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Questionnaire Design Asking Questions with a Purpose
Mary G. Marshall Program Development & Evaluation The Texas A&M University System CONTENTS Constructing a Questionnaire Kinds of Information Wording the Questions Response Option Guidelines Types of Questions Close-Ended Questions with One Choice Answers Two Option Response One Best Answer Rating Scale Ordered Choice "Other, Please Specify" Items in a Series Paired Comparisons Matching Close-Ended Questions with Multiple Choice Answers Check All That Apply Lists Ranking Open-Ended Questions Fill in the Blank One Question Structured Four Different Ways Formatting the Questionnaire Pretesting the Questionnaire References 3 4 6 9 11 12

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 24 26

For many evaluation activities, questions will be the main source of information. As a series of questions in written form, a questionnaire is a tool for getting similar information from people that permits numerical tabulation and discussion. An alternative method for acquiring information is an interview, but it is verbal in form. Writing questions and constructing a questionnaire takes time and attention. The starting point is to know what kind of evidence is needed to meet the purpose of the study and to know how the information is to be used. * * Make a list of what you want to know. What do you really want to find out? What do you want to achieve through the use of the questionnaire? From the beginning, think through what you will actually do with each piece of information. What do you want to be able to say? Do you expect to use frequencies, counts, percentages, rankings, multivariate analysis? Ask a question only when it has a purpose, if it is directly related to the purpose of the study. A tendency to collect more and more data adds to costs in time and money and results in information overload. Eliminate all the "nice to know" pieces that aren't essential. Eliminate ambiguous questions. Check to see if the information is already available. Many questions are unnecessary. In writing questions, look through the respondent's eyes: Will the question be seen as reasonable? Will the question infringe on the respondent's privacy? Will the respondent be able and willing to tell you what you want to know? Be selective and realistic. Know what information is needed, why it is wanted, and how you will use the information.


* *

should/should not. know.what people know. what they have. feel or want. Such questions ask people to indicate whether they have a positive or a negative feeling about a subject. accurate/inaccurate.how people feel about something.what people think is true. The ideal refrigerator temperature is . Any one or a combination of these types of information may be included in a questionnaire. an opinion. are aware of. desirable/undesirable. and what they think. These questions ask what people know. how well they understand something. Choices implied in knowledge questions include correct/incorrect. does positive self-esteem among adolescents prevent drug abuse? Do you think that lower beef prices would increase beef consumption? ATTITUDE . present or future reality. satisfactory/unsatisfactory. what is accepted as true or factual. what one thinks exists or does not exist.KINDS OF INFORMATION A questionnaire can help you collect information about what people do. favor/oppose. For example: In your opinion. TRUE-FALSE BELIEF . a preference. For example: What is the major cause of accidental deaths among children inside the home? The most effective weight loss plan includes exercise. Questions may seek perceptions of past. Five different types of information may be distinguished. Choices implied in belief questions include what did or did not happen. understand. KNOWLEDGE . Words typically used in attitude questions include: prefer/not prefer. For example: Do you favor or oppose controlled calving for your operation? Do you agree or disagree that eating beef causes heart disease? . what they value. Beliefs are judgments of what people think is true or false.

what they are doing now. you must ask the right question! . be clear about the intended uses and type of information desired. If questions are vague. Questions about behavior ask people what they have done in the past. For example: Have you ever attended an Extension program about cotton production? Do you treat your cotton for bollworms? How are you currently using the information gained in the food storage workshop? ATTRIBUTES . Likewise. occupation. what people have. the questionnaire may elicit attitudes and beliefs when the intent is to document actual behavior. Attributes are a person's personal or demographic characteristics such as age. education. The response or information you obtain is only as good as the question. questions related to each type of information present different writing problems. questions about knowledge.what people do Ñ may be a physical/manual or mental behavior.BEHAVIOR . Questions concerning attitudes tend to be more difficult to phrase. In contrast. or what they plan to do in the future.what people are. Careful attention should be given to the wording of such questions. income. behaviors and attributes tend to be more direct. For example: Where do you currently live? How many children do you have? What percentage of your household income comes from off-farm employment? To write meaningful questions. Questions on attributes ask people about who they are rather than what they do. given the complexity underlying most attitudes. To get the type of information you want.

