Whether you are creating an engagement that focuses on gathering thoughts and ratings from an open-ended question or running a more traditional survey, asking the right types of survey questions and organizing them in a clear way can help make things easier on you and your participants. In this article we will cover the basics of using survey questions, the types of questions available, and how to structure a survey for the best results possible.
Note: Not all question types and features are available for every account. If you have questions about your specific account settings or any of the features discussed below, reach out to your ThoughtExchange rep to learn more.
Getting Started with Survey Questions and Topics
Survey questions and topics (related groups of questions) are created in the survey questions step of the creation workflow.
You may also have the option to use a question template for setting up your survey questions, if templates have been created for the room you are working in.
Topics serve to group related survey questions.
To get started, first create the survey topic. Once the topic container exists, you can create your survey questions as described below, and add them to the appropriate topic.
Note: you can create topics at any time while the engagement’s status is draft or scheduled (including after you have already created the survey questions). The instructions above are given as a best practice.
To create a topic, click “Show all” to the right of the title “Survey topics (Optional)” to expand the section. Next, select “Add survey topic” and give your topic a title. You can add a description about the survey question topic if you feel it will help participants to better understand the survey question grouping.
Create new survey questions (or edit existing ones) and add them to the appropriate topic by clicking the ‘Assign topic’ drop down.
Creating Survey Questions
To create a new survey question click the “Add survey questions” drop down menu or click the “Select template” option to add a templated question saved on your account. Click here to learn more about Survey Question templates. Once you’ve added a new question, you can select the question type. To learn more about the different question types, please review this article here.
Once you have chosen a question type, enter your question on the line labeled “Your question goes here.” Questions can contain up to 400 characters. Response options are entered in the boxes below the question. To add an additional response option, click the plus sign to the right of the text box. To remove an option, click the minus sign. Response options can include up to 200 characters. To delete a survey question altogether, click the Remove button on the bottom right corner of the question box.
Questions not actively being worked on will convert to a read-only format (this helps the page to load faster). To edit any question displayed in this way, click the pencil icon to the left of the question number. You can expand or contract these static questions using the arrow icon in the top right corner of the question box, or you can expand all questions using the “Expand all” option above and to the right of the first question. To reorder your questions click and drag on the icon that looks like six dots to the left of the question number.
Note: If you have created branching logic for your survey, you must go to the Settings > Survey question branching section to re-order survey questions.
You can save your questions by clicking “Save as draft” (which takes you out of your draft and back to the Engagements list) or “Save & Next” (which moves you to the next step of your draft) at the bottom of the screen or by clicking the “Preview” or “Settings” button at the top of the page.
Note: Once you save a survey question, if you decide to change its question type you will be limited to other types that support the answers you've provided (ex. A multiple choice question can be turned into a checkbox or dropdown style question, but not a satisfaction score question).
Survey question branching is useful when you want participants to follow a specific question path based on how they’ve responded to previous questions.
We recommend mapping out your questions and branching logic before entering them into your engagement. It’s also a good idea to create your full question list before applying branching logic.
For in depth instructions on applying branching logic to your engagement, click here.
Types of Questions
The two most common styles of survey questions are demographic questions and opinion questions.
Demographic questions ask participants to tell you a little more about themselves. Some examples of good demographic questions are:
- Which of the following best describes your role within our organization:
- At which location do you most commonly work?
- How long have you been a part of our organization?
Opinion questions ask for feedback to a specific question. These can include closed-ended, yes or no type questions such as:
- Did you attend our all-company meeting last month?
These kinds of questions could also include a rating scale, such as:
How strongly do you agree with the top goal outlined in our plan?
- Strongly Agree
- Strongly Disagree
In a survey, these could take the form of an open-ended question, such as:
- Provide examples or insights on what could be enhanced to improve team collaboration and communication.
ThoughtExchange offers 6 survey question types, briefly described below. For a detailed overview of each question type, including how each works, when to use it, and how it is displayed in the Results Dashboard, click here.
Multiple choice-style question types
The set up of multiple choice, checkbox, and dropdown question types operates in a very similar manner, as noted above. Each type consists of a single question and up to 100 answer options. To save time in creation, these three question types also have a ‘bulk answers’ upload function.
Simply copy and paste responses into the “Bulk answers” dialogue box. Ensure you enter one answer option per row.
Likert scale question type
When first added to a draft engagement, Likert scale questions default to a five-point scale with the answer options pre-populated as follows:
The answer options are highly editable so you can customize this question type to suit your needs. To add or remove answer options, use the + and - symbols on the right hand side. To change the text on any option, click on the text box and edit as needed.
In Results, you can configure which answer options represent ‘favorable’ responses and a ‘Favorability score’ is automatically calculated for you.
Satisfaction score question type
This is a prescriptive formula that measures overall loyalty and experience. For optimal results, the question should be framed similarly to the default text, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”.
The answer options are provided as a scale from 0-10. Though you cannot edit the number options, you can edit what 0 and 10 indicate.
