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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.


* *

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

what people have. or what they plan to do in the future. you must ask the right question! . behaviors and attributes tend to be more direct.BEHAVIOR . Careful attention should be given to the wording of such questions. Attributes are a person's personal or demographic characteristics such as age. Questions on attributes ask people about who they are rather than what they do. be clear about the intended uses and type of information desired. questions about knowledge. The response or information you obtain is only as good as the question. what they are doing now. To get the type of information you want. In contrast. Likewise. occupation. the questionnaire may elicit attitudes and beliefs when the intent is to document actual behavior. education. questions related to each type of information present different writing problems. Questions about behavior ask people what they have done in the past. Questions concerning attitudes tend to be more difficult to phrase.what people do Ñ may be a physical/manual or mental behavior. given the complexity underlying most attitudes.what people are. If questions are vague. 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. 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 . income.

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

A question can be biased in several ways: 1) when the question implies that the respondent should be engaged in a particular behavior. .000 and over. Examples are: Rank the following 15 items in order of their importance to you. Such questions influence people to respond in a way that does not accurately reflect their position. oppose both places. ethnic background. Avoid questions that are too demanding and time consuming.000. Make sure that only one answer is possible. In the example of "How did you hear about the Extension seminar?" the response categories are: a) from the Extension office. so that more than one answer is possible on this list. followed by the question of concern. a series of questions may be used to soften or overcome the questionable nature of certain information. b) at work. Other double questions may be unduly ambiguous.000 to $19. The respondent may have heard about the seminar from a friend at work. that the respondent has friends in to eat. For example: "Do you have children?" YES/NO [If yes.999. f) at an Extension meeting. Also. etc. or eating habits may be objectionable to respondents. Two questions written together gives no opportunity for people to respond in favor of one part or the other.999. d) from the newspaper. 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 $29. A set of questions would be preferred with the first question establishing the situation. $30. drug use. "How many children do you have?"] Avoid double questions. One method is to ask respondents to select from among broad categories [income less than $10. Being asked to indicate income level. $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.* Phrase any personal or potentially incriminating questions in less objectionable ways. c) from a relative.] instead of specifying precise information. oppose home but favor public use. In 25 words or less. Avoid making assumptions. 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. what is your philosophy of 4-H leadership? Use mutually exclusive categories. or oppose legalization as a concept in general. $20. e) from a friend. * * * * * Avoid bias in questions.

etc. 2.2) when unequal response categories are given or the responses are loaded in one direction. Some examples of biased questions are shown here: 1. Do you use Superb? 1 YES 2 NO This question suggests that the respondent should be using Superb. equality. . 3) when words with strong positive or negative emotional appeal are used. 3. A better question would state: 4. 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. More farmers in Greater County are using Superb than any other variety of wheat. Too often the answers are confusing.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. Check for any incomplete sentences. Do you agree that funding for Extension in your county should be increased? 1 NO 2 YES This is a leading question. 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. or improperly spaced on the page. not in local order. such as bureaucratic. boss. Trying to keep questions simple and concise may result in questions being too cryptic and misunderstood. How would you rate the housing in which you live? 1 SATISFACTORY 2 GOOD 3 EXCELLENT No negative options are provided.

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. COWS SOLD B. 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 . F. "Codes" are the values representing each response on the questionnaire.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. C. E. [Write total number on the line. These letters or numbers point to the place where the response can be seen. STEERS SOLD * If ONE ANSWER is wanted for the whole question or one answer for each item within the question. BULLS SOLD D. D. Would you recommend this program information to your friends and neighbors? [Circle one] 1 NO 2 YES 7. and the respondent is instructed to fill in the blank. "positional parameters" and coding categories.] NOT AT ALL A.] A. Positional parameters are the numbers/letters which identify each piece of data for computer entry. B. Please list the number of cattle (if any) sold in 1996. 6. and the respondent is asked to circle one choice. 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. 5. CALVES SOLD C. numbers (with no periods) are used as the codes for each response.

