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Evaluation Tools - Open-Ended Questionnaire

Teaching Development - Evaluation Tools

Open-Ended Questionnaire

PURPOSE:

Open-ended questions provide a plethora of data about instruction. They should be used as sources of ideas, providers of detail, and pinpointers of problems.

ADMINISTRATION:

The first and most important issue is phrasing open-ended questions. The problem with open-ended items is that they can be phrased so that they are too open. In that case, the data can be of less than substantive value. A question like, "What did you like most about the course?" can generate responses like, "The professor's pink shirt" as well as observations like, "The way the professor used personal examples." However, questions can be focused in ways that make it difficult for students to contribute irrelevant and sometimes irresponsible comments. Examples on the following page illustrate that focus.

The problem of inappropriate comments can also be diminished by personally requesting responses from a select group of students. Clearly, the procedure of selecting students must be used carefully. Requesting input from only those students doing well in the course will skew the perspective in much the same way requesting response from only those doing poorly will skew it oppositely. The goal is a balanced perspective, identifying students who will give careful thought to the questions and letting any student who sincerely wants to provide input the opportunity to do so.

Open-ended questions are not well suited to hastily conceived answers penned in the final few minutes of a class. Encourage students to take the forms home and fill them out after some thoughtful reflection. Yes, some will never be returned but the goal with open-ended evaluations is the quality, not the quantity of the responses. Also, the quality of student response will increase if, they know the instructor is seriously interested in their input, plans to discuss the results with them, and is willing to implement appropriate alterations.

The next page illustrates a variety of open-ended question options. They do overlap, and there are too many to expect students to respond to all of them. Our advice is to make selections, revise (if need be) and assemble enough open-ended queries to fill one page, leaving five or six lines for each response. If the class is large and more than five or six of the questions are of interest, construct two forms, distributing the different versions throughout the class.

INTERPRETATION:

Data from open-ended questions are difficult to manage. If the class is large, the task is also time consuming. The assessments offered are never worded exactly the same way that makes tabulation an activity of approximation at best. However, recall what function open-ended questionnaires best fill--idea source. Review responses with that in mind and look for major trends. Perspectives on results can also be gained by sharing student answers with an objective outsider, like a trusted colleague. Ask the colleague what he/she might consider changing if he/she had received these evaluative responses.

SOURCE:

The attached questions are adapted, elaborated and revised from a set offered by Noel McInnis in an article, "How to Know What to Self Renew" in Implementing Innovative Instruction, published in the Spring of 1974.

INSTRUCTIONS TO STUDENT:

This evaluation form is designed to produce information about the instruction that will make it easier to determine what, if any, changes need to be made. Your thoughtful and complete response will be most appreciated. Responses that include specific examples and illustrations will provide the most useful data. You need not sign the form. Return it to the next class session or any time during the next couple of days. Proposed changes, based on responses provided here, will be discussed in class prior to their implementation.

EXAMPLE QUESTIONS:

  • What about the instructor and his/her teaching is most helpful for your learning? Briefly explain.
  • What about the instructor and his/her teaching is least helpful in your learning? Briefly explain.

  • When do you find the instructor making him/herself most clearly understood?
  • When do you find the instructor making him/herself least clearly understood?

  • When do you feel most intellectually stimulated by this course?
  • When do you feel least intellectually stimulated by this course?

  • When are you clearest about what material ought to be in your notes?
  • When are you confused about what material ought to be in your notes?

  • When do you feel most convinced that the course is worth your effort?
  • When do you feel least convinced that the course is worth your effort?

  • When do you feel most certain that the instructor cares whether you succeed in the course?
  • When do you feel least certain that the instructor cares whether you succeed in the course?

  • When do you feel most sure that you understand course objectives?
  • When do you feel least sure that you understand course objectives?

  • When do you most want to discuss the material in this course with your peers? instructor?
  • When do you least want to discuss the material in this course with your peers? instructor?

  • When do you find yourself listening most intently to lecture material in this course?
  • When do you find yourself listening least intently to lecture material in this course?

  • Which assignments/class activities are most relevant to course objectives and student needs?
  • Which assignments/class activities are least relevant to course objectives and student needs?

  • Which assignments/class activities are most helpful for you in developing a Christian perspective on the course content?
  • Which assignments/class activities are least helpful for you in developing a Christian perspective on the course content?

Click here to download a copy of this form.