Cooking skills blog 10: Finding out if your cooking skills courses are ‘working’: How can you improve your questionnaires?

Healthy Valleys graphic questionnaire

Healthy Valley’s graphic questionnaire

Questionnaires are a popular way of evaluating cooking skills courses. If they are planned well, they are a quick and easy to use and can be used for two different purposes, i.e. to find out:

  • What difference your course has made to participants (e.g. has it improved their cooking skills or eating habits?) or/and;
  • What participants think of your course (so you can improve it next time you run it)

However, questionnaires don’t work well for people with literacy issues and it can be difficult to make sure you ask the right questions. You also need to consider when to use them – ideally you will use a questionnaire before, or at the beginning of the course (to get base-line information) and again at the end, or after the course. This can help you ‘measure’ what difference your course has made. Evaluation Support Scotland has produce a short and helpful guide that includes tips on designing questionnaires.

Are there any good cooking skills course questionnaires already available?

Yes. But, it may be better to use these to help plan your questionnaire rather than simply copying them. Other people’s questionnaires won’t be any good to you if they don’t ask the questions that relate to the outcomes (and indicators) you have planned for your own course and they might ask more than you need.

Our cooking skills study group members are using their own questionnaires to evaluate their courses. However, several used the ‘Cookwell study’ questionnaire to help them plan these.

The Cookwell study (a Scottish community cooking skills research project in 2001) developed and tested a questionnaire to suit its research purposes and this is available for others to use. Here’s a copy of the Cookwell pre-course questionnaire, the post course questionnaire and instructions  on how to use it.

If you want to know more about the Cookwell study, several research journal articles have been published about it – here’s a link to one of the articles written by Wendy Wrieden and colleagues.

If the Cookwell questionnaire doesn’t suit your course outcomes or participants, here’s a couple of more visual and shorter questionnaires designed by our cooking skills study group members: NHS Forth Valley’s easy-to-read questionnaire and Healthy Valley’s pictorial questionnaire (also pictured). Please acknowledge them if you use their questionnaires. There are more ideas about how to evaluate cooking skills courses (including visual and interactive activities) in What’s Cooking in Scotland? Part Two.

In the next blog, cooking skills study group member- Gail Hutchison will provide some tips on recruiting participants and encouraging their ongoing attendance, based on her experience of what works.








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