Measuring Frequency on Likert Scale

I’m putting together a questionnaire for my survey. I was thinking what is the best way to let the respondents to describe their study environment. And I came up with asking the “how often?” question.

For example:

How often…

  • … were you alone while studying?
  • … did you study in silence?
  • … did you study in front of the computer?


Here’s why I ask the frequency and do not let people to describe their surroundings:

1. From the former studies I know that it took several study sessions to complete the first level of the course. So if I would ask How crowded was the room? or How many people were in the room? then the respondent would not know which session to describe. Some people would naturally describe an average situation but not everybody.

2. A factor can either distract you from learning or not (in the CLT point of view – something is either using your cognitive resources or not, taking your attention or not). Measuring the amount of distraction would be too difficult and more to the qualitative side. So there is no point asking “How much”. Instead I ask “How often” to get the amount of distractions.

3. I know that measuring frequency on the Likert scale must be done very carefully. But right now I cannot imagine having numeric choices – once a week, once in a lifetime, every other second. People took the course in different tempo. The number of sessions was different and the time span too. After all, some people did it a while ago so very specific questions would be rather annoying and the answers not reliable. Besides, I have “never” at one side of my scale and “always” on the other side. Only if everybody answer “never” to all questions can I argue that the environment had now effect to their learning.

So here’s my Likert scale (in Estonian):

  1. mitte kunagi (never)
  2. harva (rarely)
  3. mõnikord (sometimes, occasionally)
  4. sageli (frequently)
  5. alati (always)

I browsed through many examples but the language kicks in: the meaning of sometimes in Estonian (mõnikord) is rather less than a half. But I want to have an equal scale with a proper center. Still, since I will have to translate it back later, I have chosen the “mõnikord” (sometimes).

To have a numeric scale that is even by default? No, that would be describing time through other numeric scale that we are used to (seconds, minutes, hours etc).



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