Questionnaire

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Questionnaire

  1. 1. Questionnaire Questionnaire is printed form for data collection which includes questions or statements to which the subject is expected to respond often anonymously. In general the word questionnaire refers to a device for getting answers to questions by using a form which the respondent fills in by himself. As a matter of fact questionnaire is systematic compilation of questions that are subject to a sample of population from which information is desired Questionnaire is a kind of ‘stimulus’ Herbert (1989) which provokes the respondents to give definite information. Question forming is common to surveys, tests, interviews and questionnaires. But questions are designed accordingly to meet the needs of a certain tool of research. For an example in a questionnaire, the questions are written while in an interview they are oral. As we know there is a lot of difference in written and spoken samples of languages so the format for the questions will definitely different for different tools of research. Attitude, motivation, self concept, age, previous knowledge etc are the variables which can be measured through questionnaires. Questionnaires are used in connection with many modes of observation in research. They serve as an essential tool in research. The format of a questionnaire is as important as the wording of the questions asked. An improperly designed questionnaire can lead respondents to skip questions, confuse respondents and in the extreme, lead people to refuse to respond. Question Types The well structured questions are easy to analyse. Youngman (1986) have described seven types of questions which are listed here under two main categories: 1. Verbal or Open 2. Closed or structured 1. Verbal or Open
  2. 2. Here in these question type, the respondent is free to give answer in his own words i.e. expected response is a word, a phrase or an extended comment. 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 collecting subjective data. Here the range of responses is not tightly defined. Response to verbal quest on can produce useful information. i 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. 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 which increases therate of non-response. 2. Closed or structured This form of questions requires short and check responses. It may provide space for making ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or just a ‘check’ from a list of suggested responses. The main advantages claimed are as: 1. It is very easy to respond to such a question 2. It takes a little time to answer 3. It keeps the respondents in the subject 4. It is relatively subjective 5. It is fairly easy to tabulate and analyse Draw backs of the closed form: The closed form does not provide any opportunity to the respondent to express his views very clearly as there is no scope for explanatory information. Closed format questions usually take the form of a multiple-choice question. They are easy for the respondent to give the required information in a very explicit way. Closed or structured questions can be further divided into the following six types: (i ) List
  3. 3. A list of items is offered to the respondent, any of which may be selected as a response. For an example a question may ask about qualifications and the respondent may have several of the qualification listed and one item from the list can be selected. (ii) Category The response is one only of a given set of categories. For an example, if age categories are provided as (20-29, 30-39, etc) the respondent can only fit into one category. (iii) Ranking In ranking questions, the respondent is asked to place some items in rank order. For an example the respondent may be asked to place qualities or characteristics in orders of preference. (iv) Scale There are various stages of scaling devices (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio) which may be used in questionnaires but they required careful handling. (v ) Quantity Here the response is a number (exact or approximate) giving the amount of some characteristics. And one response can be selected by the respondent. (vi) Grid A table or grid is provided to record answers to two or more questions at the same time e.g. How many TEFL students are there in the following classes? 0-5 5-10 10-15 15+ Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Student have discovered that once they have tried and become familiar with different ways of analyzing and presenting questionnaire responses to list, category, ranking, scale, quantity or grid questions , they are able to select the most appropriate format when they come to stage of designing and analyzing data in their project.