or foreign phrases. People's lives are usually not so orderly that they can recall exactly how many times they ate out last year or how many Extension meetings they attended in 1996. A question about older youth should specify what age or grade is considered as "older. consider three things: 1) the particular people for whom the questionnaire is being designed. etc. 6 to 10. Use clear wording. Examples of vague terms include these: majority [more than half of what?]. learning experiences. Include all necessary information. For example: Do you agree or disagree with the county's new environmental policy? Respondents may not know what the policy is or whether it is the most recent one. Some suggestions appear below. they response category might provide a range for selection. jargon. often [daily. Avoid using abbreviations. * * * * * . state. In writing questions. 1997-98. 2) the particular purpose of the questionnaire. Words such as regularly and occasionally mean different things to different people. Do any words have double meanings or are any words confusing? Be specific. Avoid questions that may be too precise. Will respondents understand what is meant by such terms as issue-based programming. governmental [city. 11 to 15. or the last 12 months. Provide a statement summarizing points of the policy that distinguishes it. county. In some cases. To help respondents formulate an answer. weekly?]. or September 1997 through August 1998. Adapt wording to the vocabulary and reading skills of people who will be asked for information. and 3) how questions will be placed in relation to each other in the questionnaire. older people [how old?]. twice weekly. but don't talk down to them." And in the question "How many times did your 4-H club meet last year?" the year should be specifiedÑ1997. * Use simple wording. respondents may not know enough to adequately answer the question.WORDING THE QUESTIONS Wording questions to gain what is wanted and also to be understood by all respondents is a challenging task. federal?]. such as 0 to 5. IMPAC programs? Or the technical terms that professionals commonly use as short-cuts.

ethnic background. This exampleÑ "Do you favor legalization of marijuana for use in private homes but not in public places?" Ñgives respondents no way to say whether they favor both places. a series of questions may be used to soften or overcome the questionable nature of certain information. The respondent may have heard about the seminar from a friend at work. "How many children do you have?"] Avoid double questions. etc. oppose home but favor public use. b) at work. what is your philosophy of 4-H leadership? Use mutually exclusive categories. . A set of questions would be preferred with the first question establishing the situation. $30.999. A question can be biased in several ways: 1) when the question implies that the respondent should be engaged in a particular behavior. e) from a friend. Avoid questions that are too demanding and time consuming.000 to $29.999. that the respondent has friends in to eat. drug use. c) from a relative. oppose both places. Avoid making assumptions. followed by the question of concern. One method is to ask respondents to select from among broad categories [income less than $10. * * * * * Avoid bias in questions. Other double questions may be unduly ambiguous.000 to $19. Such questions influence people to respond in a way that does not accurately reflect their position. In the example of "How did you hear about the Extension seminar?" the response categories are: a) from the Extension office. In 25 words or less.000 and over. Two questions written together gives no opportunity for people to respond in favor of one part or the other. In this exampleÑ "Did the poultry production seminar help you to identify ways to improve the sanitation and increase the nutrition of your cage bird operation?" Ñit would be better to ask about sanitation and nutrition separately. or oppose legalization as a concept in general. Examples are: Rank the following 15 items in order of their importance to you.000. Make sure that only one answer is possible. $20. $10. Questions such as "How many children do you have?" or "Do you prepare beef when you have friends in to eat?" make assumptionsÑthat the respondent has children. f) at an Extension meeting. Being asked to indicate income level. so that more than one answer is possible on this list. Also.* Phrase any personal or potentially incriminating questions in less objectionable ways. For example: "Do you have children?" YES/NO [If yes.] instead of specifying precise information. or eating habits may be objectionable to respondents. d) from the newspaper.

