Questionnaire Design “It is not every question that deserves an answer.” Publius Syrus (Roman, 1st century B.C.) Major Decisions in Questionnaire Design What should be asked? How should each question be phrased? In what sequence should the questions be arranged? What questionnaire layout will best serve the research objectives? How should the questionnaire be pretested? Does the questionnaire need to be revised? Phrasing Questions • Open-ended questions • Fixed-alternative questions Questionnaire Design Process Specify the Information Needed Specify the Type of Interviewing Method Determine the Content of Individual Questions Design the Question to Overcome the Respondent’s Inability and Unwillingness to Answer Decide on the Question Structure Determine the Question Wording Arrange the Questions in Proper Order Questionnaire Design Process (continued) Identify the Form and Layout Reproduce the Questionnaire Eliminate Bugs by Pretesting Types of Questions Questions Unstructured Structured Multiple Dichotomous Scales Choice The Funnel Approach to Ordering Questions Broad or General Questions Narrow or Specific Questions Questionnaire Design Check List Step 1: Information Needed Ensure info obtained fully addresses all components of the problem Must have clear idea of the target population Step 2: Interviewing Method Ensure that the proper interviewing method is being used given the study objectives Questionnaire Design Check List Step 3: Individual Questions Is each question necessary? Is each question unambiguous? Are the proper number of questions needed to measure a particular construct being asked? Questionnaire Design Check List Step 4: Inability/Unwillingness to Answer Is the respondent informed? Can the respondent remember? Can the respondent articulate? Is the information sensitive? Make the information request legitimate. Minimize effort required of respondent. Questionnaire Design Check List Step 5: Question Structure Use structured questions whenever possible. Response alternatives should include all possible answers. Response alternatives should be mutually exclusive. If, on a particular question, a large % of respondents may be expected to be neutral, include a neutral alternative. Questionnaire Design Check List Step 6: Question Wording Use ordinary words. Avoid ambiguous words (usually, probably, normally, etc.) Do not use leading questions. Avoid implicit assumptions. Use positive and negative statements as much as possible. Questionnaire Design Check List Step 7: Question Order Qualifying questions first. General questions before specific questions. Use logical order. Demographics? • Beginning of questionnaire • End of questionnaire Questionnaire Design Check List Step 8: Form & Layout Divide questionnaire into multiple parts Number each question? Precode the questions Keep scale questions in same general vicinity Avoid temptation to “fill the blank spaces” Questionnaire Design Check List Step 9: Questionnaire Reproduction Professional appearance Booklet format for long questionnaires Place directions as close to the questions as possible Expect reproduction errors Questionnaire Design Check List Step 10: Pretesting Always try to pretest first Test everything Pretest sample should be extremely similar to test sample Pretest using same methodology as the main test If make changes to questionnaire, or methodology, pretest again before main test.
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