Survey Creation


  • To begin to create survey questions for your project


  • “Sample Questions” handout (1 per participant)
  • “Types of Information” handout (1 per participant)
  • Completed “Types of Questions in Survey Monkey” handout (see “Writing Questions” lesson in Investigate > Surveys)
  • Flip chart paper or butcher paper
  • Markers
  • Tape
  • Pens or pencils

Prepare Before

The process of creating survey questions will take several classes and can be quite detail-oriented. All questions should be reviewed, revised, and checked for neutrality and relevance.  Try to get input from colleagues at this stage for help and feedback in writing questions if possible.  If you are on a school campus and are giving this out to large numbers of students (or even small numbers of students), you should tell your school site supervisor and your principal to get them on board.  Sometimes they will want to see the survey questions and approve all questions. On the day of, write 1 of the following on each of the 5 pieces of flip chart paper or butcher paper: Demographic, Knowledge, Attitude, Behavior, Belief. Post these around the room.

Warm Up

List 4 things we want to learn or know more about from this survey. Once everyone has completed this privately, share answers with the full group.


Pass out the “Types of Information” handout.   Introduce the 5 types of Information:  Demographic, Knowledge, Attitude, Behavior, Belief.  Have them put the answers from their Warm Up into these 5 categories.

Have these 5 categories up around the room with room to write beneath them. Divide the class between these categories. For their category they should write what they want to know within that category.  They don’t have to write a question, just what they want to know (e.g., for demographic, grade level).  In the first round, give participants 2 minutes at the chart.  Rotate so that everyone goes to every category.  They should read what has already been written and add whatever else should be on there. When everyone has returned to their original spots, they should share the results with the rest of the group.

As a group, agree on the kinds of information you want for each category.  Eliminate, revise, or change what is on the sheet until you have a complete list.

Note:  You do NOT have to fill or use all 5 categories for your survey — it might not fit what you are trying to find. All surveys should have Demographic information on it but may not have all the other categories.  You may have many things listed in one category and few or no things in another.


Now is a good time to step back to the big picture. We should ask ourselves these questions:

  • Why did we pick this topic?
  • Why is it important to you personally?
  • Why is it important to this school?
  • What are we hoping to change?

Now look at the list of types of information on our sheets. We should ask ourselves these questions:

  • Are all these things essential?
  • Does this give us what we need to move further on our topic?
  • Is there anything on there that we are asking only because we are curious?

Depending on the answers to these questions, we may be able to edit our survey.


Writing a survey is not as easy as it seems.   It takes a lot of revision.   We have figured out the key areas we want to ask questions about.  Next we will create the questions, revise them, and then test them out on an audience.   We will also need to get approval for our survey before we give it to a larger group.


Review the “Sample Questions” sheet.   Break the class into groups of 3.   Assign each group several categories from the sheets you previously created.  For instance, one group might have all of the Demographic questions, one group might have 3 of the Behavioral questions, one group might have 3 other Behavioral questions, etc.

Each group should fill out the worksheet for each question they want to ask.  If you have sample surveys, make sure each group has a relevant sample survey to work from.

Once the group is done, they should merge with another group.  As a group of 6, they should share their questions/answers and ask for feedback.

At this point, you can either: 1) have each trio present their question and get feedback from the entire class, or 2) take all the sample questions, type them up, and have them ready for the class to look at in smaller groups the following day.   When they look at the questions/answers, they must make sure that the question will get at the kind of information they want to find out and that it meets all the criteria of a good question.