2) when unequal response categories are given or the responses are loaded in one direction. such as bureaucratic. 3) when words with strong positive or negative emotional appeal are used. 3. boss. 2. Check for any incomplete sentences. Some examples of biased questions are shown here: 1. or improperly spaced on the page. not in local order. A better question would state: 4. Do you agree that funding for Extension in your county should be increased? 1 NO 2 YES This is a leading question. How would you rate the housing in which you live? 1 SATISFACTORY 2 GOOD 3 EXCELLENT No negative options are provided. . etc. Do you use Superb? 1 YES 2 NO This question suggests that the respondent should be using Superb. More farmers in Greater County are using Superb than any other variety of wheat. equality.000 ACRES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 BETTER 0 ACRES 1-200 ACRES 201-400 ACRES 401-600 ACRES 601-800 ACRES 801-1000 ACRES OVER 1000 ACRES * Use complete sentences. Too often the answers are confusing. For example: POOR LOGIC POOR SPACING 1 1000 ACRES 1 10 ACRES 2 999-500 ACRES 2 1-9 ACRES 3 499-100 ACRES 3 1 0-99 ACRES 4 99-10 ACRES 4 100-499 ACRES 5 9-1 ACRES 5 500-999 ACRES 6 0 ACRES 6 1. Do you agree or disagree that Extension funding should be increased? (Circle one) 1 STRONGLY AGREE 2 AGREE 3 DISAGREE 4 STRONGLY DISAGREE * Make the response categories clear and logical. Trying to keep questions simple and concise may result in questions being too cryptic and misunderstood.

Radio Newspaper Senior Center Professional journals Popular magazines Department of Health 1 1 1 1 1 1 VERY LITTLE 2 2 2 2 2 2 SOMEWHAT 3 3 3 3 3 3 VERY MUCH 4 4 4 4 4 4 . BULLS SOLD D. "positional parameters" and coding categories.] NOT AT ALL A. To what extent do you use the following sources of information when you do educational work with the elderly? [Circle one number for each item. Positional parameters are the numbers/letters which identify each piece of data for computer entry. Please list the number of cattle (if any) sold in 1996. E. 6.] A. STEERS SOLD * If ONE ANSWER is wanted for the whole question or one answer for each item within the question. and the respondent is instructed to fill in the blank.RESPONSE OPTION GUIDELINES Guidelines to help in answering and in tabulating data have been established by Extension's Data Center to emphasize consistent response instructions. Instructions for answer are the same for each type of question: * FILL IN THE BLANK responses are indicated by a blank line to show the response space. CALVES SOLD C. COWS SOLD B. [Write total number on the line. Would you recommend this program information to your friends and neighbors? [Circle one] 1 NO 2 YES 7. and the respondent is asked to circle one choice. C. F. 5. B. D. numbers (with no periods) are used as the codes for each response. "Codes" are the values representing each response on the questionnaire. These letters or numbers point to the place where the response can be seen.

HIGH PHOSPHOROUS ¥ e.* If MORE THAN ONE ANSWER is sought or likely. . HIGH CALCIUM. examples are presented that use the various types of response options. SALT ¥ b. brackets or boxes are used for marking. In this booklet. EQUAL CALCIUM AND PHOSPHOROUS Using these guidelines will improve data quality by bringing clarity and consistency to Extension-produced questionnaires and improve the tasks of data entry and analysis. SALT/BONEMEAL ¥ c. LOW CALCIUM. 8. the respondent is instructed to check all that apply. What types of minerals do you use? (Check all that apply.) ¥ a. LOW PHOSPHOROUS ¥ d. Each example is coded and the instructions provided are compatible with [Extension Information Technology] Extension Data Center guidelines.

The various types of questions are further explained on pages 12 to 19. They allow respondents to express their own thoughts and comments but are more demanding of both the respondent and the person doing the analysis. Some questions have answers which fall along an implied continuum (rating scales). and others provide relevant answer choices but respondents are free to add another answer.e. Others have answers in no particular order (lists). . Each type of question has certain advantages and disadvantages. without any previously provided options. Some questions have multiple choice (check all that apply) options. Close-ended questions have answer options provided and respondents must select either one answer or multiple answers from what is given. include all possible answers] and also mutually exclusive in providing for the selecting of a single response [without the choice seeming to belong to more than one option].TYPES OF QUESTIONS Questions are open-ended or close-ended. with examples of some response options and formatting on page 20 to 23. Responses for closeended questions must be exhaustive [i. These are fill-in-the-blank responses. Open-ended questions are those where respondents provide their own answers to the question. These questions have greater uniformity in responses but depend on your knowing and including all relevant responses.

