Guide to… online self-assessment questionnaires

Dr
Peter Honey, an authority on learning and behaviour, and best known for Honey
and Mumford’s The Learning Styles Questionnaire, has put together a 10-point
plan to help you choose an online questionnaire. He advises:

Be
clear about purpose

If
you want to use a questionnaire as a selection or a development tool, ensure
the diagnostic form is both relevant and accurate. However, it is more
important to be satisfied the diagnostic is designed as a practical development
tool.

Transparent
behaviours

The
most useful self-assessment questionnaires focus on overt behaviour – what
someone actually says and does. This is far less threatening and more
straightforward than psychometrics. Psychometrics also require a qualified
professional to interpret the results, whereas self-assessment questionnaires
are self-scoring/interpreting.

Focus
on positives

Concentrate
on ‘desirable’ behaviours rather than negatives. This makes it more likely that
someone will do an honest self-assessment, and means the checklist of
behaviours can act as a ‘role-model’.

Use
a frequency scale

Forms
shouldn’t ask someone how good or bad, skilled or unskilled they are. Instead,
they should offer a more neutral frequency scale, such as ‘I often do this’, ‘I
sometimes do this’, ‘I rarely do this’.

Keep
it short

The
best self-assessment questionnaires explore a topic (eg time management or
delegation) thoroughly with a checklist of 40-50 behavioural items (there are
exceptions – the most popular version of the Learning Styles Questionnaire has
80). Typically, this takes a maximum of 15 minutes to complete – any longer,
and people experience ‘diagnostic fatigue’ and become slapdash with their
responses.

Bite-sized
chunks

Topics
should be sub-divided into constituent parts and give a score for each –
‘assertiveness’ might offer scores for ‘safeguarding your rights’, ‘being
forthright’, and so on. Each of these factors should be clearly defined, and
the score for each based on someone’s responses to at least eight questionnaire
items.

Go
for self-scoring

The
most useful self-assessment questionnaires offer a simple scoring system
carried out automatically online, and a straightforward way to understand the
results.

Encourage
action

Diagnostics
are designed to tip someone into action, so that they go on to do something
better – or differently – as a consequence of completing the
questionnaire.  The feedback should
include not only a result, but also some suggestions for action.

360-degree
feedback

Make
it easy for someone to gather perceptions from close colleagues.
Self-assessment, enriched with some 360-degree feedback, creates a potent
development tool.

Make
them user-friendly

The
best questionnaires are simple and practical, avoid jargon, are easy-to-follow
and trust users to be honest with their responses. Check a questionnaire by
doing it yourself first.

Peter
Honey Publications website can be found at www.peterhoney.com

News
in brief…

The
four NHS Trusts in the Shropshire region are installing an online benefits
system that gives staff free access to more than 130 companies that are
discounting their products for NHS staff. NHSDiscounts.com is being promoted to
9,785 staff through payslip inserts, e-mail bulletins and staff newsletters.

New
products…

The
3Com 3102 Business Phone is one of the first Internet Protocol (IP) desktop
phones, and supports the emerging wideband audio standards which give enhanced
voice quality and clarity. www.3com.com

Watson
Wyatt is launching a new service to help organisations in their selection of
flexible benefit delivery systems. It works with clients to match their needs
and generates a shortlist of systems.

www.watsonwyatt.com

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