Each of the Native Language Community Coordination recipients has identified a plan for successful completion of cooperative agreement objectives. Though some demonstration of success can be satisfied through the counting of activities such as the number of children participating in the language program or the number of individuals recruited for an advisory council, some objectives require a different metric for demonstrating success.

There may be a need, for example, to show the contribution level that the advisory council made toward developing a curriculum for credentialing language immersion teachers. This is a complex question that may best be answered by asking open-ended questions.

Creating clear and unambiguous questions are an iterative process with the first version of the questions likely being different from the final version. The goal of creating well-defined questions is so that the person answering does not have to interpret the meaning of the questions. Using our advisory council example, a first pass in creating an open-ended question requires that we do not lead the respondent to answer in a certain way and that she or he answers using his or her own words. The first question draft may look like this: “How committed was the council to completing curriculum development?”

At face value, it may seem to be a good question, although there may be some members that understand the word “commitment” in different ways. Some advisory council members may interpret commitment to mean completion of tasks, while others interpret it as consistently attending meetings.

Thus to assess the commitment of advisory council members in completing the curriculum we may want to ask more than one question about differing types of commitment, “What are a few words that come to mind when you think about how well the advisory council met project deadlines?” and “How would you describe the attendance of advisory council meetings?” and “How would you describe the equity of tasks assigned to each member on the advisory council?” Of course, there could be more or other lines of inquiry to assess advisory council commitment. The point is that a basic question about commitment may not be understood in the same way by all.

TIP: Try NOT to create questions in a vacuum. Share draft questions with others having knowledge about your objectives and activities. Maybe come-up with agreed upon concepts of what you are trying to assess and develop questions based upon these concepts. In our commitment example, we identified concepts of deadlines, attendance, and equity of tasks for development of our questions.

Happy question developing!

Jim and Gary