four. A greater spread of numbers allows for greater accuracy in statistical analysis. ¥ ONE BEST ANSWER Ñ These questions can be used to solicit information or to test knowledge. DISAGREE-AGREE. ¥ TWO OPTION RESPONSE Ñ This is the simplest response format. Respondents are provided with the list of answers and asked to check or circle the choice they feel is the best. Do you raise stocker cattle? 1 NO 2 YES Depending on the purpose of the information. instead of being gradations along a continuum. The response options might include: NO-YES. ¥ RATING SCALE Ñ Often. . FALSE-TRUE.CLOSE-ENDED QUESTIONS WITH ONE CHOICE ANSWERS Respondents are given a list of answers and asked to circle the choice that they feel is the best. What does the work "nutrition" mean to you? [Circle one number] 1 GETTING ENOUGH VITAMINS. For example: 9. using a rating scale or a ranking (when appropriate) offers more information. Whether you use a scale of three. See next page for examples. 3 HAVING TO EAT FOODS I DON'T LIKE. An example follows: 10. questionnaire respondents are asked to tell their choice at the most appropriate point on a scale. this may be the most appropriate format and is often used as a beginning question in a series on the same topic. 4 HAVING GOOD HEALTH. However. OPPOSE-FAVOR. They are appropriate when all relevant answer choices are known and can be listed. five or more categories depends on the question and the amount of differentiation that is possible and desired. Responses are independent of one another. 2 THE FOOD I EAT AND HOW MY BODY USES IT.

neither does it matter whether Yes or No is listed first. A fourpoint option series appears useful for ratings [e. D. When purchasing new herd bulls. Some examples of rating response categories are these: Very Dissatisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Somewhat Satisfied Very Satisfied Strongly Unfavorable Generally Unfavorable Uncertain Generally Favorable Strongly Favorable No Help at All Slightly Helpful Fairly Helpful Very Helpful Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Uncertain Agree Somewhat Strongly Agree Decreased Stayed the Same Increased Poor Fair Good Excellent . how important are the following traits in your selecting process? [Circle one number for each selection trait] SELECTION TRAIT A. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the new zoning code? [Circle one] 1 STRONGLY DISAGREE 2 MILDLY DISAGREE 3 NEITHER AGREE OR DISAGREE 4 MILDLY AGREE 5 STRONGLY AGREE 12. This is appropriate when you want to know in what direction the people in the middle are leaning. good. An even number of categories forces the respondent to take a side. But you must be consistent in the order followed throughout the questionnaire. B. poor). For greater differentiation.g. A five-point option series seems to be most useful for attitude scaling. Another decision is whether to provide an even or odd number of response options. excellent. C. fair. use a numerical scale running from 0 or 1 to some number [see second example above].11. Performance Conformation Pedigree Breed OF LITTLE IMPORTANCE 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 HIGHLY IMPORTANT 5 6 5 6 5 6 5 6 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 7 7 7 7 Starting with either positive or negative response options appears to have little effect on response. Many people may relate best to a ten-point scale. An odd number of categories provides a middle or neutral position for selection.

See these examples: 13. It is not necessary to use the same categories for each question. (Circle one number) 1 NEVER 2 RARELY 3 SOMETIMES 4 OFTEN 14. INCREASED A LOT. describe the extent to which you were included in making important decisions. A poor example is: DECREASED. the responses are usually intended to measure degree or intensity in an ordered sequence or scale. INCREASED SOMEWHAT. They are appropriate when the topic is well defined and the choice represents a gradation along a single dimension." This protects you against leaving out an important answer choice. ¥ "OTHER. PLEASE SPECIFY" Ñ Here the respondent is offered a choice of answers plus an open-ended response category such as "Other (Please specify). so think about what you will do with these responses. Examples follow with open-ended choices included: 15. Which of these community recreational facilities to you use the most? (Circle one number) 1 PARKS 2 TENNIS COURTS 3 SWIMMING POOLS 4 OTHER . Within your 4-H club. How do you feel about this statement: "I wish this community had more recycling centers. which gives three positive choices but only one negative option.¥ ORDERED CHOICE Ñ In this type of question. It is more important to choose those that are most appropriate to the question being asked. INCREASED A LITTLE. STAYED THE SAME." (circle one number) 1 STRONGLY DISAGREE 2 MILDLY DISAGREE 3 NEITHER AGREE NOR DISAGREE 4 MILDLY AGREE 5 STRONGLY AGREE Responses need to reflect a clear difference and be balanced both positively and negatively. but do it where possible. These questions are particularly suited for evaluating attitudes or opinions. Too often they are never used because they cannot be entered neatly into the computer. It also means that you will have narrative text to analyze.

