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