In Results, satisfaction score type survey questions are displayed as a vertical bar chart accompanied by a score that can range from -100 (bad) to 100 (good).
The individual participant responses are grouped into three categories. Answers between 1 and 6 are considered to be ‘Dissatisfied’, 7-8 are ‘Passive’, and 9-10 are ‘Satisfied’. A satisfaction score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Dissatisfied participants from the percentage of Satisfied participants.
Satisfied - Dissatisfied = Satisfaction Score
Comment box question type
There are times when you will want to ask an open-ended question as part of your survey. This question type differs from an Exchange question in that the answers given by participants are not visible to anyone other than the leader (and Results users) and there is no accompanying rating step as there is with an Exchange question.
The question prompt you provide can be up to 400 characters.
Participants’ answers can be up to 300 characters.
Deep dive question type
Deep dive offers one to three comment box questions followed by an (optional) AI-generated summary.
The appeal for this question type (over a single comment box) is the opportunity to allow participants to express themselves candidly and have their answers reflected back to them via the summary.
Include the deep dive question type in an engagement as a follow up to a proceeding question via branching or as a core question for all participants to answer.
Matrix question type
Survey question matrix allows you to display multiple questions to your participants at the same time (provided they are the same question type with the same response options) and lets them respond to each one quickly without any unnecessary clicks or scrolling.
In the Survey questions step of your draft engagement, click “Add survey questions” and select “Matrix” from the list of options. You’ll be shown a secondary menu and from there you can select the question type you’d like to show in the matrix.
As you think about the kind of questions you’ll show in the matrix (multiple choice, checkbox, Likert scale, or satisfaction score), remember they must be the same question type with the exact same answer options.
The space indicated with “Your matrix question text goes here”, is where you add your instructions for the following set of questions. For example, ‘Please indicate your level of agreement with the following questions on job satisfaction’.
By default, you are provided 5 survey question spaces in the section marked ‘Questions’. You can add or remove extra survey questions using the + and - symbols on the right.
One thing to keep in mind when using a questions matrix is that the more rows a matrix contains, the more likely it is that participants will respond to all the questions in the same way. If you’re planning to ask more than five questions in a matrix, consider breaking them into multiple matrices to keep participants engaged and encourage thoughtful responses.
Answers for each of the survey questions within the matrix are provided in the ‘Answers’ section. You will see there is only one set of answers to enter since all questions within the matrix will have the exact same answer options.
The Power of Survey Questions
Survey questions are useful in a few different ways. While your engagement is open, they can tell you who has participated and who hasn’t. Keeping an eye on the proportions of participants who have responded in different ways to a question about age or location, for example, can let you know which groups may need a little more encouragement or reminding to participate before the engagement closes.
If you've used survey questions in the context of an Exchange, you can use survey questions to dig deeper into your results. Several features of the Results Dashboard can help you make use of your survey questions data:
- Use Heatmaps to see how different groups of participants rated the major themes in your Exchange.
- Use Differences to see how participants agreed and disagreed on specific thoughts, then use your survey questions to learn more about the various interest groups that were formed.
- In Survey Analysis, click on an individual survey question answer to see how that particular group rated thoughts in the Exchange.
- You can even filter Thoughts by the manner in which participants responded to survey questions.
Note: Survey questions will not display results for response options with fewer than 5 responses to preserve participant confidentiality.
In both Exchange and surveys, utilize the Compare tab to perform cross-question analysis.
Tips for Writing Good Questions
One important consideration when adding survey questions to your Exchange is that participants are required to answer them before responding to the main open-ended Exchange question. That means that you will need to include options that apply to all your participants.
- If you aren’t sure whether or not your response options capture everyone, include an "other" option using the "Add 'other' option" button at the bottom of your survey question response list in the edit screen.
- If a participant could belong to more than one group, make sure you use the checkbox question type rather than a multiple choice or dropdown style question.
- If a particular question does not apply to some participants, include a “not applicable” option.
- If your question is potentially sensitive, include a “prefer not to say” option.
Only ask as many questions as you need. People will only be willing or able to spend a certain amount of time participating, and you want to avoid needless fatigue (especially if you're also asking an open-ended Exchange question). Always ask yourself: “Will this question add value to my results?”.
Your questions also need to be understandable and answerable for all of your participants. Make sure that you don’t ask a double-barrelled question (two ideas in one) like “How satisfied are you with your salary and job conditions?” because participants could feel differently about each idea.
Finally, keep in mind that participants can only choose ONE response (unless you've used the checkbox question type). Make sure your questions can be answered simply.
When to Leave them Out
If you are asking an open-ended Exchange question, it's important to think carefully about when to also ask survey questions. Each one you include takes participant time and attention away from your main Exchange question and, in the case of demographic questions, asks participants to give up some of their privacy. Avoid asking survey questions when:
- Your main Exchange question is complex and may require your participants to conduct additional research or read supporting documents,
- They will not add value to the analysis phase,
- Or the number of participants is small enough that the groups will only have a few members each (and you could possibly guess who shared which thought).
Still have questions? We’re happy to help! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.