Darby, J.A., 2007. Open-ended course evaluations: a response rate problem? Journal of European Industrial Training, 31(5), pp. 402-412
Purpose - This study examines participant’s response rate on dual style training course evaluation forms. These
combine structured and open ended formats. Pencil and paper forms have a long history of use by trainers in
business and commerce and more recently in education. Research methods texts tend to have neglected the issue of
response rates with this type of form.
Design/methodology/approach - Approximately 2000 course participants attending 28 courses completed
evaluation forms. These were designed with a series of structured responses scales followed by a section for open
Findings – It was found the completion rate for the open ended sections was low and thus validity was suspect.
Various explanations were offered for this. Subsequently when a redesigned evaluation form was administered to a
further 1641 course participants it was found response rates increased dramatically when open ended sections were
placed earlier in the questionnaire.
Practical implications – Indicates ways in which course evaluation forms can be redesigned to increase response
rates for open ended sections and thus improve the validity of any findings.
Originality/value – Provides information about response rates neglected by most methodology texts concerning
the design of training evaluation questionnaires which include open ended sections.