) ¥ MATCHING Ñ Respondents are asked to match responses to a list of items. Identify the answer choices with a horizontal bracket which guides respondents to the answer choices. ____ WHOLE WHEAT BREAD a. 17. Meat and meat products B. Match each food to the proper food group by putting the correct lower case letter in the blank. it is possible to present the responses in tabular form. circling the number on that line. as in the example below. ____ YOGURT d. 19. which does your family use more often? [Choose one from each comparison. Milk and milk products C.16. Sweets F. How often do you eat the following meats? (Circle one number for each meat) LESS THAN 1-3 TIMES 4-6 TIMES NEVER ONCE/WEEK A WEEK A WEEK DAILY A. Beef 1 2 3 4 5 B. Lamb 1 2 3 4 5 C. In comparing beef to other meats. ____ NECTARINE b. usually expressed in terms of "either/or" or one item "versus [vs] another. ETC. 18. ____ HAM c. Pork 1 2 3 4 5 D.] 1 BEEF OR 2 POULTRY 3 BEEF OR 4 LAMB 5 BEEF OR 6 PORK 7 BEEF OR 8 WILD GAME (VENISON. For example: A. Breads and cereals E. c Strawberry A. ____ PUMPKIN e. What do you consider the main responsibility of your county 4-H agent? [Circle one number] 1 WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO REQUEST HELP 2 WORK WITH 4-H MEMBERS 3 WORK WITH VOLUNTEER 4-H LEADERS 4 PLAN AND ORGANIZE COUNTY YOUTH EVENTS 5 ORGANIZE AND EXPAND NEW 4-H CLUBS 6 OTHER (please specify) ¥ ITEMS IN A SERIES Ñ When various questions use the same response category. Fish 1 2 3 4 5 ¥ PAIRED COMPARISONS Ñ Respondents are asked to compare one item to another. Poultry 1 2 3 4 5 E. ____ OATMEAL . Fruits and vegetables D.

How do you currently market your cattle? [Check all that apply. DIRECT SALES CONTRACT (SELLING FORWARD) ¥ f. There is a risk. that the respondent will not consider each item Ñ so don't make the list too long. LOCAL MEAT PACKER ¥ c. Respondents may choose one or more answers. however. GRUBS OR TICKS f. Ambitious 1 Happy Idealistic Outgoing . DESCRIBES ME 2 1 1 1 DOES NOT DESCRIBE ME 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 DON'T KNOW A. BRUCELLOSIS e. whether the adjective does or does not describe you. LOCAL AUCTION BARN ¥ b. D. Examples: 20.] ¥ a. INTERNAL PARASITES d.CLOSE-ENDED QUESTIONS WITH MULTIPLE CHOICE ANSWERS ¥ CHECK ALL THAT APPLY Ñ This common response format is actually a series of YES NO items. HEDGING ¥ e. C. Please indicate for each adjective. Listed below are some adjectives that might be used to describe a person. TERMINAL MARKET ¥ d. REPRODUCTIVE DISEASES ¥ LISTS Ñ A list provides a series of answers. B. LIVESTOCK DEALER 21. 22. COW HEALTH b. CALF DISEASES c. What information would you like covered in the next Extension workshop? (Check all your choices) ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ a. It is a fast and easy way to obtain such in formation which also saves space. depending on the instructions.

