WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SURVEYS: TYPES OF QUESTIONS AND EXAMPLES

Edtech is an ever-changing landscape. Coupled with the constant shifts in learning behavior, learning managers and designers are faced with the challenge of making sure they continue to understand the needs of end-users.

This is where surveys enter the picture. Surveys provide insights on what end-users think about an offering. They enable you to improve and grow your offerings based on customer insights.

But surveys are NOT just about creating questions. It’s how you create them.

Good survey questions are hinged on your objectives and what you want to learn from respondents. So when you create a survey, make sure that the questions are crafted carefully. This means allowing respondents to answer with ease while enabling you as the survey facilitator to understand responses.

We’ll talk about this in more depth. For now, let’s read on...

What are the different types of survey questions?

Survey questions vary depending on your objectives for rolling out an online survey, as well as the kinds of responses you need. For instance, questions would differ if you want more objective answers, i.e. demographic information as compared to subjective responses, i.e. performance and likeability of the product.

Here are the different types of survey questions and a few examples:

Open-ended questions

If you want your respondents to provide a detailed answer, then use open-ended survey questions. These are usually in the form of a comment box and allow for responses that are not based on a set of single or multiple choice answer options.

Open-ended survey questions are best for:

  • Subjective answers. For example: what the respondents think about an offering.
  • Answers that challenge your assumptions. The popular phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know” applies here as open-ended questions may provide more insights outside of your pre-determined answers.
  • Conducting a survey for the first time when you want to collect as many insights as possible.

On the other hand, there’s a downside to open-ended survey questions, including:

  • Respondents giving vague answers, or not giving enough information/elaboration.
  • Having multiple open-ended questions - one after the other may be too mentally exhausting for respondents.
  • Responses from open-ended questions may be harder to analyze compared to close-ended ones.

Examples:
What can we do to improve our offerings?
In which areas do you think the product performed best?
What other products would you like to see from our range?

Closed-ended questions

Closed-ended questions are perfect for straight-forward responses. They provide respondents with answer options and are most useful for gathering quick bits of information. If you want your online survey to get objective answers, then these questions are for you.

Close-ended questions are best for:

  • Opening your survey with easy questions for respondents, allowing you to get to know them while allowing them to ease into questions that require more effort.
  • Analyzing the results through objective and straight-forward information, represented in graphs and charts.

Do NOT use closed-ended questions if you want subjective feedback or an elaborate response.

Depending on the type of responses desired, there are different types of closed-ended questions:

Multiple choice questions

Remember those “circle your answer” exams in school? Multiple choice questions are one of the most common types of closed-ended questions. They provide answer options that are fixed, and thus very easy to respond to. The downside is that this type of survey question only allows respondents to pick from a predetermined set of answers. Also, if crafted with leading questions, the answers may seem too biased. To address this, you may add an open-ended question as one of the options.

Example:

Which feature of the product do you like most?

  • User-friendliness
  • Accessibility/easy to find anywhere
  • Style options
  • Price
  • Other(s): ____

Single Response (SR)

Multiple choice may be a single response type of question, which prompts respondents to select one choice from multiple options. For instance:

Select the correct answer. FIFA World Cup 2010 was organized in:

  • USA
  • France
  • South Africa
  • England

Single Response (SR) questions may also be used for True/False questions where there are only two choices.

Multi response (MR)

MR is a type of multiple choice question that allows the respondents to select one or more choices from multiple options. While creating MR questions, you can specify more than one correct choice. By default, scoring of multiple choice requires all correct answers to be specified in the test attempt. If even one incorrect option is specified or any one correct option is not specified, there are no points given for the attempt.

Using Edubrite’s quiz authoring tool, users can also opt to enable partial scoring of MR question types by turning on the option “Partial scoring for multiple choice questions.”

For instance:

Select all countries which are in the North American continent:

  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Canada

Likert scale questions

As the name suggests, these questions use a scale – usually a 5- to 7-point scale – to measure the respondent’s level of agreement to a question. The scale is symmetrical with a median of 3 (for a 5-point scale) or 5 (for a 7-point scale). The lowest number normally represents the answer the respondent agrees with the least, and the highest number at the opposite end of the spectrum represents what the respondent agrees with the most.

Likert scale questions are best used when you have an idea of what the respondents think and just want to measure the intensity of their insight. This may be applied to customer service related questions or their satisfaction with your offering.

Example:

The service I have just received addressed what I was looking for.

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree

Rating scale questions

Rating scale questions help respondents provide a rating through a numeric scale or through symbols, i.e. 5-stars, smiles/sad face, heart. This is best used for determining your Net Promoter Score (NPS), a management tool used by many Fortune 500 companies and organizations to measure how likely respondents are to recommend your offering. These questions are also normally used for gauging customer satisfaction and soliciting reviews for products and services.

Rating scale questions are likely to be applied to customer service related questions or their satisfaction with your offering.

Example:

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the least satisfied, and 5 being the most satisfied, how would you rate the service you have just received?

  1. Very dissatisfied
  2. Dissatisfied
  3. Neutral - neither satisfied or dissatisfied
  4. Satisfied
  5. Very satisfied

Numeric fill in the blank (FBN)

This type is an open numerical response. While attempting to answer the question, the respondent is not allowed to input a non-numeric input; only 0-9 and decimal keys are allowed.

While creating an FBN question, users of Edubrite’s quiz authoring tool can add more than one correct answer. All answers are individually correct. And if the test taker specifies any one, they will earn a full point for the question.

For instance:

50 + 50 = ?

Answer: ___

Text fill in blank (FBS)

This is an open text response that allows for more than one correct choice.

Using Edubrite’s tool, users can add multiple correct answers, where all answers are individually correct. If the test taker specifies any one (regardless whether it’s in lower or upper case), they will earn a full point for the question.

Match Type Single Response (ST)

This question type involves matching two different columns to create a correctly paired answer. A table with two columns is presented as part of the question, followed by a matrix of possible matching responses. Each row in column 1 can be matched with any row in column 2. ST allows only one correct match pair for each row of column 1.

If each item under Column 1 matches with one or more from Column 2, then the question type is called Match Type Multi Response (MT).

Text fill in blank (FBS)

This is an open text response that allows for more than one correct choice.

Using Edubrite’s tool, users can add multiple correct answers, where all answers are individually correct. If the test taker specifies any one (regardless whether it’s in lower or upper case), they will earn a full point for the question.

Essay (ES)

Essay type questions allow an open response from the candidates, which can then be manually and qualitatively evaluated by the instructor.

Sequence (SEQ)

Sequence type questions provide a drag and drop option to arrange items in the right order. These types of questions are also referred to as “Ordering” type questions.

HotSpot Single Response (HSSR)

Hotspot questions provide the option to upload an image for the question and draw correct and incorrect areas in the image for an answer. Test takers can answer the question by clicking specified correct/incorrect areas.

In HSSR, only one correct area can be specified. If it requires multiple answers, then it’s considered a HotSpot Multi Response (HSMR).

Conclusion

While there are many types of survey questions, implementing an effective survey all boils down to how you craft your questions. Here are some tips for writing effective questions:

  • Begin by identifying your objective for conducting a survey.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t use elaborate language and put yourself in the shoes of someone taking the survey.
  • Veer away from leading questions, like “did you like our amazing service?” Feel free to add an open-ended question to a closed-ended one if it feels too limiting.
  • Mix it up. Vary your survey questions to make sure it’s easy enough for the respondents to answer. Avoid lining up a series of open-ended questions, which may be too tiring and difficult to answer.
  • Break down ideas into smaller parts. The same topics may need different types of questions.