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Office of Teaching Evaluation and Assessment Research

Adding Additional Questions to SIRS ( pilot)

OTEAR is testing a new survey tool hosted at, with courses in SSW, SMLR, SC&I, and all courses taught in Canvas. The instructor of each course section designated to be surveyed by their department will have the opportunity to add questions approximately one week before their survey starts (see SIRS procedures and deadlines for more information). Questions must be added before the survey starts.

Adding questions to your survey is a two-step process. You must complete both steps to add additional questions to your survey:

  1. Create a new “Custom Question Survey” with your questions (this only needs to be done once, the survey can be reused in the future)
  2. Attach the new survey to your course (this must be repeated each semester).

To add your own questions

View as powerpoint (below), or view printable instructions


Preview the Item Bank questions.

Designing your own questions

The Student Instructional Ratings Survey is intended to assist faculty in collecting information from students about their teaching and their courses, and the statistical summary of responses are shared with the student population at the SIRS Results web site. Additional questions should be consistent with that purpose.

Remember, if you add many extra questions, students may not complete them, i.e. “survey fatigue”. You can currently add a maximum of 10 additional questions, however we recommend no more than 5.

When designing your own questions for surveys, you should decide what is the main issue to be addressed by the question. Make your questions specific. Each concept or idea to be addressed should be in a separate question.

When using structured questions, use appropriate scales with a “Neutral” or “N/A” or “Not Sure” choice. Failing to include such an option presents ambiguity to the students. Give them a clear set of choices

Be consistent with use of scales. The sirs form uses A five point scale. If you choose to use a different scale, e.g. seven point, then use that consistently for the questions that you design.

Open-ended questions should address one concept or idea at a time.

Don’t overuse the open-ended questions. This can lead to survey fatigue, unclear responses, or responses that are redundant or too brief to be useful.

Additional Resources on question design:



Please contact OTEAR (848) 932-7466 please replace brokenmail with with any questions or if you would like to discuss question design.


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