Disadvantages of likert scaling

From another class thread…

Disadvantages of Likert scaling–
• participants may not be completely honest – which may be intentional or unintentional
• participants may base answers on feelings toward surveyor or subject
• may answer according to what they feel is expected of them as participants
• scale requires a great deal of decision-making
• can take a long time to analyze the data

I am a fan of judicious use of the Likert scale in surveys, but I found one key disadvantage missing from this list. Unless there is some kind of descriptive rubric involved, respondents may interpret the scale differently from one another, such that one person’s four might be equal to another’s 5… and still another’s 3. I have often gotten an all fives review for a course I know was sub-par… but perhaps it was not as bad as the last experience that participant had been through. Similarly, I have gotten 4’s from people that I know enjoyed and got a lot out of a session I felt was stellar, but in talking to them I realize that there is very little that would ever cause them to use a five rating… that they are saving it for something better than anything they have seen before.

Still, on the flip side, including a rubric of some kind can drasticly increase the decision-making time needed to respond to a question. In fact, in he CTAP2 iAssessment I’ve mentioned in a few other posts here, teachers used to complain that it was too long, at 45 multiple choice, likert-like, questions. Now, it has been reduced to only 15 questions (or so), but the detailed rubric now makes the assessment at least as time consuming!