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I'm currently putting together a screener to prepare for usability testing. This software will be used globally. I'd like to ask for the highest level of education and have the participants select from a list so that the analytics are cleaner than using an open text field.

The problem I foresee is that different levels of educational institutions do not map to each other across geographies.

The way I would as this question in the United States is:

What is the highest level of education you have completed?

  • Some high school
  • High school graduate
  • Some college
  • Trade/Technical/Vocational training
  • Some postgraduate work
  • Postgraduate degree

Is there a good way to generalize this question for a clearer, although inexact response?

  • Associates? Some Associates? Some trade school? – Austin French Sep 23 '16 at 21:24
  • This seems fairly inclusive to me. There's the distinction between technical training and graduate studies, which is fairly common, and the inclusion of the "some" accounts for incomplete education. Why are not happy with this, or what triggered you to look for alternatives? – Yisela Nov 24 '16 at 15:49
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I think the words that would be closest to standard in the English-speaking world are "secondary", "undergraduate", and "graduate".

However, a person who has not completed secondary education might not know the word for it, so I would write:

  • some secondary education (high school)
  • completed secondary education (graduated high school)
  • trade/technical/vocational training
  • some undergraduate education (college or university)
  • completed undergraduate education
  • some postgraduate education
  • completed postgraduate education (masters or doctorate)
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Can you give illustrative ages to indicate which stage you are referring to:

So education (and exams) might be chopped into courses with general age ranges.

Level 1 - Exams at age 16

Level 2 - Exams at age 18

Level 3 - Exams at age 21 (Graduate)

Level 4 - Exams taken post 21 (Post Graduate)

It's not a model which might apply to the whole world, but certainly the European countries I know about use this 'stage by stage' model

  • Considering how many people delay education, couldn't this be read as unfriendly for some users? Also, just a note, this wouldn't apply to Latin America because careers there last around 6 years and graduates are never under 24/25 years old. And in countries like Germany you can have technical and university training at the same ages, although for the sake of the survey this might need to be differentiated. – Yisela Nov 24 '16 at 15:45
  • It may be that there's not a clear enough global pattern and it would therefore be a matter of having to localise the screener design. – PhillipW Nov 24 '16 at 17:13

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