3. Saving costs in food buying . _______ b. 3. c. What to eat to look better b. How food affects me 3. 1. d. _______ a. Physical conditioning through diet f. b. 2. _______ 2. What to eat to look better 2. third. Vitamins 25. What would you like to know more about? Select three responses from the list and rank them in order of 1. second.23. What would you like to know more about? Select up to four responses from the righthand column and rank them in order of first. Reading labels to find the fat content h. (Place the letter of the alphabet on the lines provided. Weight control d. 1. 1. Vitamins g. fourth choice. Weight control d. 2. From the list provided. 24. Health foods e. Health foods e. 4. _______ 3. _______ a. _______ first choice _______ second choice _______ third choice _______ fourth choice a. Physical conditioning through diet f. select THREE adjectives which best describe you. Respondents are given various responses and asked to rank them in order of importance or indicate a "top three. How food affects me c. _______ c. Ambitious Happy Idealistic Outgoing ¥ RANKING Ñ Rank ordering is a multiple-choice option." See the examples below.

solicit creative suggestions. ____ ACRES OF SUMMER ANNUALS F. Answers are likely to be varied. A. 29. include the unit which is to be used. Please list the number of acres. if any. What do you think should be done to improve the Family and Consumer Science program in this county? 27. or recall information learned [See examples 1 and 2 below.OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS FILL IN THE BLANK Ñ An open-ended question is often the easiest way to ask a question. ____ ACRES OF CLOVER E. Please say how you intend to use the information you gained during the workshop. so think about how you will analyze the responses. ____ ACRES OF OATS C. they must be categories and summarized. * * Most often used to stimulate free thought. of temporary pasture you planed in 1997. ____ ACRES OF RYE GRASS D. 30. * When asking for a numeric response. 28. Often used at the end of a questionnaire to ask respondents for any additional comments they might have (example 4 above). 26.] Can be used as a probing question to elicit more detail. ____ ACRES OF WHEAT B. but the responses are not easy to analyze. The computer or data enter person can't "magically" tabulate open-ended questions. Please write in the space below any thoughts you'd like to share with us. Name the five basic food groups. ____ ACRES OF OTHER (and specify):_______________________________ * * Useful when respondents are asked to supply a specific answer and a large array of responses is possible (example 3 above) or when all possible answers are not known. . We are interested in knowing any other comments you might have concerning the 4-H program and your role as 4-H leader.

B. Effective Parenting Child Development Guidance and Discipline Communications ¥ PARTIALLY CLOSE-ENDED What topic do you feel should be the main program emphasis for next year? [Circle number of your answer] 1 Effective Parenting 2 Child Development 3 Guidance and Discipline 4 Communications 5 Other (please specify) ¥ OPEN-ENDED What would you like to see as the main program emphasis next year? .ONE QUESTION STRUCTURED FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS ¥ CLOSE-ENDED WITH UNORDERED RESPONSE CHOICES Which of these four topics would you like most to see as the primary program emphasis for next year? (Circle the number of your answer) 1 Effective Parenting 2 Child Development 3 Guidance and Discipline 4 Communications ¥ CLOSE-ENDED WITH ORDERED RESPONSES How important to you is each of the following possible program emphases? [Circle a number for each item] NONE 1 1 1 1 LITTLE 2 2 2 2 SOME MUCH 3 4 3 4 3 4 3 4 A. D. C.

In mailed questionnaires. Arrange the order of questions to achieve continuity and a natural flow. followed by questions about costs of these various types. The questionnaire must be pleasing to look at and easy to complete. Put the more general questions first. a series of decisions must be made about the questionnaire format: its appearance. The following guidelines may help in formatting the questionnaire. Put the more important questions at the beginning. who is conducting it. Allow sufficient open space to let the respondent feel it is not crowded and hard to read. Make them clearly related and useful to the topic of the questionnaire. ¥ Make the first questions nonprovoking and interesting. gender. It breaks the attention span to have a multiple choice question following a YES/NO question. and order of questions. race/ethnicity. For example. purpose of the different types. etc.) at the end of the questionnaire. followed by a more specific question. and confidentiality. ¥ Begin with an introduction which includes the questionnaire's purpose. then an open-ended question. The beginning questions should not be open-ended or questions with a long list of answer choices. start with questions about types of insurance. Try to keep all questions on one subject together. reinforce points that were made in the cover letter. to what use the information will go. Use quality print in an easy-to-read type face.FORMATTING THE QUESTIONNAIRE As the questions are determined. if you want to find out about a person's knowledge of insurance. length. Place demographic questions (age. Try to use the same type of question/responses throughout a particular train of thought. ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ .

