Survey Pitfalls

Pitfalls to AVOID when developing a Survey

  1. Beware of jargon terms that a limited number of people may know (Do you favor inclusion?).
  2. Watch out for “fuzzy” words that have ambiguous meaning (Which class is best?).
  3. Do not ask more than one question at a time (Do you favor tax increases and year-around school?).
  4. Avoid loaded or leading questions (Is it important to treat people fairly?).
  5. Make sure that fixed-response questions have a place for every possible answer (Are you a democrat or republican?).
  6. Use filter questions to guide subjects if all of the questions do not need to be answers (i.e., If you answered no to question 1, skip to question).
  7. Minimize the amount of writing the respondents must do.
  8. Put the questions in a logical order. Place sensitive or difficult questions at the end of the survey.
  9. Begin with clear directions.
  10. Field test the survey.

Del Siegle, Ph.D.
Neag School of Education – University of Connecticut