Learning and Evaluation/Archive/Learning modules/3Questions order

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The order of questions matters

After deciding your questions, you must combine them into a questionnaire. A questionnaire is not a hazard collection of questions but is a carefully planned sequence of questions. The questionnaire is structured to obtain information that meets the requirements for your program goals.
  • Natural Time Sequence
  • Most familiar to least familiar
  • Sensitive questions later
  • Easy questions last
  • Open-ended questions nearer to end


Typically, surveys follow the order below:
1. Introduction
Always explain the purpose and process of the survey before participants are asked their first question.
2. Participation measures
Questions about what type of program participant is upfront is often important for easing survey burden and appropriately guiding survey participants to the survey questions that apply to them, while skipping them passed those which do not apply to their particular participation category.
3. Knowledge
Knowledge of rules, regulations, guidelines, operational standards, information sources, etc. For Wikimedia, this would be a good place to understand how much they know about Wikimedia or their experience with editing Wikipedia.
4. Opinions/attitudes
Next, a respondent might answer questions about their opinions or attitudes about the program. For example, what types of opinions did they have about an Edit-a-thon or a workshop?
5. Recommendations
Recommendations are usually open-ended essay questions. These provide opportunity for respondents to offer qualitative information that might provide insight into a program beyond the scope of the survey questions.
6. Demographics
Easiest questions come first so respondents can ease into the survey. Questions include basic demographics start first, such as one’s job or job description, length of time on the job, educational background, general location, etc. Sensitive questions typically occur in the middle of the suvey, where appropriate, while essay questions happen at the very end because they might take some time.
7. Thank you
People are bombarded by survey requests more and more. It is important to appreciate participants who take the time to share their perceptions through surveys as it allows for broad data collection that would otherwise require much more time of an evaluator.