This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
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
CONSTRUCTING A QUESTIONNAIRE
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.
KNOWLEDGE . For example: What is the major cause of accidental deaths among children inside the home? The most effective weight loss plan includes exercise. Such questions ask people to indicate whether they have a positive or a negative feeling about a subject.how people feel about something. These questions ask what people know. what they have. The ideal refrigerator temperature is . Words typically used in attitude questions include: prefer/not prefer.what people think is true.KINDS OF INFORMATION A questionnaire can help you collect information about what people do. and what they think. satisfactory/unsatisfactory. how well they understand something. Choices implied in knowledge questions include correct/incorrect.what people know. an opinion. what they value. Choices implied in belief questions include what did or did not happen. present or future reality. Five different types of information may be distinguished. are aware of. favor/oppose. know. For example: In your opinion. Any one or a combination of these types of information may be included in a questionnaire. desirable/undesirable. understand. TRUE-FALSE BELIEF . Questions may seek perceptions of past. what one thinks exists or does not exist. does positive self-esteem among adolescents prevent drug abuse? Do you think that lower beef prices would increase beef consumption? ATTITUDE . feel or want. what is accepted as true or factual. Beliefs are judgments of what people think is true or false. accurate/inaccurate. should/should not. a preference. For example: Do you favor or oppose controlled calving for your operation? Do you agree or disagree that eating beef causes heart disease? .
the questionnaire may elicit attitudes and beliefs when the intent is to document actual behavior. questions about knowledge. 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 . be clear about the intended uses and type of information desired.BEHAVIOR . Questions on attributes ask people about who they are rather than what they do. what people have. If questions are vague.what people are. occupation. income. Questions about behavior ask people what they have done in the past. education.what people do Ñ may be a physical/manual or mental behavior. behaviors and attributes tend to be more direct. what they are doing now. Questions concerning attitudes tend to be more difficult to phrase. The response or information you obtain is only as good as the question. you must ask the right question! . To get the type of information you want. questions related to each type of information present different writing problems. or what they plan to do in the future. In contrast. Attributes are a person's personal or demographic characteristics such as age. Likewise. 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. Careful attention should be given to the wording of such questions. given the complexity underlying most attitudes.
state. In some cases. jargon. learning experiences. Avoid questions that may be too precise. weekly?]. and 3) how questions will be placed in relation to each other in the questionnaire. often [daily. Examples of vague terms include these: majority [more than half of what?]. or September 1997 through August 1998." And in the question "How many times did your 4-H club meet last year?" the year should be specifiedÑ1997. Will respondents understand what is meant by such terms as issue-based programming. Avoid using abbreviations. Some suggestions appear below.WORDING THE QUESTIONS Wording questions to gain what is wanted and also to be understood by all respondents is a challenging task. 2) the particular purpose of the questionnaire. Use clear wording. etc. To help respondents formulate an answer. consider three things: 1) the particular people for whom the questionnaire is being designed. 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. governmental [city. they response category might provide a range for selection. older people [how old?]. * * * * * . Words such as regularly and occasionally mean different things to different people. Include all necessary information. A question about older youth should specify what age or grade is considered as "older. Do any words have double meanings or are any words confusing? Be specific. federal?]. 11 to 15. or the last 12 months. twice weekly. Provide a statement summarizing points of the policy that distinguishes it. or foreign phrases. In writing questions. 1997-98. such as 0 to 5. 6 to 10. IMPAC programs? Or the technical terms that professionals commonly use as short-cuts. respondents may not know enough to adequately answer the question. 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. but don't talk down to them. county. Adapt wording to the vocabulary and reading skills of people who will be asked for information. * Use simple wording.
