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Lesson Plan

And the Question Is... Writing Good Survey Questions

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patricia Alejandra Lastiri

Patricia Alejandra Lastiri

Villanova d'Asti, Asti


International Reading Association


Student Objectives

Session 1: Analyzing and Creating Guidelines

Session 2: Analyzing Survey Questions

Session 3: Creating a Survey

Session 4: Conclusions and Pilot Testing


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Gain knowledge about the main elements to be considered when writing a survey through research and discussion

  • Gain skill in analyzing survey questions by looking at a survey and analyzing it in both small- and large-group contexts and by evaluating the work of their peers

  • Demonstrate comprehension of survey vocabulary by studying, discussing, and applying it to their work

  • Improve questioning skills and strategies by writing their own survey questions

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Session 1: Analyzing and Creating Guidelines

If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, this session should take place in your school's computer lab.

1. Tell students that they are going to create survey questions to learn about reading habits in their classroom.

2. Divide the class into heterogeneous groups of three or four, and ask students to discuss the following questions displayed on the board or overhead projector:

  • What are the main aspects to be considered when writing a survey?

  • Will it be useful to learn about the reading habits of classmates? Why?
3. Ask groups to share their answers with the rest of the class. During this discussion, you can explain some of the relevant vocabulary such as useful topic, purpose, respondents, questions, and format, keeping in mind that students will learn more as they read the article about survey methods.

4. Ask students to access Creating Good Interview and Survey Questions. Tell them to read the page and then to click on the links in the grey box at the bottom and read those pages as well (in particular, the page labelled Surveying).

5. Have students use information from this site, as well as A Glossary of Statistics and STEPS Statistics Glossary to search for and write down definitions for the terms listed in Preparation, Step 3.

6. As a class, discuss what students have just learned. Record definitions on the board.

7. Ask students to use the evaluation criteria in the Survey Evaluation Form to write their own guidelines for the reading surveys they will create. Ask students to use as many of the new words they just learned as possible. For reference, see Example of Students' Survey Guidelines as a model. If time allows, have students complete this assignment in the classroom. Otherwise, assign the task as homework.

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Session 2: Analyzing Survey Questions

If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, this session should take place in your school's computer lab.

1. Ask students to form groups of three or four and share the guidelines they created during the previous session or as homework.

2. Allow some time for this activity, and then ask each group to share its guidelines with the rest of the class. You might sketch on the board the results of this discussion in order to arrive at a final and general guide for the whole class. Ask students to take notes and keep the guidelines for further use.

3. Next, tell students they will be creating their own surveys to gather information about the reading habits of their classmates. To prepare for this activity, students will work in small groups or pairs and will visit the Read On Reading Connects survey (found on page 47), which contains a questionnaire created by the British National Literacy Trust organization about the reading habits of school children. Ask students to analyze the survey using the class-created guidelines. Their goal is to discover what makes a good question for a survey.

4. Display the following questions on the board or overhead projector, and discuss them as a whole class:

  • What is your opinion of the survey you just analyzed?

  • Are all questions appropriate?

  • What is the purpose of the survey?

  • Think about the survey you will be developing, and decide what changes, if any, you would make to the British survey you've just analyzed if you were administering it to your target sample. Support your decisions.

Homework: Ask students to record in their journals their thoughts about what they learned from the survey analysis.

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Session 3: Creating a Survey

Divide the class into heterogeneous groups of three or four. Ask students to create their own survey questions to assess the reading habits of their classmates. Remind students to use the guidelines created by the whole class and the results of their own analysis during Session 2.

This activity will take the entire class time. Make sure all groups finish their surveys by the end of the class. Otherwise, ask them to finish them as homework.

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Session 4: Conclusions and Pilot Testing

1. Ask students to exchange their surveys with other groups and to analyze the surveys in the same manner they analyzed the one in Session 2.

2. As a whole class, discuss the validity of the surveys.

3. Ask students to pilot test their surveys within their groups. Students can respond to their own surveys or one from another group.

4. Collect the surveys and answers to see what students have done and ensure that they understood the task.

Homework: Ask students to write in their journals as they reflect on how analyzing survey questions and asking their own questions helped them learn more about crafting questions.

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Have students work through the activities in the Science NetLinks lesson "Bias Sampling."

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Monitor students’ participation in class and group discussions and use the Teacher’s Rubric for Assessing Students’ Participation and Survey Questions to assess what students learned about surveys and how they applied it to their own work.

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