Guidelines in Writing
Items for Noncognitive
Measures
Carlo Magno, PhD
De La Salle University, Manila
How do I start writing items?
What variable do you want to measure?
You need a conceptual framework
Good conceptual framew...
Examples of Framework
Passion by Vallerance et al. (2003)
Obsessive passion
Harmonious passion
Epistemological beliefs by ...
Examples of Framework
Achievement emotions by Pekrun (2006)
Positive activating emotions: enjoyment, hope,
pride
Positive ...
Look for the definition in the framework
There are good definitions
There are also bad definitions
Using definitions
• Good definitions
– Accurate
– Easily understood
– Provides behavioral
manifestation of the
construct
–...
What is a good item?
Items need to be consistently understood
Items need to be consistently administered or
communicated t...
Gathering factual data
Ensures that respondents have the same
understanding of what is to be reported.
Faulty: I ate butte...
Knowing and remembering
 Form of an answer:
 Faulty: In the past 30 days, were you able to climb a flight
of stairs with...
Questions to measure subjective states
Defining what is to be rated:
Example: In general, do you think government
official...
Questions to measure subjective states
Agree-disagree format:
Example: My health is excellent
Example: I like my mother
Ra...
Questions to measure subjective states
Narrative answer
What do you consider to be the most important
problem facing your ...
General rules for designing good survey
instruments
 The strength of the survey research is asking people about
their fir...
General rules for designing good survey
instruments
 A survey question should be worded so that all respondents
are answe...
General rules for designing good survey
instruments
 If a survey is to be interviewer administered, wording of the
questi...
General rules for designing good survey
instruments
Avoid questions that begin with adverbs: how when,
where, where, why, ...
Presurvey evaluation questions
Before the actual survey is done, testing should be
done to find out if respondents can und...
Presurvey evaluation questions
Intensive individual interview
Find out how respondents understand the questions
Respondent...
Guide to questionnaire construction
Match your objectives with your questions
Keep the language pitched to the level of th...
Presurvey evaluation questions
Protect your respondents ego.
If you’re after unpleasant orientations, give your
respondent...
Presurvey evaluation questions
Avoid biased or leading questions
Phrase questions so that they are not unnecessarily
objec...
22
Examples of Response Formats
Multiple response item:
Single-response item
23
Examples of Response Formats
Lickert Scale
24
Examples of Response Formats
Verbal frequency scale
25
Examples of Response Formats
Ordinal scale
26
Examples of Response Formats
Forced Ranking Scale
Paired Comparison Scale
27
Examples of Response Formats
Comparative Scale
28
Examples of Response Formats
Linear Numeric Scale
29
Examples of Response Formats
Semantic differential scale
30
Examples of Response Formats
Adjective checklist
Semantic distance scale
31
Examples of Response Formats
Fixed sum scale
32
Examples of Response Formats
Multiple rating list
33
Examples of Response Formats
Multiple rating matrix
34
Examples of Response Formats
Diagram scale
35
Examples of Response Formats
Graphic scale
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Guidelines in writing items for noncognitive measures

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Guidelines in writing items for noncognitive measures

  1. 1. Guidelines in Writing Items for Noncognitive Measures Carlo Magno, PhD De La Salle University, Manila
  2. 2. How do I start writing items? What variable do you want to measure? You need a conceptual framework Good conceptual frameworks are presented in scholarly journals A scale becomes faulty if the framework is faulty or not well-grounded on a theory or model The framework should provide the description, definition, and factors of the variable you want to study. Get a framework from the original author of the construct
  3. 3. Examples of Framework Passion by Vallerance et al. (2003) Obsessive passion Harmonious passion Epistemological beliefs by Schommer (1993) Fixed ability Simple knowledge Quick learning Certain learning
  4. 4. Examples of Framework Achievement emotions by Pekrun (2006) Positive activating emotions: enjoyment, hope, pride Positive deactivating emotions: relief Negative activating emotions: anger, anxiety, shame Negative deactivating emotions: hopelessness, boredom
  5. 5. Look for the definition in the framework There are good definitions There are also bad definitions
  6. 6. Using definitions • Good definitions – Accurate – Easily understood – Provides behavioral manifestation of the construct – No contradictions • Bad definitions – Overlaps with other constructs – Highly technical – Difficult to frame examples – Parsimonious (exemption to the rule)
  7. 7. What is a good item? Items need to be consistently understood Items need to be consistently administered or communicated to respondents Unless measuring knowledge is the goal of the question, all respondents should have access to the information needed to answer the item accurately Respondents must be willing to provide the responses called for in the item
  8. 8. Gathering factual data Ensures that respondents have the same understanding of what is to be reported. Faulty: I ate butter in the past week. Better: I ate butter in the past 7 days not counting any margarine. Faulty: My income is 1,000 Php. Better: My total family income including from all sources, before deductions for taxes, for me and my family members living with me for 2008 is 1,000 Php.
  9. 9. Knowing and remembering  Form of an answer:  Faulty: In the past 30 days, were you able to climb a flight of stairs with no difficulty, with some difficulty, or were you not able to climb the stairs at all?  Better: How many miles are you from the nearest hospital?  Reducing social desirability:  Ensure confidentiality  Emphasize in the introduction and in other ways the importance of the accuracy of answers  Use self-administration rather than interviewer administrator, or have respondents enter their answers directly into the computer.