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

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

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

how important are the following traits in your selecting process? [Circle one number for each selection trait] SELECTION TRAIT A. A five-point option series seems to be most useful for attitude scaling. poor).g. D. 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. C. B. Many people may relate best to a ten-point scale. excellent.11. neither does it matter whether Yes or No is listed first. An odd number of categories provides a middle or neutral position for selection. use a numerical scale running from 0 or 1 to some number [see second example above]. 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. A fourpoint option series appears useful for ratings [e. This is appropriate when you want to know in what direction the people in the middle are leaning. good. Another decision is whether to provide an even or odd number of response options. 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 . An even number of categories forces the respondent to take a side. fair. For greater differentiation. When purchasing new herd bulls. But you must be consistent in the order followed throughout the questionnaire.

Within your 4-H club. INCREASED A LITTLE. A poor example is: DECREASED. It also means that you will have narrative text to analyze. so think about what you will do with these responses. Which of these community recreational facilities to you use the most? (Circle one number) 1 PARKS 2 TENNIS COURTS 3 SWIMMING POOLS 4 OTHER . STAYED THE SAME. See these examples: 13. It is more important to choose those that are most appropriate to the question being asked. INCREASED SOMEWHAT. which gives three positive choices but only one negative option. (Circle one number) 1 NEVER 2 RARELY 3 SOMETIMES 4 OFTEN 14. 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. These questions are particularly suited for evaluating attitudes or opinions." This protects you against leaving out an important answer choice. How do you feel about this statement: "I wish this community had more recycling centers. It is not necessary to use the same categories for each question. but do it where possible. PLEASE SPECIFY" Ñ Here the respondent is offered a choice of answers plus an open-ended response category such as "Other (Please specify). the responses are usually intended to measure degree or intensity in an ordered sequence or scale. ¥ "OTHER. INCREASED A LOT. describe the extent to which you were included in making important decisions.¥ ORDERED CHOICE Ñ In this type of question. Too often they are never used because they cannot be entered neatly into the computer. Examples follow with open-ended choices included: 15.

Sweets F. usually expressed in terms of "either/or" or one item "versus [vs] another. ____ NECTARINE b. 18. Breads and cereals E. Fish 1 2 3 4 5 ¥ PAIRED COMPARISONS Ñ Respondents are asked to compare one item to another. Pork 1 2 3 4 5 D. Milk and milk products C. 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. Match each food to the proper food group by putting the correct lower case letter in the blank. which does your family use more often? [Choose one from each comparison.) ¥ MATCHING Ñ Respondents are asked to match responses to a list of items. ____ WHOLE WHEAT BREAD a. as in the example below. In comparing beef to other meats. ____ YOGURT d. it is possible to present the responses in tabular form. 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. c Strawberry A. 19.16. ETC. Identify the answer choices with a horizontal bracket which guides respondents to the answer choices. ____ OATMEAL .] 1 BEEF OR 2 POULTRY 3 BEEF OR 4 LAMB 5 BEEF OR 6 PORK 7 BEEF OR 8 WILD GAME (VENISON. Lamb 1 2 3 4 5 C. Fruits and vegetables D. 17. ____ PUMPKIN e. Meat and meat products B. circling the number on that line. For example: A. Poultry 1 2 3 4 5 E. Beef 1 2 3 4 5 B. ____ HAM c.

HEDGING ¥ e. 22. Listed below are some adjectives that might be used to describe a person. LOCAL MEAT PACKER ¥ c. Ambitious 1 Happy Idealistic Outgoing . LIVESTOCK DEALER 21. TERMINAL MARKET ¥ d. There is a risk. B. INTERNAL PARASITES d. It is a fast and easy way to obtain such in formation which also saves space.] ¥ a. Respondents may choose one or more answers. DIRECT SALES CONTRACT (SELLING FORWARD) ¥ f. that the respondent will not consider each item Ñ so don't make the list too long. DESCRIBES ME 2 1 1 1 DOES NOT DESCRIBE ME 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 DON'T KNOW A. Please indicate for each adjective. C. Examples: 20. GRUBS OR TICKS f. CALF DISEASES c. COW HEALTH b. whether the adjective does or does not describe you. however. LOCAL AUCTION BARN ¥ b. What information would you like covered in the next Extension workshop? (Check all your choices) ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ a. depending on the instructions. BRUCELLOSIS e. 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. REPRODUCTIVE DISEASES ¥ LISTS Ñ A list provides a series of answers. How do you currently market your cattle? [Check all that apply.