One method is to ask respondents to select from among broad categories [income less than $10.000 and over.999.000 to $29. A set of questions would be preferred with the first question establishing the situation. A question can be biased in several ways: 1) when the question implies that the respondent should be engaged in a particular behavior. 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.000 to $19. that the respondent has friends in to eat. 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. Such questions influence people to respond in a way that does not accurately reflect their position. . e) from a friend.] instead of specifying precise information. followed by the question of concern. $10. or oppose legalization as a concept in general. Examples are: Rank the following 15 items in order of their importance to you. $20. The respondent may have heard about the seminar from a friend at work. Other double questions may be unduly ambiguous. 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. Two questions written together gives no opportunity for people to respond in favor of one part or the other. $30. "How many children do you have?"] Avoid double questions. drug use. d) from the newspaper. For example: "Do you have children?" YES/NO [If yes. Make sure that only one answer is possible. Avoid questions that are too demanding and time consuming. oppose home but favor public use. f) at an Extension meeting. c) from a relative. so that more than one answer is possible on this list. a series of questions may be used to soften or overcome the questionable nature of certain information. Avoid making assumptions. In 25 words or less. oppose both places.999. * * * * * Avoid bias in questions.* Phrase any personal or potentially incriminating questions in less objectionable ways. ethnic background. b) at work. Also. In the example of "How did you hear about the Extension seminar?" the response categories are: a) from the Extension office. what is your philosophy of 4-H leadership? Use mutually exclusive categories. or eating habits may be objectionable to respondents. etc.000. Being asked to indicate income level.
More farmers in Greater County are using Superb than any other variety of wheat. Some examples of biased questions are shown here: 1.2) when unequal response categories are given or the responses are loaded in one direction.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. or improperly spaced on the page. 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. boss. equality. How would you rate the housing in which you live? 1 SATISFACTORY 2 GOOD 3 EXCELLENT No negative options are provided. 3) when words with strong positive or negative emotional appeal are used. such as bureaucratic. 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. not in local order. Too often the answers are confusing. Do you use Superb? 1 YES 2 NO This question suggests that the respondent should be using Superb. A better question would state: 4. . 3. 2. Do you agree that funding for Extension in your county should be increased? 1 NO 2 YES This is a leading question. Trying to keep questions simple and concise may result in questions being too cryptic and misunderstood. Check for any incomplete sentences. etc.
BULLS SOLD D. 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. STEERS SOLD * If ONE ANSWER is wanted for the whole question or one answer for each item within the question. Please list the number of cattle (if any) sold in 1996. Would you recommend this program information to your friends and neighbors? [Circle one] 1 NO 2 YES 7. 5. 6. numbers (with no periods) are used as the codes for each response. B. These letters or numbers point to the place where the response can be seen. [Write total number on the line. F.] NOT AT ALL A.] A. E. 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. 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. "Codes" are the values representing each response on the questionnaire. CALVES SOLD C. C. D. COWS SOLD B. "positional parameters" and coding categories. 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 . and the respondent is asked to circle one choice. Positional parameters are the numbers/letters which identify each piece of data for computer entry.
examples are presented that use the various types of response options. Each example is coded and the instructions provided are compatible with [Extension Information Technology] Extension Data Center guidelines. HIGH CALCIUM. . 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. the respondent is instructed to check all that apply. LOW PHOSPHOROUS ¥ d. SALT/BONEMEAL ¥ c. SALT ¥ b. What types of minerals do you use? (Check all that apply. HIGH PHOSPHOROUS ¥ e. brackets or boxes are used for marking.) ¥ a. In this booklet.* If MORE THAN ONE ANSWER is sought or likely. LOW CALCIUM. 8.
e. Some questions have multiple choice (check all that apply) options. These questions have greater uniformity in responses but depend on your knowing and including all relevant responses. with examples of some response options and formatting on page 20 to 23.TYPES OF QUESTIONS Questions are open-ended or close-ended. These are fill-in-the-blank responses. Others have answers in no particular order (lists). and others provide relevant answer choices but respondents are free to add another answer. The various types of questions are further explained on pages 12 to 19. Open-ended questions are those where respondents provide their own answers to the question. Each type of question has certain advantages and disadvantages. without any previously provided options. They allow respondents to express their own thoughts and comments but are more demanding of both the respondent and the person doing the analysis. Responses for closeended questions must be exhaustive [i. 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]. . Some questions have answers which fall along an implied continuum (rating scales).