  10. 10. Questions to measure subjective states Defining what is to be rated: Example: In general, do you think government officials care about your interest a lot, some, only a little, or not at all? Example: Do you consider crime to be a big problem, some problem, or no problem at all? Response task: Overall, how would you rate your health?-excellent, very good, good, fair, poor?
  11. 11. Questions to measure subjective states Agree-disagree format: Example: My health is excellent Example: I like my mother Rank order: Which candidate do you prefer? Here are some factors some people consider when deciding where to live. Which is most important to you? Proximity to work Quality of school Parks Safety Access to shopping
  12. 12. Questions to measure subjective states Narrative answer What do you consider to be the most important problem facing your local city government today? Measuring responses to ideas: Higher taxes generally hurt the rich and benefit the poor. Do you agree or disagree? In general, would you like to have more money spent on the parks and playgrounds in your neighborhood area or not?
  13. 13. General rules for designing good survey instruments  The strength of the survey research is asking people about their firsthand experiences. Ask questions to which most people have informed answer.  Beware of asking about information that is only acquired second-hand.  Beware of hypothetical questions.  Beware of asking about solutions to complex problems.  Questions should be asked one at a time.  Avoid asking two questions at once.  Avoid questions that impose unwarranted assumptions.  Beware of questions that include hidden contingencies.
  14. 14. General rules for designing good survey instruments  A survey question should be worded so that all respondents are answering the same questions.  To the extent possible, choose the words in questions so that all respondents understand their meaning and all respondents have the same sense of what the meaning is.  To the extent that words or terms must be used that have meanings that are likely not to be shared, provide definitions to all respondents.  The time period referred to by a question should be unambiguous.  If what is to be covered is too complex to be included in a single question, ask multiple questions.
  15. 15. General rules for designing good survey instruments  If a survey is to be interviewer administered, wording of the questions must constitute a complete and adequate script such that when the interviewer reads the question as worded, the respondent will be fully prepared to answer the question.  If definitions are to be given, give them before the question itself is asked.  A question should end with the question itself. If there are response alternatives, arrange the questions so that they constitute the final part.  All respondents should understand the kind of answer that constitutes an adequate answer to a question.
  16. 16. General rules for designing good survey instruments Avoid questions that begin with adverbs: how when, where, where, why, to what extent. Such questions do not specify the terms of an adequate answer. Specify the number of responses to be given to question for which more than one answer is possible. Survey instruments should be designed so that the task of reading questions, follow instructions, and recording answers are as easy as possible for interviewers and respondents.
  17. 17. Presurvey evaluation questions Before the actual survey is done, testing should be done to find out if respondents can understand it, if they can perform the tasks required, and if interviewers will read it as recorded. Some steps: Focus group discussion Do the questions appropriately cover what respondents are suppose to describe? Are the response tasks that the questions will pose tasks that respondents are able and willing to perform? Do the words or descriptions proposed in the questions convey consistent meaning, so that respondents have a common understanding of question they are to answer?
  18. 18. Presurvey evaluation questions Intensive individual interview Find out how respondents understand the questions Respondents are brought to special settings like the laboratory Reading questions to respondents Field pretesting
  19. 19. Guide to questionnaire construction Match your objectives with your questions Keep the language pitched to the level of the respondents. Try to pick words that have the same meaning for everyone. Avoid long questions Do not assume that that your respondents possess factual information, or first hand opinions. Establish the frame of reference you have in mind. In forming a question, either suggest all possible alternatives to the respondent or don’t suggest any.
  20. 20. Presurvey evaluation questions Protect your respondents ego. If you’re after unpleasant orientations, give your respondent a chance to express his positive feelings first so that he’s not put in an unfavorable light. Ex. What do you like about X? What don’t you like about X? Decide whether you need a direct question, an indirect question, or an indirect followed by a direct question. Decide whether the question should be open or closed. Decide whether general or specific questions are needed.
  21. 21. Presurvey evaluation questions Avoid biased or leading questions Phrase questions so that they are not unnecessarily objectionable. Decide whether a personal or impersonal question will obtain the better response. Questions should be limited to a single idea or a single reference.
  22. 22. 22 Examples of Response Formats Multiple response item: Single-response item
  23. 23. 23 Examples of Response Formats Lickert Scale
  24. 24. 24 Examples of Response Formats Verbal frequency scale
  25. 25. 25 Examples of Response Formats Ordinal scale
  26. 26. 26 Examples of Response Formats Forced Ranking Scale Paired Comparison Scale
  27. 27. 27 Examples of Response Formats Comparative Scale
  28. 28. 28 Examples of Response Formats Linear Numeric Scale
  29. 29. 29 Examples of Response Formats Semantic differential scale
  30. 30. 30 Examples of Response Formats Adjective checklist Semantic distance scale
  31. 31. 31 Examples of Response Formats Fixed sum scale
  32. 32. 32 Examples of Response Formats Multiple rating list
  33. 33. 33 Examples of Response Formats Multiple rating matrix
  34. 34. 34 Examples of Response Formats Diagram scale
  35. 35. 35 Examples of Response Formats Graphic scale
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