also read tons of material as a graduate student on surveys, but you don’t quite get how difficult it is until you try to create one on your own. There are so many things to consider. You have to take your own goals and purposes of the survey into consideration, as well as length, types of questions, bias, question order, and answer choices. If you want it be short so people will be interested in taking it, you also have to take into account that it needs to include every possibility. You always have to be mindful of the people you’re aiming at taking the survey, unless it’s a random sample. It’s a lot more to it than agree or disagree or rate this on a scale of 1-5.

The thing I find most difficult in creating surveys are the questions. A successful question should be concise yet thorough. Sometimes when I try to be too specific, it ends up being too complex for the respondent. Depending on how you ask a question, the answers can be very vague. So, there’s a fine line between getting at what you want but also not appearing biased. Now, you have so many options other than mail or telephone surveys. There are online surveys. Even the method or instrument you decide to use with the survey dictates the questions. Obviously, you want to design questions differently for the web than in print or over the phone. Surveys are definitely helpful for research, but they are far from easy. What do you find most challenging about creating surveys or taking them?

Here’s a great resource site I found that gives helpful tips and techniques when creating a survey.

  1. christicowan says:

    It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I think it turned out really great. I put everything into Survey Monkey yesterday, so I guess yall will see it Monday. I don’t think I could write a survey on my own, because that back-and-forth of everyone’s opinion was really helpful for me to see why some things worked and some didn’t.

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