the respondent moves easily down the page. ¥ . Dillman [1978] suggests using lower case letters for questions and upper case letters for answers. Don't cause respondents to turn a page in the middle of a question or between the question and its answers.) Pre-code items and response categories as much as possible. This way.) (Check all that apply. It is better to repeat directions too often than not enough. to help in data tabulation and analysis.) (Please fill in the blank. Maybe put the instructions in boldface or italics. Specific instructions may include: (Circle the number of your choice. This will save time and money since data can be entered directly from the questionnaire without recoding the responses. Be sure that the question is distinguishable from the instructions and the answers. For example. instead of side to side. Put directions in parentheses immediately after the question.) (Enter whole numbers. Example: Instead of horizontally: ___ EXCELLENT ___ GOOD ___ FAIR ___ POOR ¥ ¥ ¥ Format vertically: 1 EXCELLENT 2 GOOD 3 FAIR 4 POOR ¥ Give directions on how to answer. if you begin with: 1 NO 2 YES then don't switch later to: 1 YES 2 NO Keep the whole question and its answers on the same page. Try to arrange questions and answers in a vertical flow. As much as possible. put the response blanks in the same location on the page to make tabulation easier.) (Please do not use decimals or fractions.) (Circle only one.¥ Always use the same number for the same answer throughout the questionnaire.

. ¥ Some questions may not apply to every respondent. Another important purpose of this survey is to learn how you feel about the work of service organizations in your community. Transitional statements are used in three ways: 1) to signal that a new topic is beginning. It is a brief summary of the program's activities and people who were involved. we would like to ask a few questions about you to help us in interpreting the results. 2) indent all questions that may be screened. A validation item [Bennett. For example: The Dell County Extension family life program included a variety of activities during 1997 that focused on teaching money management and budgeting skills to help families better manage their resources. or 3) use boxes to direct respondents past the question(s) they don't need to answer. make it clear who is to answer the question and what should be done by those who aren't supposed to answer. Dillman [1978] makes three suggestions: 1) use arrows to guide respondents from one question to the next. computer budgeting workshops. 1982] at the beginning of the questionnaire identifies the program and sets the stage for the questions to follow. ¥ It may be useful to make sure that the respondent is referring to the same program and defining it similarly. 2) to start new pages. and 3) to break up the monotony of a long series of questions. Consumers from across the county attended these activities on Money Management Skills. These activities included lunch and learn programs. Example transitional statements: Next we would like to ask you several questions about the community organizations you belong to.¥ Use transitional statements to build continuity. For such screening or filtering questions. Finally. letter series and short courses.

--. if any.OR THIS FORMAT --Q-5 Do you own or rent the home in which you now live? [Circle the number of your answer] 1 OWN HOME (If you own your home) Q-6a How much is your monthly house payment (without property taxes)? 1 2 3 4 5 LESS THAN $200 $200 TO $299 $300 TO $399 $400 TO $499 $500 OR MORE 2 RENT HOME (If you rent your home) Q-6b How much is your monthly rent? 1 2 3 4 5 LESS THAN $200 $200 TO $299 $300 TO $399 $400 TO $499 $500 OR MORE Q-7a How much per month do you pay for electricity. heat.See these examples of screening/filtering questions: Q-5 Do you own or rent the home in which you now live? 1 OWN THE HOME 2 RENT HOME If you rent: Q-6 How much is your monthly rent? 1 2 3 4 5 LESS THAN $100 $100 TO $199 $200 TO $299 $300 TO $399 $400 OR MORE > If you OWN. water and garbage collection? 1 2 3 4 5 LESS THAN $30 $30 TO $74 $75 TO $124 $125 TO $199 $200 OR MORE Q-7b Which of these. is included in your monthly rent? (Circle all that are included) 1 2 3 4 5 ELECTRICITY GARBAGE HEAT WATER NONE OF THE ABOVE . skip from here to Q-14 on next page.

