Questionnaire: Questionnaire design

A questionnaire is a research method  consisting of a series of questions for the purpose of collecting information from respondents. Additionally, questionnaires are  commonly used to gather first-hand information from a large population, in the form of a survey.

Types of questionnaire

There are different types of questionnaires in practice. The type of questionnaire to be used usually depends on the purpose of the survey and also the type of data that has to be collected. Questionnaires are divided into the following 2 major categories:

An open-ended questionnaire

This type of questionnaire requires the respondent to formulate his own answer

Closed-ended questionnaire

On the other hand, closed ended the respondent pick an answer from a given number of options. The response options for a closed-ended question should be exhaustive . The following are four types of response scales for closed-ended questions:

  • Dichotomous- respondent has two options
  • Nominal-polytomous- where the respondent has more than two unordered options
  • Ordinal-polytomous- the respondent has more than two ordered options
  • Continuous-  respondent is presented with a continuous scale

Basic rules for questionnaire item design

  • Use statements that members of different subpopulations of the target population can interpret  the same way by
  • Use statements where persons that have different opinions or traits will give different answers.
  • Think of having an open answer category after a list of possible answers.
  • Use only one aspect of the construct of interest per item.
  • Use positive statements and avoid negatives or double negatives.
  • Do not make assumptions about the respondent.
  • Use clear and simple words for everyone to understand
  • Use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Avoid items that contain more than one question per item
  • Question should not be bias .

The advantages of questionnaires

  1. They are highly practical
  2. Collection of large amounts of information within a short period of time.
  3. Relatively cost effective
  4.  Researcher or any number of people with limited effect to its validity and reliability can conduct the questionnaire
  5. The results of the questionnaires can usually be quickly and easily quantified
  6. Analyzation is more objective than other forms of research
  7. Quantified data can particularly be of use to compare and contrast other research
  8. Positivists believe that quantitative data can be  of use in creating new theories and / or test existing hypotheses

The disadvantages of questionnaires

  1.  Inadequate to understand some forms of information ,for example, changes of emotions, behaviour, feelings etc.
  2.  Quantitative research only asks a limited amount of information without explanation
  3. Lacks validity
  4. No prove if the respondent is honest
  5. There is also no way of telling how much effort a respondent has put in
  6. The respondent may be forgetful or not thinking within the full context of the situation
  7. People may read differently into each question and therefore reply based on their own interpretation of the question
  8. There is a level of researcher imposition, that is, when developing the questionnaire, the researcher is making their own decisions and assumptions as to what is and is not relevant.

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