DISAGREE-AGREE. 3 HAVING TO EAT FOODS I DON'T LIKE. five or more categories depends on the question and the amount of differentiation that is possible and desired. ¥ ONE BEST ANSWER Ñ These questions can be used to solicit information or to test knowledge. Do you raise stocker cattle? 1 NO 2 YES Depending on the purpose of the information. 4 HAVING GOOD HEALTH. See next page for examples. They are appropriate when all relevant answer choices are known and can be listed. For example: 9. ¥ RATING SCALE Ñ Often. Responses are independent of one another. FALSE-TRUE. OPPOSE-FAVOR. using a rating scale or a ranking (when appropriate) offers more information. Whether you use a scale of three. However. The response options might include: NO-YES. A greater spread of numbers allows for greater accuracy in statistical analysis. 2 THE FOOD I EAT AND HOW MY BODY USES IT. Respondents are provided with the list of answers and asked to check or circle the choice they feel is the best. this may be the most appropriate format and is often used as a beginning question in a series on the same topic. An example follows: 10. What does the work "nutrition" mean to you? [Circle one number] 1 GETTING ENOUGH VITAMINS. questionnaire respondents are asked to tell their choice at the most appropriate point on a scale.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. . instead of being gradations along a continuum. four. ¥ TWO OPTION RESPONSE Ñ This is the simplest response format.
B. But you must be consistent in the order followed throughout the questionnaire. use a numerical scale running from 0 or 1 to some number [see second example above]. fair. An odd number of categories provides a middle or neutral position for selection.11. poor). C. An even number of categories forces the respondent to take a side. 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. Another decision is whether to provide an even or odd number of response options. excellent. 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. 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. A fourpoint option series appears useful for ratings [e. D. When purchasing new herd bulls. This is appropriate when you want to know in what direction the people in the middle are leaning. good.g. neither does it matter whether Yes or No is listed first. A five-point option series seems to be most useful for attitude scaling. For greater differentiation.
¥ "OTHER. (Circle one number) 1 NEVER 2 RARELY 3 SOMETIMES 4 OFTEN 14. It also means that you will have narrative text to analyze. INCREASED A LITTLE. These questions are particularly suited for evaluating attitudes or opinions. How do you feel about this statement: "I wish this community had more recycling centers. It is more important to choose those that are most appropriate to the question being asked. It is not necessary to use the same categories for each question. which gives three positive choices but only one negative option. STAYED THE SAME. They are appropriate when the topic is well defined and the choice represents a gradation along a single dimension." (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. Within your 4-H club. A poor example is: DECREASED. See these examples: 13. INCREASED A LOT. describe the extent to which you were included in making important decisions. Which of these community recreational facilities to you use the most? (Circle one number) 1 PARKS 2 TENNIS COURTS 3 SWIMMING POOLS 4 OTHER . so think about what you will do with these responses. but do it where possible. Too often they are never used because they cannot be entered neatly into the computer. INCREASED SOMEWHAT. the responses are usually intended to measure degree or intensity in an ordered sequence or scale.¥ ORDERED CHOICE Ñ In this type of question." This protects you against leaving out an important answer choice. Examples follow with open-ended choices included: 15. PLEASE SPECIFY" Ñ Here the respondent is offered a choice of answers plus an open-ended response category such as "Other (Please specify).
