Advantages and Disadvantages of Closed Questions in Course Evaluations

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of Closed questions in Course Evaluations?

This content was updated on November 16, 2018.

In yesterday’s post (Choosing Between Open or Closed Questions for Course Evaluations), we discussed how you ask each course evaluation question and points for best construction of your course evaluation questions.

Course Evaluations will use a majority of Closed questions (one or more answers selected in a predetermined list of responses) for many reasons.  Typically, Closed questions are used to get quantitative information about a course, program, or instructor.

In a Closed question, the specific answers are provided.

Closed Question – Named Answer with Single Response Which applies to you? Full-time Student______ Part-time Student______
Closed Question – Named Answer with Multiple ResponsesWhat was your reason for selecting this course?Major Requirement______Minor Requirement______Pleasure______Elective ______
Closed Question – Ordered Answer CategoryWhich applies to you? First Year Student?_____Second Year Student?______Third Year Student? ______Fourth Year Student?_______
Closed Question – Ordered Answer Category Rating Scale ReponseHow would you rate the professor’s knowledge of the course subject matter?Excellent___Good___Average___Fair____Poor____

Advantages of Closed questions in your Course Evaluations:

  • Easy and quick to answer
  • Response choice can clarify the question text for the respondent
  • Improves consistency of responses
  • Easy to compare with other respondents or questionnaires
  • Easier, quick, and less costly to analyze

Disadvantages of Closed questions in your Course Evaluations:

  • May not have the exact answer the respondent wants to give
  • Can put ideas into respondents’ minds
  • Respondents may select answers most similar to true response, even though it is different
  • Many options may confuse the respondent
  • Respondents with no opinion may answer anyway
  • Does not give information about whether or not the respondent actually understood the question being asked

Stay tuned for the next blog post discussing the advantages and disadvantages of Open questions.