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The Training Page of Volunteer Today has practical trainer techniques and activities to make orientation sessions more productive and valuable. There are also ideas to help enhance the professional volunteer manager's training level.
~ July 2006 ~ TopicsWriting Valid Survey Questions
Writing Valid Survey Questions
There comes a time when volunteers needed to be surveyedon the effectiveness of training, their experience with recruiting, or satisfaction with a volunteer assignment. Here is a sample of the type of question most often asked.
"Did you feel the training experience was a good one?" __________________
What do you know from the answer "Yes?" What specifically did the person think was good? The snacks? Trainer? His or her own skill level? The parking lot? By any measure this is a vague question and making decisions about training based on questions like these is dangerous. Here is an alternative to the sample above.
The training in our organization covers a variety of topics. We need to know if the topics covered helped you to do your tasks as a volunteer. In the list below rate your assessment of your own skill level when you left the training session. Please check the box that most closely applies to your assessment.
The survey would likely go on to include specific details of the types of things volunteers actually do. Each topic covered is now measurable, can be quantified, can be measured over several years of training, could easily be put into a database, and provides "hard" evidence of the need for change or where things are just fine.
Drafting questions for valuable surveys is a skill that can be improved with some practice (and field testing). Here are some tips to help you improve your survey question writing skills.
A word about forced choice or open response questions.
A forced choice question is one where the answers are predetermined by the person writing the survey or where one of 3 6 categories are listed for choice. An open-ended question is one where there is no response categorization by the writer of the survey.
Forced Choice: "Do you feel every volunteer should take training on confidentiality?"
Open Choice: "Do you feel every volunteer should take training on confidentiality?"
Open-ended questions require a more complex coding system, and are more time consuming for the respondent as well as the tabulator of the data. Each response must be analyzed individually and then categorized for coding.
Using a combination of Forced Choice and Open Choice can aid in response reliability and a richness in the information gathered.
Want more ideas for training? Check out our online bookstore for Handling Problem Volunteers by Steve McCurley and Sue Vineyard.
COLLEGE PROGRAMS ON NONPROFIT AND VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT
Close to 200 colleges and universities offer academic programs on nonprofit and volunteer sector management. They are usually master's degree programs, but not always. American Humanics sponsors undergraduate programs, as well. If you are looking to push out the professional development window, consider taking a course at one of these colleges. A full list resides at http://tltc.shu.edu/npo/. Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list.
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