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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 143-145

Development of a new questionnaire to study students' perception toward online classes

Medical Education Department, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi, Kerala, India

Date of Submission18-Sep-2020
Date of Decision03-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance10-Oct-2020
Date of Web Publication23-Dec-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Unnikrishnan K Menon
Medical Education Department, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/amjm.amjm_60_20

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Medical education is going through a new learning experience of its own due to the impossibility of physical classes in the present pandemic situation. This article describes in detail the conceptualization and development of a questionnaire for the specific purpose of studying the perception of undergraduate students of a medical college toward the online education program.

Keywords: Medical education, perception, questionnaire

How to cite this article:
Menon UK, Gopalakrishnan S, N. Unni C S, Ramachandran R, Poornima B, Ashika M S, Sasidharan A, Radhakrishnan N. Development of a new questionnaire to study students' perception toward online classes. Amrita J Med 2020;16:143-5

How to cite this URL:
Menon UK, Gopalakrishnan S, N. Unni C S, Ramachandran R, Poornima B, Ashika M S, Sasidharan A, Radhakrishnan N. Development of a new questionnaire to study students' perception toward online classes. Amrita J Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Jun 4];16:143-5. Available from: https://ajmonline.org.in/text.asp?2020/16/4/143/304583

  Introduction Top

Questionnaires play an acknowledged role in the realm of medical care. The first author has written in detail about this earlier.[1] However, this survey tool finds use in multiple domains, as an easy, yet reliable, method of getting information and opinion. McLeod has stated that “quMedical education is going through a new learning experience of its ownestionnaires can be an effective means of measuring the behavior, attitudes, preferences, opinions, and intentions of relatively large numbers of subjects more cheaply and quickly than other methods.”[2]

Medical education is the bedrock on which the practice of medicine rests. This has been badly affected by the present pandemic situation which has put paid to the routine schedule of physical classes and teaching and assessment programs in the country. As a result, most institutions have taken recourse to online classes. Although there is a lot of literature citing the advantages of online learning, medical education cannot be completely dependent on this modality. However, given the inevitability of the situation, and the need to maintain teaching schedules, online classes have become the “new normal” since the last 6 months. In this context, our Medical Education (MEU) Department, of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, felt the need to study the success of the new schedule. O'Doherty et al. have cited the importance of medical schools and their educators being aware of the barriers and solutions to the implementation of this modality.[3]

The present article is a detailed description of the development of a new questionnaire by the MEU for the purpose of studying the perception of undergraduate students toward the on-going online teaching–learning schedule.

  Why Questionnaire? Top

Perceptions and attitudes are subjective constructs. As such, these are best studied by the qualitative methods such as face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions. However, as students are not physically available in the campus and since social distancing is a necessary evil, these options were ruled out. That left us with the alternative of a questionnaire survey. There are several obvious advantages of this modality. These include the ease of dissemination, covering the entire target population, ease of logistics and infrastructure, coverage of intended topics, and cost-efficiency.

Hence, the next issue was to locate a suitable questionnaire. Literature search threw up few likely ones, but none were specific to the present situation. They were either general student survey questionnaires or subject-specific studies.[4],[5],[6] It was clear that these could not be utilized for the intra-institution study that we had in mind. Hence, the decision was taken to develop a new questionnaire.

  Development of the Tool Top

The project was undertaken by the Medical Education Unit (MEU), Department of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre. All members have undergone training in the revised basic course in medical education, as mandated and mentored by the Medical Council of India (MCI). Four have also completed the advanced course in medical education, a 1-year training program, conducted by the MCI. The latter are familiar with the methodologies of quantitative and qualitative research and analysis. From among these, a principal investigator (PI) and co-PI were chosen to develop the questionnaire. The first author was the PI, with prior experience in questionnaire development, translation, and validation. PI and co-PI did the initial groundwork and independently created a set of questions. Personal experience of questionnaires and the intended objectives were the main guideposts for the bulk of questions.

This preliminary set was mailed to the other six members, who reviewed and revised it independently. At this stage, the main steps were correction of any glaring language errors and highlighting the questions that needed clarification. The group also had discussions over WhatsApp for refining the questionnaire. This was followed by a meeting of all the members in the department, involving group discussion to arrive at a consensus. The meeting was kept as the last step to minimize physical interaction. All mandated precautions were followed in the meeting. Following aspects were considered and questions were finalized accordingly.


