Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education



Terrie Nolinske

Date of this Version


Document Type



To Improve the Academy, published by the Professional and Organizational

Development Network in Higher Education, volume 17, 1998.


Questionnaires are used by faculty developers, administrators, faculty, and students in higher education to assess need, conduct research, and evaluate teaching or learning. While used often, questionnaires may be the most misused method of collecting information, due to the potential for sampling error and nonsampling error, which includes questionnaire design, sample selection, nonresponse, wording, social desirability, recall, format, order, and context effects. This article offers methods and strategies to minimize these errors during questionnaire development, discusses the importance of pilot-testing questionnaires, and underscores the importance of an ethical approach to the process. Examples relevant to higher education illustrate key points.