Do you like me?
Hands shaking, my son, Tano, handed me the crumpled piece of yellow paper (photographic evidence included here) on which was scrawled this survey question (minus the question mark). The note was passed to him by a go-between on behalf of Aliyah (the class’ best artist), who has been leaving drawings in Tano’s cubby for the past couple of weeks.
“Mom, I don’t know what to do.”
“Well, Tano, do you like her?”
“I like her but I don’t like, like her, you know? Mom, I’m a fourth grader; I’m not ready for a relationship!”
He didn’t just check the “No” box and send it back (although that would have been the easy thing to do) because he didn’t want to hurt Aliyah’s feelings. He has a sister, and he said he thinks of every girl “as somebody’s sister” (good boy!). So, how to let her down easy and still be honest? That’s the question he posed to me. We settled on the truth: He does think she is cool, but he isn’t “ready for a relationship.”
Why am I sharing this story of unrequited puppy love? It’s because Tano said something that made me think of you. Puzzling over the yellow paper, he said, “The right answer isn’t here. It’s more complicated than yes or no.” And that reminded me of two things. First, that this week marks the return of our weekly survey (see below). And second, how difficult it can be to write really good survey questions…the kind that elicit the truth, not just an answer.
According to DRI Director of Education, Gary Villeneuve, closed-ended survey questions have their place and are an essential BIA tool. However, DRI recommends “a combination of surveys, interviews, and workshop sessions” to ensure that you’re finding out what you really need to know.
Tano did conduct a follow-up “interview” and did his best to let his admirer down easy. Too easy, perhaps. The drawings are still arriving with alarming regularity and all of the animals depicted have hearts for eyes.
May your surveys go smoothly!