Best practices in writing course evaluation surveys

Example questions in a corporate course evaluation survey

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Posted by Greg Pope

Course evaluations make it easy to obtain valuable feedback that can be gathered and analyzed in order to improve future learning activities. But to get meaningful results from these evaluations, it’s important to observe certain principles. Here are some best practice tips for authoring course evaluation questions and surveys:

  • Use Likert or survey matrix questions.
  • Using the same scale (e.g., Likert 1-5) for all questions on a course evaluation survey will yield the most accurate and easy-to-interpret reports.
  • Use short scales (e.g., Likert 1-5 versus Likert 1-9) if possible to decrease reading and increase the speed with which participants can complete the survey.
  • All questions should be set up so that Likert scales have the highest positive number rating as the highest number (e.g., 4 = Strongly Agree) and the lowest negative number rating as the lowest number (e.g., 1 = Strongly Disagree). Using this pattern consistently for every question on the survey allows for the analysis of reports to be the most meaningful.
  • Generally, reports will yield the most useful topic-level information if meaningful groups of questions are located in smaller number of topics or sub-topics rather than distributed across a large number of topics or sub-topics (e.g., 3 – 4 questions in a topic versus 1 question in numerous topics).
  • Keep course evaluation surveys short and make them easy to complete: they generally should have about 10 – 15 questions.

In my next post, I’ll share some tips about how to get better response rates and high-quality data when administering course evaluations.

In the meantime, here’s a short tutorial on authoring a course evaluations using Questionmark Perception.

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