  1. Multidimensional questions related to demographics, baseline information, and the primary objective.

Item format

  1. Demographic and baseline data as multiple-choice questions
  2. Primary objective as close-ended, Likert scale type questions.

Item development

  1. Short simple sentences (as far as possible), with one factor being addressed in each question
  2. Precise framing of questions
  3. Avoiding questions likely to yield an expected uniform response
  4. Sequence of questions arranged from specifics to abstract and close to open (free text). The latter was kept to a minimum, considering online administration and difficulty in analyses of responses.


This aspect was the big debating point with proponents for both a very detailed and a short quickly answerable one among the members. Finally, a compromise was reached so that the number of questions (and thereby total length of questionnaire) was just adequate to measure the intended constructs.

Administration format

The questionnaire was administered via email, as Google Forms, to be answered by the students, and returned via email.

A 20-item questionnaire was thus developed, which was divided into four sections, each dealing with a separate aspect of the construct. These were as follows: 2 questions related to prior knowledge of online learning; 13 related to baseline data, personal choices, and perceptions; 3 regarding the online assessment; and 2 about future plan and suggestions. Three questions directly targeted the primary objective, viz., satisfaction and usefulness. Of these, one was a scale question. The majority (17) were multiple-choice type, mostly with four options each. Two questions were free text, intended as source of feedback. All the questions were made mandatory.

Administration modalities were discussed. The options were to send the questionnaire on WhatsApp, on e-mail, or in Google Classroom. The latter was decided upon as a reliable method.

A Google Classroom was created incorporating all the faculty members and a trial of the questionnaire (Google Form) was done to understand the practical hurdles during implementation. Initial glitches such as difficulty in accessing the link and joining Google classroom were found and rectified.

We ensured that the known disadvantages of a questionnaire survey were kept to a minimum with the following measures:

  • Skipped questions: All questions were marked “mandatory,” and the form created such that one cannot submit without attempting all questions
  • Accessibility issues: This would not be much of an issue in the given situation of medical students with good levels of internet connectivity and fair knowledge of Google Forms

Difficulty with language and differences in understanding and interpretation also were not expected to be a problem.

  • Difficult to analyze answers: Open-ended (free-text) questions were kept to a minimum.

Trialing among each other and colleague faculty was done to check aspects of framing, readability, ease of responding, and access via online platform. No further glitches were noted. The approximate time to complete the responses was judged to be about 12–15 min.

A checklist was undertaken before the next step, to ensure that preadministration aspects were in order.

  1. Counseling about the need for the specific questionnaire: A short introduction was stated at the beginning of the questionnaire, which included the consent for the study too. In addition, the student representatives of each batch was contacted and informed about the study plan
  2. Dedicated personnel for administering and collecting responses: This was from among us, with one particularly tech-savvy person in charge of keeping track of responses
  3. Checking accessibility issues: From the experience of online classes, we knew that this was reasonably good
  4. Filing, documentation, and/or electronic records' entry
  5. Pilot study and inputs of the biostatistician. This would be the next step.

  Conclusion Top

This article has been an attempt to describe the process of development of a new questionnaire for a specific purpose, necessitated by the present situation of lack of physical classes for undergraduate medical students. It is hoped that this can serve as a guide and inspiration for other departments and institutions to carry out such surveys.

Future plan

The planned student survey will be done using this questionnaire, followed by publication of the study results.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Menon U. Role and relevance of questionnaires. Amrita J Medicine 2018;14:4-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
McLeod SA. Questionnaire: Definition, Examples, Design and Types; 2018. Available from: https:///www.simplypsychology.org/questionnaires.html. [Last accessed 2020 Jul 30].  Back to cited text no. 2
O'Doherty D, Dromey M, Lougheed J, Hannigan A, Last J, McGrath D. Barriers and solutions to online learning in medical education-An integrative review. BMC Med Educ 2018;18:130.  Back to cited text no. 3
Salbego NN, Tumolo CH. Skype classes: Teachers and students' perceptions on synchronous online classes in relation to face-to-face teaching and learning. Int J Language Appl Linguist 2015;1:36-45.  Back to cited text no. 4
Platt CA, Amber NW, Yu N. Virtually the same? Student perceptions of the equivalence of online classes to face-to-face classes. J Online Learn Teach 2014;10:489.  Back to cited text no. 5
Douglas J, Douglas A, Barnes B. Measuring Student Satisfaction at a UK University. Quality Assurance in Education; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 6

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