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Asking questions in a survey

When writing survey questions it is very important to be careful how you word your questions. For example, if someone is asked, "How long is your commute to work," you might get answers that say how long it takes someone to get to work and if they tell you that, does the clock stop when they turn the car off or when they arrive at their desk. Others may tell you the mileage to work or the mileage to and from work.

Take a look at the vague questions below. For each, explain the problems with the question and find a more specific way to ask the question. Be sure to note what scale you would use for measuring each.

- What is your salary?
- Where are you from?
- How many times have you used your employee benefits in the past year?
- Don't you feel that enforcing a dress code at work promotes pride and professionalism and therefore encourages better job performance?
- How many years of college education do you have?

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Solution Preview

1. What is your salary?
This question is vague and subject to varied interpretations. Does it refer to monthly or annual salary and what currency is the question referring to?

Instead, ask this question:
How much is your monthly salary?

This is a ratio scale question because the responses can be answered by an actual amount and even an absolute zero for those respondents without work. Make it an open-ended question so that the respondent will answer it with the actual monthly amount in dollars. The actual amount ...

Solution Summary

The solution illustrates how to properly frame questions in a survey. It also identifies the type of data whether ratio, scale, nominal, or ordinal for each of the variables in the questions.