What kind of questions do we ask?
In general, there are two types of questions one will ask, open format or closed format. Open format questions are those that ask for unprompted opinions. In other words, there are no predetermined set of responses, and the participant is free to answer however he chooses. Open format questions are good for soliciting subjective data or when the range of responses is not tightly defined. An obvious advantage is that the variety of responses should be wider and more truly reflect the opinions of the respondents. This increases the likelihood of you receiving unexpected and insightful suggestions, for it is impossible to predict the full range of opinion. It is common for a questionnaire to end with and open format question asking the respondent for her unabashed ideas for changes or improvements. Open format questions have several disadvantages. First, their very nature requires them to be read individually. There is no way to automatically tabulate or perform statistical analysis on them. This is obviously more costly in both time and money, and may not be practical for lower budget or time sensitive evaluations. They are also open to the influence of the reader, for no two people will interpret an answer in precisely the same way. This conflict can be eliminated by using a single reader, but a large number of responses can make this impossible. Finally, open format questions require more thought and time on the part of the respondent. Whenever more is asked of the respondent, the chance of tiring or boring the respondent increases. Closed format questions usually take the form of a multiple-choice question. They are easy for the respondent, give There is no clear consensus on the number of options that should be given in an closed format question. Obviously, there needs to be sufficient choices to fully cover the range of answers but not so many that the distinction between them becomes blurred. Usually this translates into five to ten possible answers per questions. For questions that measure a single variable or opinion, such as ease of use or liability, over a complete range (easy to difficult, like to dislike), conventional wisdom says that there should be an odd number of alternatives. This allows a neutral or no opinion response. Other schools of thought contend that an even number of choices is best because it forces the respondent to get off the fence. This may induce the some inaccuracies for often the respondent may actually have no opinion. However, it is equally arguable that the neutral answer is over utilized, especially by bored questionnaire takers. For larger questionnaires that test opinions on a very large number of items, such as a music test, it may be best to use an even number of choices to prevent large numbers of no-thought neutral answers. Closed format questions offer many advantages in time and money. By restricting the answer set, it is easy to calculate percentages and other hard statistical data over the whole group or over any subgroup of participants. Modern scanners and computers make it possible to administer, tabulate, and perform preliminary analysis in a matter of days. Closed format questions also make it easier to track opinion over time by administering the same questionnaire to different but similar participant groups at regular intervals. Finally closed format questions allow the researcher to filter out useless or extreme answers that might occur in an open format question. Whether your questions are open or closed format, there are several points that must by considered when writing and interpreting questionnaires: 1. Clarity: This is probably the area that causes the greatest source of mistakes in questionnaires. Questions must be clear, succinct, and unambiguous. The goal is to eliminate the chance that the question will mean different things to different people. If the designers fails to do this, then essentially...
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