will greatly increase the quality of information obtained from a questionnaire. Allow enough time to incorporate any revisions. any pretest needs to provide evidence about the following questions: Is each question measuring what it is intended to measure? Are all the words understood? Are questions interpreted similarly by all respondents? Does each close-ended question have an answer that applies to each respondent? Does the questionnaire create a positive impression. According to Dillman [1978: 156]. After they answer the questions.PRETESTING THE QUESTIONNAIRE Pretesting is an essential part of questionnaire design. but find later that the intended respondents did not understand well enough to deal with most questions. Consider the reviewers' comments carefully and see how they can enhance the questionnaire. Select people like your respondents to "pre-test" the questionnaire. too many people consider pilot testing as a superficial task they can avoid. ease of response. Many practitioners feel that if you don't have the resources to critically test the usability and understandability of the instrument in advance. Ask co-workers to review all questions to see if wording and instructions are clear Ñ if the questionnaire will accomplish the study purposes. Choose people who represent a crosssection of the population that will be given the questionnaire. 1 Have colleagues critically review the questionnaire. then don't do the study. 2 . questions. one that motivates people to answer it? Are questions answered correctly? (Are some missed? Do some elicit uninterpretable answers?) Does any part of the questionnaire suggest bias on the part of the researcher? Taking the five steps below. This means a careful examination of the individual questions and the questionnaire as a whole. several weeks or even months in advance. ask for comments about their impressions Ñ understanding of the purpose. Unfortunately.

as it will be done. 4 Try the tabulation and analysis procedures. Obtain feedback about the form and content of the questionnaire. It is very important also to assess whether the questions produce the data you need to meet the purpose of the study. 5 Now prepare and check the final draft. Whether a mail survey. do the data entry tabulations and analyze in the way you would to prepare your final report. telephone or direct interview. . When responses are adequately understood and yield the type(s) of information you are searching for. Ñ Information obtained from the questionnaire will mean something for my study and provide the evidence needed. the design stage is nearing completion. Reformulate wherever needed and check the new questions with a new representative group of respondents. Using the responses from people who pretested the questionnaire. have people answer it without any help and afterward obtain their suggestions. Were any questions misunderstood? Were the directions clear? How long did it take to fill out? Was it too long or too difficult? Was there enough space to write in the responses? etc. If an interview. have the interviewer actually conduct the pilot test. to see if the questionnaire yields data that can be analyzed. If a mailed questionnaire. Go over each question until you and other users are satisfied that: Ñ Specific items will contribute to key questions I am trying to answer.3 Simulate the actual data collection procedure as much as possible. either by phone or face-to-face. Revise and re-test. take it through a practice run of all the intended steps. Ñ This makes a good impression for mail or meeting distribution.

Donald A. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. CONSTRUCTING A QUESTIONNAIRE. Inc. Bennett. Columbus. Rohs. 1985. 1982.d. OH: Ohio Cooperative Extension Service. New York: John Wiley and Sons. NY: Cornell University Media Services. A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN. Claude F. KS: Kansas State Cooperative Extension Service. et al. Barbara J. REFLECTIVE APPRAISAL OF PROGRAMS (RAP): An Approach to Studying Clientele-Perceived Results of Cooperative Extension Programs. QUESTIONNAIRE CONSTRUCTION. Sudman. OR: Oregon State University Extension Service. Fisher. 1986. EVALUATING FOR ACCOUNTABILITY. Richard.REFERENCES Babbie.GETTING DATA INTO THE COMPUTER MANUALLY. Bradburn. Dillman. 1978. Layman.. Christy and Jeffrey D. College Station: Texas Agricultural Extension Service. Newsome. Manhattan. Belmont. NORTHEAST AREA EVALUATION PROCESS. 1982. . MAIL AND TELEPHONE SURVEYS: THE TOTAL DESIGN METHOD. Sawer. 1984. F. ASKING QUESTIONS. Athens. CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co. SURVEY RESEARCH METHODS. Kansas State University. SURVEY DESIGN . n.. n.d. GA: Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. The Ohio State University. Corvallis. Earl R. Ithaca. Seymour and Norman M. EDGE. 1973. Extension Computer Technology Group. Bob W..

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