____ YOGURT d. 18. c Strawberry A. as in the example below. 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. Sweets F. ____ HAM c. Match each food to the proper food group by putting the correct lower case letter in the blank.] 1 BEEF OR 2 POULTRY 3 BEEF OR 4 LAMB 5 BEEF OR 6 PORK 7 BEEF OR 8 WILD GAME (VENISON. 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. ____ PUMPKIN e. Pork 1 2 3 4 5 D. Identify the answer choices with a horizontal bracket which guides respondents to the answer choices. Beef 1 2 3 4 5 B.) ¥ MATCHING Ñ Respondents are asked to match responses to a list of items. Breads and cereals E. circling the number on that line. ETC. Lamb 1 2 3 4 5 C. it is possible to present the responses in tabular form. ____ OATMEAL . Fish 1 2 3 4 5 ¥ PAIRED COMPARISONS Ñ Respondents are asked to compare one item to another. ____ NECTARINE b. ____ WHOLE WHEAT BREAD a. Milk and milk products C.16. Poultry 1 2 3 4 5 E. In comparing beef to other meats. which does your family use more often? [Choose one from each comparison. usually expressed in terms of "either/or" or one item "versus [vs] another. For example: A. 17. Fruits and vegetables D. 19. Meat and meat products B.
HEDGING ¥ e. GRUBS OR TICKS f. LIVESTOCK DEALER 21. INTERNAL PARASITES d. Listed below are some adjectives that might be used to describe a person. 22. that the respondent will not consider each item Ñ so don't make the list too long. Ambitious 1 Happy Idealistic Outgoing . How do you currently market your cattle? [Check all that apply. 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.CLOSE-ENDED QUESTIONS WITH MULTIPLE CHOICE ANSWERS ¥ CHECK ALL THAT APPLY Ñ This common response format is actually a series of YES NO items. TERMINAL MARKET ¥ d. depending on the instructions. DESCRIBES ME 2 1 1 1 DOES NOT DESCRIBE ME 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 DON'T KNOW A. COW HEALTH b. whether the adjective does or does not describe you.] ¥ a. Respondents may choose one or more answers. BRUCELLOSIS e. Please indicate for each adjective. LOCAL MEAT PACKER ¥ c. D. REPRODUCTIVE DISEASES ¥ LISTS Ñ A list provides a series of answers. C. Examples: 20. however. DIRECT SALES CONTRACT (SELLING FORWARD) ¥ f. B. CALF DISEASES c. LOCAL AUCTION BARN ¥ b. There is a risk.
_______ 2. What to eat to look better b. third.23. How food affects me 3. Reading labels to find the fat content h. 2. Health foods e. How food affects me c. c. 3. 24. 1. Weight control d. d. 1. Vitamins g. 3. _______ a. 2. What to eat to look better 2. fourth choice. 4. 1. Weight control d. Respondents are given various responses and asked to rank them in order of importance or indicate a "top three. _______ b. Ambitious Happy Idealistic Outgoing ¥ RANKING Ñ Rank ordering is a multiple-choice option. Saving costs in food buying . _______ c. Physical conditioning through diet f. Health foods e. Vitamins 25. _______ 3. _______ first choice _______ second choice _______ third choice _______ fourth choice a. (Place the letter of the alphabet on the lines provided. What would you like to know more about? Select three responses from the list and rank them in order of 1." See the examples below. _______ a. What would you like to know more about? Select up to four responses from the righthand column and rank them in order of first. second. select THREE adjectives which best describe you. b. From the list provided. Physical conditioning through diet f.
solicit creative suggestions. 28. What do you think should be done to improve the Family and Consumer Science program in this county? 27. Answers are likely to be varied. Name the five basic food groups. of temporary pasture you planed in 1997. ____ ACRES OF OATS C. Please say how you intend to use the information you gained during the workshop. Often used at the end of a questionnaire to ask respondents for any additional comments they might have (example 4 above). but the responses are not easy to analyze. Please write in the space below any thoughts you'd like to share with us. or recall information learned [See examples 1 and 2 below. ____ 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. 26. if any. include the unit which is to be used. We are interested in knowing any other comments you might have concerning the 4-H program and your role as 4-H leader. 30. ____ ACRES OF RYE GRASS D. * When asking for a numeric response. ____ ACRES OF WHEAT B. * * Most often used to stimulate free thought. The computer or data enter person can't "magically" tabulate open-ended questions. Please list the number of acres. they must be categories and summarized. ____ ACRES OF SUMMER ANNUALS F. .OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS FILL IN THE BLANK Ñ An open-ended question is often the easiest way to ask a question.] Can be used as a probing question to elicit more detail. 29. so think about how you will analyze the responses. ____ ACRES OF CLOVER E. A.
