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Questionnaire Design

Guidelines for QD
A questionnaire is pre-formulated written set of questions to which respondents record their answers, usually within rather closely defined alternatives. General Appearance or Getup:
A good introduction; Organizing questions, giving instructions & Guidance, & Good Alignment; Open ended questions at the end; Concluding the questionnaire: I sincerely appreciate your time and cooperation. Please check to make sure that you have not skipped any questions.

Guidelines for QD contd.

Principles of Wording:
The appropriateness of the questions; How questions are worded and the level of sophistication of the language used; The type and form of questions asked; The sequencing of the questions; The personal data sought from respondents; Length of question: should not exceed 20 words, or exceed one full line in print.

Types of Questions Illustrated

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Pre-coded, single-choice questions Open-ended questions Presence-absence questions Rank-ordering questions Likert-type questions Index development

Types: Pre-Coded, Single-Choice

Pre-coded, single-choice questions ask respondents to indicate which one category applies
Answers are pre-coded for easy data entry

If not all options can be listed, include a category entitled Other with a space to indicate what the Other category implies
Please specify ______________

Categories should be mutually-exclusive

Pre-Coded, Single-Choice: Example

4. What year are you in? Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Others
1 2 3 4 __________

Types: Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions do not have pre-set answers. Excellent way to explore new areas Use open-ended questions when:
Too many response categories You dont wish to impose categories on respondents Consulting respondents Determining appropriate categorization


Open-Ended: Example
21. What is (or was) your fathers occupation? Job ________________________________________ Brief Job Description __________________________ ___________________________________________

23. What is the one thing you would like to see changed at the university? ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________

Open-Ended: Caution
Minimize the number of open-ended questions because they:
Are time-consuming to code May generate responses that are inconsistent Are more likely to be left blank

May decrease response rate

Takes more time to complete the questionnaire

Types: Presence-Absence Questions

Presence-absence questions ask respondents to check off which items in a list do or do not apply to them Less commonly used than other types of questions

Presence-Absence: Example
23. Have you ever had contact with a person having mental disorder in any of these groups? (Circle to indicate yes or no for each group) Yes No
Community ----------Family ----------------Relatives -------------Elementary school -High school ----------University class -----As a co-worker ------1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Types: Rank-Ordering Questions

Rank-order questions ask respondents to indicate an ordering of response items, usually from most preferred to least preferred Must be done with great care
Ask for only three most important items

These types of questions should be avoided or minimized because they take time

Rank-Ordering Questions: Example

31. Rank-order the three most important characteristics you want in the job you make your lifes work. (Place a 1 beside the most important one; a 2 beside the second most important one; and a 3 beside the next most important one.) High salary.. Security... Continued interest.. Power.. Prestige Excitement.. ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____

Types: Likert-Type Questions

Likert-type questions ask respondents to indicate how much they agree or disagree with a statement Response options originally included: strongly disagree, disagree, are undecided or neutral, agree, strongly agree
Today often used with numbered response options (see example, next slide)


2007 Pearson Education Canada

Likert-Type Questions: Example

In the following, circle a number to indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with each statement: 52. I believe capital punishment represents the most effective warning to murder. Strongly disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Strongly agree 53. I believe a murderer can be rehabilitated to become a responsible, functioning member of society. Strongly disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Strongly agree 54. I believe a life sentence is a satisfactory penalty for murder. Strongly disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Strongly agree
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Tips for Likert-Style Questions

1. Avoid the word and
Makes the questions multidimensional

2. Always place strongly agree on right side, with 9 indicating strong agreement
Response set, a situation in which the respondent answers similarly to all answers, is best avoided by wording some statements positively, others negatively

3. Avoid negatives that can confuse respondents

Use direct negative statements

Steps in Questionnaire Development

1. Make a list of variables. Usually includes:
1. Background variables (schooling could effect career but career couldnt effect schooling) 2. Dependent variable(s) 3. Independent variables 4. Intervening Variable (mediating) 5. Antecedent/ spurious A variable that causes spurious relationship between other two variables. The source of spurious relationship is called antecedent variable e.g. parent income type of school (independent) (antecedent)
Academic achievements (dependent)

Steps in Questionnaire Development

The relationship between depended and independent variable should not disappear when antecedent is removed The relationship between antecedent and dependent should disappear when independent is controlled. 2. Anticipate how data will be analyzed
Procedures depend on level of measurement

3. Write the proposed questions

Related to variables.dont ask thing to find

4. Double check: do you have all the variables?

Steps (contd)
5. Review the conceptual definitions of variables 6. Develop wordings for questions
After considering the conceptual definition, also:
Avoid complexity make it simple Use existing wording if comparative study Be precise, highly specific when choosing wordings

7. Pre-test the questionnaire

Start by filling out the survey yourself, then ask individuals to do so Ask for feedback on the questionnaire Is it too long? Any problem with wording?

Steps (contd)
8. Pilot study
Send questionnaire to a small sample of respondents Use data to determine either to modify unclear questions, create pre-coded, single-choice questions based on responses to open-ended questions

Ordering the Questions

Use a brief statement to introduce the survey

to the respondent re: legitimacy of study

Say who is conducting/sponsoring the study Assure confidentiality and anonymity

Ease them into it

Place easy to answer/salient questions at the beginning

Group questions by type

E.g., put Likert-type questions together
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