_______ c. Weight control d. Saving costs in food buying . Health foods e. 2. third. d. Health foods e. fourth choice. _______ a. _______ 2. 3. What to eat to look better 2. (Place the letter of the alphabet on the lines provided. _______ 3. 3. Ambitious Happy Idealistic Outgoing ¥ RANKING Ñ Rank ordering is a multiple-choice option. Weight control d. b. 1. second. 1. 4. What would you like to know more about? Select three responses from the list and rank them in order of 1. Vitamins 25. 1. Reading labels to find the fat content h. _______ b. select THREE adjectives which best describe you. What to eat to look better b. 24. From the list provided." See the examples below. _______ a. c. What would you like to know more about? Select up to four responses from the righthand column and rank them in order of first. Vitamins g. _______ first choice _______ second choice _______ third choice _______ fourth choice a. Physical conditioning through diet f. Respondents are given various responses and asked to rank them in order of importance or indicate a "top three. How food affects me c. 2.23. How food affects me 3. Physical conditioning through diet f.

Often used at the end of a questionnaire to ask respondents for any additional comments they might have (example 4 above). ____ ACRES OF RYE GRASS D. ____ ACRES OF OATS C. Name the five basic food groups. 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.] Can be used as a probing question to elicit more detail. so think about how you will analyze the responses. Please list the number of acres. of temporary pasture you planed in 1997. 28. Answers are likely to be varied. ____ ACRES OF SUMMER ANNUALS F. * * Most often used to stimulate free thought. A.OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS FILL IN THE BLANK Ñ An open-ended question is often the easiest way to ask a question. or recall information learned [See examples 1 and 2 below. if any. . ____ ACRES OF CLOVER E. 30. * When asking for a numeric response. but the responses are not easy to analyze. 26. ____ 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. solicit creative suggestions. Please say how you intend to use the information you gained during the workshop. ____ ACRES OF WHEAT B. What do you think should be done to improve the Family and Consumer Science program in this county? 27. include the unit which is to be used. 29. they must be categories and summarized.

D. 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. C. B.

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

¥ Always use the same number for the same answer throughout the questionnaire. It is better to repeat directions too often than not enough. Maybe put the instructions in boldface or italics. ¥ . Don't cause respondents to turn a page in the middle of a question or between the question and its answers. the respondent moves easily down the page. put the response blanks in the same location on the page to make tabulation easier. Specific instructions may include: (Circle the number of your choice. This way. 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.) (Please fill in the blank. Example: Instead of horizontally: ___ EXCELLENT ___ GOOD ___ FAIR ___ POOR ¥ ¥ ¥ Format vertically: 1 EXCELLENT 2 GOOD 3 FAIR 4 POOR ¥ Give directions on how to answer.) Pre-code items and response categories as much as possible. instead of side to side. Dillman [1978] suggests using lower case letters for questions and upper case letters for answers. As much as possible. Put directions in parentheses immediately after the question. to help in data tabulation and analysis.) (Enter whole numbers.) (Please do not use decimals or fractions.) (Check all that apply.) (Circle only one. For example. 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.

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

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. skip from here to Q-14 on next page. 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. if any. --. 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. is included in your monthly rent? (Circle all that are included) 1 2 3 4 5 ELECTRICITY GARBAGE HEAT WATER NONE OF THE ABOVE .

Ask co-workers to review all questions to see if wording and instructions are clear Ñ if the questionnaire will accomplish the study purposes. 1 Have colleagues critically review the 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. will greatly increase the quality of information obtained from a questionnaire.PRETESTING THE QUESTIONNAIRE Pretesting is an essential part of questionnaire design. Select people like your respondents to "pre-test" the questionnaire. Allow enough time to incorporate any revisions. Choose people who represent a crosssection of the population that will be given the questionnaire. ask for comments about their impressions Ñ understanding of the purpose. ease of response. too many people consider pilot testing as a superficial task they can avoid. 2 . Unfortunately. questions. Many practitioners feel that if you don't have the resources to critically test the usability and understandability of the instrument in advance. Consider the reviewers' comments carefully and see how they can enhance the questionnaire. several weeks or even months in advance. According to Dillman [1978: 156]. 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. After they answer the questions. but find later that the intended respondents did not understand well enough to deal with most questions. This means a careful examination of the individual questions and the questionnaire as a whole. then don't do the study.

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

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

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