C. B. D.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. 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? .
Put the more general questions first. Allow sufficient open space to let the respondent feel it is not crowded and hard to read. ¥ Begin with an introduction which includes the questionnaire's purpose. Use quality print in an easy-to-read type face. start with questions about types of insurance. Make them clearly related and useful to the topic of the questionnaire. race/ethnicity. if you want to find out about a person's knowledge of insurance. then an open-ended question. gender. to what use the information will go. and order of questions. Try to keep all questions on one subject together. and confidentiality. The questionnaire must be pleasing to look at and easy to complete. For example. length.FORMATTING THE QUESTIONNAIRE As the questions are determined. Arrange the order of questions to achieve continuity and a natural flow. In mailed questionnaires. a series of decisions must be made about the questionnaire format: its appearance. Put the more important questions at the beginning. reinforce points that were made in the cover letter. ¥ Make the first questions nonprovoking and interesting. ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ . Place demographic questions (age.) at the end of the questionnaire. Try to use the same type of question/responses throughout a particular train of thought. followed by a more specific question. The following guidelines may help in formatting the questionnaire. purpose of the different types. etc. who is conducting it. It breaks the attention span to have a multiple choice question following a YES/NO question. The beginning questions should not be open-ended or questions with a long list of answer choices. followed by questions about costs of these various types.
) (Please do not use decimals or fractions. to help in data tabulation and analysis. Put directions in parentheses immediately after the question. This will save time and money since data can be entered directly from the questionnaire without recoding the responses. Maybe put the instructions in boldface or italics. Dillman  suggests using lower case letters for questions and upper case letters for answers.) (Circle only one.) (Enter whole numbers. For example. As much as possible. ¥ . Don't cause respondents to turn a page in the middle of a question or between the question and its answers.) (Check all that apply. Try to arrange questions and answers in a vertical flow. Specific instructions may include: (Circle the number of your choice. instead of side to side.) (Please fill in the blank. the respondent moves easily down the page.) Pre-code items and response categories as much as possible. It is better to repeat directions too often than not enough.¥ Always use the same number for the same answer throughout the questionnaire. 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. Example: Instead of horizontally: ___ EXCELLENT ___ GOOD ___ FAIR ___ POOR ¥ ¥ ¥ Format vertically: 1 EXCELLENT 2 GOOD 3 FAIR 4 POOR ¥ Give directions on how to answer. Be sure that the question is distinguishable from the instructions and the answers. put the response blanks in the same location on the page to make tabulation easier. This way.
¥ It may be useful to make sure that the respondent is referring to the same program and defining it similarly. make it clear who is to answer the question and what should be done by those who aren't supposed to answer.¥ Use transitional statements to build continuity. . 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. Dillman  makes three suggestions: 1) use arrows to guide respondents from one question to the next. Transitional statements are used in three ways: 1) to signal that a new topic is beginning. A validation item [Bennett. It is a brief summary of the program's activities and people who were involved. 2) indent all questions that may be screened. Finally. For such screening or filtering questions. and 3) to break up the monotony of a long series of questions. Example transitional statements: Next we would like to ask you several questions about the community organizations you belong to. computer budgeting workshops. letter series and short courses. 2) to start new pages. Consumers from across the county attended these activities on Money Management Skills. ¥ Some questions may not apply to every respondent. 1982] at the beginning of the questionnaire identifies the program and sets the stage for the questions to follow. These activities included lunch and learn programs. we would like to ask a few questions about you to help us in interpreting the results. Another important purpose of this survey is to learn how you feel about the work of service organizations in your community. or 3) use boxes to direct respondents past the question(s) they don't need to answer.
