What are questions 1

Asking Correctly - Part 1: Choose the Right Question Type

If you want to be successful as a trainer, above all you have to know your participants: The easiest way to find out what they can do, what they expect and how good your training is, is through methods such as quizzes and surveys. In the first part of our “Asking Correctly” series, we explain how to choose the right question type - so that you really get the answers you need!

If you have already created a quiz or a survey yourself, you have probably noticed: It's not that easy! You not only have to know what you want to ask, but above all: How? In addition to the concept and the right formulation, the most important thing is the Choosing the right question type at. And that's tricky and time consuming.

“Questionnaire design” is not a compulsory subject in many courses for nothing. I'll shorten it for you and explain it to you the most common question types: What are single and multiple questions, scales and free questions? And for which of your questions is which type is best suited?

The 4 classic question types

If you already know exactly what you want to ask, the most important thing is to put the question in the right form. Which question type you choose depends mainly on the answers you need to achieve your goal!

There are a variety of question types for this. In the following, I will introduce you to the four “classic” question forms for paper and online questionnaires. For each question type there is a concrete example of what such a question can look like in an online questionnaire.

Tip: All examples are created on the blink.it platform. Would you like to create e-learning, training support or just great questionnaires for your participants? Then try blink.it for free!

1. The open question for individual answers

Open questions do not provide any possible answers. The participant can freely answer the question. An open question can look like this, for example:

This is what an open question can look like in an online questionnaire. An open answer field, possibly with information for the participant, enables an individual answer. // Source: blink.it platform

Important is: to formulate the question as “short and sweet as possible”.

Well suited for: Questions for which you do not yet know which possible answers there are at all. Or as a preliminary survey before a training session in order to inquire openly and individually about the problems and wishes of the participants.

Not suitable for: Survey or quiz with large numbers of participants. The evaluation of open answers then takes a lot of time and the answers are difficult to compare.

2. The single choice question for easy selection

For a single choice question, you provide possible answers. It is characteristic that only one answer is correct or only one answer can be ticked. Here is an example of a good single choice:

This is what a single choice question can look like in an online questionnaire: All possible answers are covered and each participant can provide a simple answer. // Source: blink.it platform

Important is: that there is a correct answer for each participant. If you are unsure whether you know all the options, enter an additional alternative such as “other” or “don't know”.

Well suited for: large groups of participants and short polls or quizzes, as the questions are quick and easy to answer.

Not suitable for: Topics for which you do not know all the possible answers or need an individual answer from each participant.

3. The multiple choice question with a variety of options

You will also provide answers for this type of question. In contrast to the single choice, the participants can tick several answers here. A multiple selection can look like this, for example:

This is what a multiple choice question can look like in an online questionnaire: Several answer options are given, in which one or more can be ticked. // Source: blink.it platform

Important is: to enable an alternative answer here as well. In this way, further answers can be added that you can use next time.

Well suited for: large groups of participants and short surveys or quizzes, as the questions are quick and easy to answer. In addition, a simple way of querying knowledge.

Not suitable for: Topics for which you do not know all the possible answers or need an individual answer from each participant.

4. The scale question for personal assessment

The special thing about scale questions is the inner order of the possible answers. There is a fixed order with two “extremes”. Usually only the two end points are labeled, as you can see in the example:

A scale in an online questionnaire can look like this: The participants can give their personal opinion in 5 levels. In this example with a “neutral” center. // Source: blink.it platform

Important is: the number of points in the scale! If you want to give your participants a “neutral” answer, choose an odd number (“3” would be a neutral answer in the example picture above). This is particularly advisable for very personal questions that the participants may have uncomfortable with. If you want a clear tendency with no middle ground, choose an even number.

Well suited for: the recording of moods, opinions and attitudes. Participants can present and grade their statements in a differentiated manner.

Not suitable for: clear yes / no questions, knowledge questions and questions about characteristics for which an order is not important for your evaluation (e.g. “How old are you?”).

Tip: you are already blink.it customer? Then you will find a lot more information and instructions on interactions in Blink here: quizzes, tests and surveys.

Conclusion: the question determines the shape!

As you can see, choosing the right question type depends on what you actually want to know:

  • Free questions give you individual answers from your participants, for example as personal feedback from your participants on the seminar.
  • Single choice questions help you to collect individual data quickly and easily, for example for demographic data such as age or professional position.
  • Multiple choice questions provide you with combinations of given answers, for example when participants are asked to select several skills that are important to them in the workplace.
  • Questions of scale raise opinion and mood and are, for example, perfectly suited to record the satisfaction of participants as a number (school grade, 1 to 10, ...).
Preview: In the next part of our article series “Ask correctly!” let's continue on the way to the perfect questionnaire for your training or seminar: We'll help you concept to develop and great questions too formulate.

Go to part 2: Plan and formulate good questionnaires

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