Surveys are probably the most familiar method of gathering information. They allow you to compare or explain what your participants have learned, how they feel, how they act, or how they plan to act as a result of the program.
• Have specific objectives.
• Have clear, concrete, straightforward, unbiased questions.
• Make sense for your intended audience.
• Are appropriate in length.
• Are based on a firm evaluation plan
• Are reliable and legitimate.
• Are appropriately managed.
• Are followed with accurate reporting.
What is a clear, concrete, straightforward and unbiased question?
Since questions are the heart of the survey, it is important that you put thought into asking them in the most effective manner. You do not want to be ambiguous, or lead your participants in any way. For example, “What were the effects of this program?” is too broad and ambiguous, while “what did you like about this program?” assumes that they enjoyed an element of it. Further, asking a child a lengthy question often misses the mark.
More and more, people are turning to the web to design quick surveys that are easy to access via the web, and offer a chance for you to get feedback from a broad audience. You may want to check the web to see what you can find out about programs such as Web Surveyor, Zoomerang, or Survey Monkey. Some people receive many surveys via email, however, so you’ll still want to be sensitive to their time.
Retrospective Post- then Pre-Test
Many educators find that this type of survey is very helpful for measuring program impact. In this case, you set up the survey so that it asks questions about how the participant feels or plans to behave now and how they felt before the program. We’ve set up a sample survey as an example following an in-service for adult volunteers on engaging young people in garden planning and design.
When surveys are given, it should be a comfortable atmosphere. There should be an adult or older youth present to answer questions, especially for younger children. Allow for plenty of time, and the atmosphere should be free of peer pressure, fooling around, etc.
Here are some sample surveys for you to use or adapt to your program. Feel to modify the list of questions as needed.
• Sample 1: Post-test for children and youth (pdf)
• Sample 2: Pre-and post-test for children and youth program participants (pdf)
• Sample 3: Post-test for adult program leaders and volunteers (pdf)
• Sample 4: Retrospective post then pre-test test for adult leaders and volunteers (pdf)