if any. 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. skip from here to Q-14 on next page.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. is included in your monthly rent? (Circle all that are included) 1 2 3 4 5 ELECTRICITY GARBAGE HEAT WATER NONE OF THE ABOVE .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. heat. --.
will greatly increase the quality of information obtained from a questionnaire. 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. Many practitioners feel that if you don't have the resources to critically test the usability and understandability of the instrument in advance. ease of response. several weeks or even months in advance. Choose people who represent a crosssection of the population that will be given the questionnaire. questions. 2 . After they answer the questions. then don't do the study. but find later that the intended respondents did not understand well enough to deal with most questions. Unfortunately. Allow enough time to incorporate any revisions.PRETESTING THE QUESTIONNAIRE Pretesting is an essential part of questionnaire design. This means a careful examination of the individual questions and the questionnaire as a whole. too many people consider pilot testing as a superficial task they can avoid. 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. Ask co-workers to review all questions to see if wording and instructions are clear Ñ if the questionnaire will accomplish the study purposes. Select people like your respondents to "pre-test" the questionnaire. According to Dillman [1978: 156]. 1 Have colleagues critically review the questionnaire. Consider the reviewers' comments carefully and see how they can enhance the questionnaire. ask for comments about their impressions Ñ understanding of the purpose.
4 Try the tabulation and analysis procedures. telephone or direct interview. either by phone or face-to-face. . the design stage is nearing completion. as it will be done. have the interviewer actually conduct the pilot test. Obtain feedback about the form and content of the questionnaire. have people answer it without any help and afterward obtain their suggestions. to see if the questionnaire yields data that can be analyzed.3 Simulate the actual data collection procedure as much as possible. Ñ Information obtained from the questionnaire will mean something for my study and provide the evidence needed. 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. do the data entry tabulations and analyze in the way you would to prepare your final report. 5 Now prepare and check the final draft. Using the responses from people who pretested the questionnaire. It is very important also to assess whether the questions produce the data you need to meet the purpose of the study. Whether a mail survey. 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 a mailed questionnaire. Revise and re-test. If an interview. When responses are adequately understood and yield the type(s) of information you are searching for. Ñ This makes a good impression for mail or meeting distribution. take it through a practice run of all the intended steps. Reformulate wherever needed and check the new questions with a new representative group of respondents.
Bennett. et al. Ithaca. The Ohio State University. ASKING QUESTIONS. n. Bob W. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 1985. 1973. Sudman. CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co. Richard. 1982. Rohs. Christy and Jeffrey D. Sawer. CONSTRUCTING A QUESTIONNAIRE. n. College Station: Texas Agricultural Extension Service.REFERENCES Babbie. Manhattan. GA: Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Donald A. KS: Kansas State Cooperative Extension Service. Barbara J. Seymour and Norman M. Athens. New York: John Wiley and Sons.d. QUESTIONNAIRE CONSTRUCTION. Layman. MAIL AND TELEPHONE SURVEYS: THE TOTAL DESIGN METHOD.GETTING DATA INTO THE COMPUTER MANUALLY. A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN. Claude F. SURVEY RESEARCH METHODS. 1982. SURVEY DESIGN . NY: Cornell University Media Services. EDGE. 1984. EVALUATING FOR ACCOUNTABILITY. Inc. Columbus. REFLECTIVE APPRAISAL OF PROGRAMS (RAP): An Approach to Studying Clientele-Perceived Results of Cooperative Extension Programs.. . Fisher. Corvallis. NORTHEAST AREA EVALUATION PROCESS. Extension Computer Technology Group. 1986. Dillman. Earl R. OH: Ohio Cooperative Extension Service. Kansas State University.. Bradburn. Belmont. Newsome. OR: Oregon State University Extension Service. 1978.d.. F.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?