Every week, I seem to get a number of surveys emailed to me. These are academic surveys, forwarded by the school office, sometimes administered by the central support centres.
So why are they all so damn useless?
I always get about three questions in when they hit the "Which is the most important, pick one: A, B, C, D". Except I can't do A without B. Or they are so wildly different that it's hard to judge - yes, I spend longer doing A than B, but that's because B can be done quickly but is essential to do my job, while A is, well, essential if I want to do my job well. Which I do.
And then you get the "Rate on a scale of 1 to 5" malarky - which almost invariably has me putting 90% of the stuff at rating 3, one thing which is blatantly obvious at 5, and the rest at 1 because they can't be important as I hadn't heard of them.
Next is the "how did you hear about it" bit. Well, as "it" is a boring one day course I did a year ago, I can't possibly remember. But they don't give you a "I can't remember, it was ages ago" box.
The annoying bit is that these are all online now. At least when they were on paper you could just fill in the bits worth filling in and leave the rest either blank of with "this cannot be answered in multiple choice format" written across it.
But that's not the worst. The worst is that at the end of it - and the reason they're done in multiple choice and "rate 1-5" rather than asking for written opinions - someone will turn these survey results into numbers. And they will then decide that once you have numbers you can graph and plot, that means they have fully and comprehensively understood the situation. This is undoubtedly not true. These surveys are virtually pointless.