Data Collection Methods III
A questionnaire is a preformatted written set of questions to which respondents record their answers usually within rather closely defined alternatives. Questionnaires are an efficient data collection mechanism when the researcher knows exactly what is required and how to measure the variables of interest. Questionnaires can be administered personally, mailed to the respondents, or electronically distributed.
Guidelines for Questionnaire Design
Sound questionnaire design principles should focus on three areas. The first relates to the wording of the questions. The second refers to the planning of issues with regard to how the variables will be categorized, scaled, and coded after receipt of the responses. The third pertains to the general appearance of the questionnaire. All three are important issues in questionnaire design because they can minimize bias in research.
The principles of wording refer to such factors as:
The appropriateness of the content of the questions.
How questions are worded and the level of sophistication of the language used. 3.
The type and form of questions asked.
The sequence of the questions.
The personal data sought from the respondents.
Content and Purpose of the Questions
The nature of the variable tapped – subjective feelings or objective facts – determine what kinds of questions are asked. If the variables tapped are of a subjective nature (e.g., satisfaction, involvement), where respondents’ beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes are to be measured, the questions should tap the dimensions and elements of the concept. Where objective variables, such as age and educational levels are tapped, a single direct question – preferably one that has an ordinal scale set of categories – is appropriate. Subjective variables can take on nominal scale while objective variables can take on ordinal scale measurement.
Language and Wording of the Questionnaire
The language of the questionnaire should approximate the level of understanding of the respondents. The choice of words should depend on their level of education, the usage of terms and idioms in the culture, and the frames of reference of the respondents. For instance, even when English is the spoken or official language in two cultures, certain words may be alien to one culture. Terms such as “working here is drag,” and “she is a compulsive worker,” may not be interpreted the same way in different cultures. Students from other discipline may not understand terms such as p value, confidence level, confidence interval, type I error , and type II error. Such terms may sound alien to them. Thus it’s essential to word the questions in a way that can be understood by the respondent. If some questions are either not understood or are interpreted different by the respondent, the researcher will obtain the wrong answers to the questions, and the responses will thus be biased. Therefore, the questions asked, the language used, and the wording should be appropriate to tap respondents’ attitudes, perceptions, and feelings.
Types and form of questions
The type of questions refers to whether the question is open-ended or closed. The form of the question refers to whether it is positively or negatively worded.
Open-ended versus closed questions:
Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer them in any way they choose. An example of an open-ended question is asking the respondent to state five things that are interesting and challenging in the job. Another example is asking what the respondents like about their supervisors or their work environment. A third example is to invite their comments on the investment portfolio of the firm.
A closed question, in contrast, asks the respondents to make choices among a set of alternatives given by the researcher. For instance, instead of asking the respondent to state any five aspects of the job that she finds interesting...
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