questionnaires

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Questionnaires : 

Questionnaires By Lucell Larawan

Why use questionnaires? : 

Why use questionnaires? They are low cost in terms of both time and money. The inflow of data is quick and from many people. Respondents can complete the questionnaire at a time and place that suits them. Data analysis is relatively simple. Anonymity can be assured. No interviewer bias.

Designing questionnaires : 

Designing questionnaires Questionnaires reflect the designer’s view of the world, no matter how objective the researcher tries to be. Arksey and Knight (1999) lists what to avoid:

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…cont.

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In determining how to ask questions, consider the following: Can the question be misunderstood? Is the question misleading because of unstated assumptions or unseen implications? Is the wording biased? Is the question wording likely to be objectionable to the respondent in any way?

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…cont. Can the question be asked in a more direct or a more indirect form? Are double questions avoided? Are leading questions avoided? Is attention paid to detail—e.g. overlapping categories such as “age 30-35, 35-40”? Do questions avoid taxing respondent’s memories? Can the questions be shortened?

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Are categories such as “don’t know” and “not applicable” provided? Will the words used have the same meaning for all respondents, regardless of nationality, language, culture, etc.? Is the frame of reference clear—e.g. if asking how often, is the range of possible responses made obvious? Do questions artificially create opinions on subjects where respondents really do not have any?

Drafting the question content : 

Drafting the question content In writing questions issues such as validity need to be borne in mind. Hence, the content of the questionnaire needs to cover the research issues that have been specified.

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A series of precise steps must be followed: 1) The researcher has to be clear about the information required and encode this accurately into a question. 2) The respondent must interpret the question in a way that the researcher intended. 3) The respondent must construct an answer that contains information that the researcher has requested.

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4) The researcher must interpret the answer as the respondent had intended it to be interpreted.

Drafting the answer : 

Drafting the answer Decide on how you want people to respond and stick with it. So, if you require respondents to stick to their responses, get them to do this throughout the questionnaire, rather than also incorporate underlining and circling. In general, people seem to be used to box-ticking. The golden rule is that it should be absolutely clear how the respondent is to complete the questionnaire.

Type of questions : 

Type of questions Open questions—have no definitive response and contain answers that are recorded in full. Closed questions—is one to which the respondent is offered a set of pre-designed replies such as “yes/no”, multiple-choice responses, or is given the opportunity to choose from a selection of numbers representing strength of feeling or attitude.

Specific forms of questions : 

Specific forms of questions 1) List question Ex: What do you think is the most important influence on the success of the organization in the next two years? Please check as many responses as you think accurate. Changes in government policy The entry of new competitors The impact of the company’s current strategy Others (please specify)

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2) Category question Ex: How often in an average week do you use our e-banking facilities? Please check one response. Never Once 2-3 times 4-5 times 6 times or more

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3) Ranking question Ex: Please indicate in the boxes provided which features you believe are the most important when visiting our superstore (1 indicating the most important, 2 the next most important, etc.) Please leave blank those features that have no importance at all. Ease of parking store loyalty card Low prices others (pls specify) Friendly staff

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4) Scale question Ex: As loyal electricity customer we would like to know your views on the service we provide. Please put one check for each of the following statements. Strongly Agree Disagree agree I have been pleased with the emergency call out service…etc.

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5) Continuum scale Please circle one number that reflects your opinion of our helpline support Quick 1 2 3 4 5 Slow Friendly 1 2 3 4 5 Discourteous Informative 1 2 3 4 5 Confusing

Sequencing questions : 

Sequencing questions There should be a logical flow to the sequence of questions, just as you would expect in a formal written text. Such will aid the respondent in understanding individual questions and the overall purpose of the questionnaire.

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Flowchart for planning of question sequences: Do you read the staff newsletter? yes no Do you read it frequently? Is it because yes no it hasn’t been delivered to you?

Providing response categories : 

Providing response categories Asking a question, “What employment sector did you work in before your present job?” might be confused. It would be appropriate to provide a list of categories such as: finance, retailing, education, commerce, agriculture, (others, please specify).

Common response category quantifiers : 

Common response category quantifiers

Questionnaire layout : 

Questionnaire layout One way of improving the rate of response to a questionnaire is by making it as attractive as possible. Hence, factors such as the general layout, choice of paper, line spacing and answering directions should be considered. The way of answering multi-choice questions should be consistent throughout—for example, ticking boxes or circling numbers.

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Carrol (1994) suggests that other typographical issues require careful attention such as: Putting boxes around groups of questions. Shading multiple-choice questions. Selecting clean, clear typefaces. Using lines to take the respondents’ eye from question to response. Numbering all questions and sections.

Writing a set of instructions : 

Writing a set of instructions Most questionnaires must have a set of instructions for completing them. De Vaus (2002) suggests that, to improve the flow of a questionnaire, the following should be considered: General instructions, dealing with the purpose of the questionnaire, assurances of confidentiality, how and when to return the questionnaire. Section introductions when then questionnaire is divided into subsections.

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Question instructions (e.g. tick only one response). “Go to” instructions.

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Dillman (2007) refers to these “go to” instructions as “skip instructions.” The following illustrates improving this type of question: A problem skip question: 12) Do you use public transport to get to work? Yes (Go to 13) No (Go to 18) 13) How long does your journey take you (in minutes)?

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An improved skip question: 12) Do you use public transport to get to work? No (skip to 18) Yes 13) How long does your journey take you (in minutes)?

Designing internet and web-based questionnaires : 

Designing internet and web-based questionnaires Given that many organizations have good connections to the internet, the use of online surveys is especially advantageous in terms of convenience and access to large samples and populations.

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Email questionnaires—are relatively easy to compose but offer fewer opportunities to provide visual stimulation or interactivity. Web-based questionnaire—offer many facilities for questionnaire design that are not available in traditional, paper-based formats, such as the use of drop-down menus

Piloting questionnaires : 

Piloting questionnaires Questionnaires are a one-shot attempt at data-gathering. It is therefore essential that they are accurate, unambiguous and simple to complete. The piloting involves the questions asked and the following: Instructions given to respondents Style and wording of any accompanying letter Content of face-sheet data, that is, respondents’ names, addresses, etc.

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Cont… Formality or informality of the questionnaire in terms of tone, presentation, etc. Length of the questionnaire Sequence of questions Quality of individual questions in terms of whether they are understood and answered as intended Scales and question format used such as Likert scales, yes/no responses, etc.

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De Vaus (2002) suggests that evaluation of questionnaire should include: 1) The ability of question to discriminate. If everyone responds with the same answer to a question this is often not very useful, since one purpose of using a questionnaire is to examine the diversity of views on a subject. 2) The validity and reliability of questions. 3) Redundancy, so if it is found that two questions measure the same thing, one of them can be dropped. 4) The response set. With some respondents, a pattern of answering sets in such as ticking “strongly agree” for all questions as a habit. To avoid this, it is wise to alternate responses with a negative statement on which the respondent will have to disagree.

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Who can help you with piloting? Gillham (2000) advises trying out your initial list of questions with one or two people who are not part of the target group. Explain that you are trying to get the questions right, and that they should indicate where a question is unclear. Note their comments. Once you amended the questionnaire, re-trial it with another two or three people who are similar to but not part of the target population. The procedure is the same but this time also ask for imrpovements, deletions and additions.

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