  4. 4. Principles for Designing a Questionnaire Questionnaires are structured conservation with a purpose. The format of a questionnaire is as important as the nature and wording of the questions asked. An improperly designed questionnaire can lead respondents to miss the questions and confuse them and in the extreme, lead them to refuse to respond. The purpose of asking questions is to elicit information from the respondent. Some general rules should be followed in the design and wording of questions and statements. 1. Making Items clear: This is probably the area that causes the greatest source of mistakes in questionnaires. Questions must be clear, concise, and unambiguous. The goal is to eliminate the chance that the question will mean different things to different people. If the designer fails to do this, then essentially participants will be answering different questions with different understanding. Questionnaire items must be clear and unambiguous. They should be precise so that the respondent knows exactly what question he/she is expected to answer. To this end, it is best to phrase your questions empirically if possible and to avoid the use of unnecessary adjectives. For example, if asking a question about frequency, rather than supplying choices that are open to interpretation such as: (i) Very Often (ii) Often (iii) Sometimes (iv) Rarely (v) Never It is better to quantify the choices, such as: (i) Every Day or More (ii) 2-6 Times a Week (iii) About Once a Week (iv) About Once a Month (v) Never
  5. 5. 2. Phrasing: Most adjectives, verbs, and nouns in English have either a positive or negative connotation. Two words may have equivalent meaning, yet one may be a compliment and the other an insult. Consider the two words quot;child-likequot; and quot;childishquot;, which have virtually identical meaning. A more subtle example can be made with verbs that have neither strong negative or positive overtones. Consider the following two questions: Do you agree with the Governor's plan to oppose increased development of wetlands? Do you agree with the Governor's plan to support curtailed development of wetlands? They both ask the same thing, but will likely produce different data. One asks in a positive way, and the other in a negative. It is impossible to predict how the outcomes will vary, so one method to counter this is to be aware of different ways to word questions and provide a mix in questionnaire. If the selected sample is very large, several versions may be prepared and distributed to cancel out these effects. 3. Hypothetical Questions Hypothetical are based, at best, on supposition and, at worst, on fantasy. A simple question such as: If you were governor, what would you do to improve literacy in Pakistan? This force the respondent to give thought to something he may have never considered. This does not produce clear and consistent data representing real opinion. Do not ask hypothetical questions. 4. Leading Questions: A leading question is one that forces or implies a certain type of answer. It is easy to make this mistake not in the question, but in the choice of answers. A closed format question must supply answers that not only cover the whole range of responses, but that are also equally distributed throughout the range. An obvious, nearly comical, example would be a question that supplied these answers choices: (i) Superb
  6. 6. (ii) Excellent (iii) Great (iv) Good (v) Fair (vi)Not so Great Clearly, the negative response covers too wide a range of opinions as well but here is only one negative choice. A better way would be to ask the same question but supply the following choices: (i) Totally Agree (ii) Partially Agree (iii) Neither Agree or Disagree (iv) Partially Disagree (v) Totally Agree This example is also poor in the way it asks the question. It's choice of words makes it a leading question. 5. Avoiding Double-Barreled Questions: Never ask for a single answer to a combination of questions. In general, whenever the words appear in a question or questionnaire statement, check whether this is a double-barreled question. 6. Asking Relevant Questions: Questions asked should be relevant to most respondents. Disregard responses to fictitious issues. 7. Using short Items: Assume that respondents read items quickly and provide quick answers. Therefore, provide clear, short items that will not be misinterpreted under such conditions.
  7. 7. 8. Avoiding negative Terms: Negations (e.g. the use of the word quot;notquot;) will often is read over, leading to misinterpretations. 9. Avoiding Biased Items and Terms: The manner in which data is sought determines the nature of the data received. The identification of an attitude or position with a prestigious or popular person, for example, can bias responses (e.g. President Clinton vs. Adolf Hitler). 10. Avoid the Ambiguity of Language: When we say that there is an art of asking questions that give unbiased answers we mean exactly that. There are rules that can be followed, but there is an art that comes with practice and trial and error to asking questions fairly. 11. Avoid Embarrassing Questions: Embarrassing questions dealing with personal or private matters should be avoided. Your data is only as good as the trust and care that your respondents give you. If you make them feel uncomfortable, you will lose their trust. Do not ask embarrassing questions. 12. Prestige Bias: Prestige bias is the tendency for respondents to answer in a way that make them feel better. People may not lie directly, but may try to put a better light on themselves. The best means to deal with prestige bias is to make the questionnaire as private as possible. The farther away the critical eye of the researcher is, the more honest the answers. 13. Avoid Technical Terms and Ethnic Expressions Avoid the use of colloquial or ethnic expressions that might not be equally used by all participants
  8. 8. . Technical terms that assume a certain background should also be avoided. 14. Principle of confidentiality: The information provided should be kept confidential and secrete. Appearance and Layout of the Questionnaire An excellently prepared questionnaire will lose its impact if it looks untidy. So layout, format and appearance of questionnaire are very important. There are no hard and fast rules about layout, but a few common-sense guidelines are given here that will help improve the appearance of questionnaire. 1. Questionnaire should be typed are printed. 2. Instructions should be clearly typed e.g. in bold are in capital with different font. 3. Spacing between the questions will help the respondent and the researcher while analyzing the questionnaire. 4. Questionnaire should be at minimum number of sheets 5. Keep any response boxes in line towards the right of the sheet. This will make it easy for respondents and will help researcher to get information. 6. If you intend to use a computer programme, allow spacing on the right of the sheet for coding. 7. Look critically at your questionnaire and ask yourself what impression it would give if you were the respondent. 8. Take care over the order of the questions. Leave sensitive issues to later in the questionnaire. Start with straight forward, easy-to-complete questions and move on to the more complex topics. So questions should be sorted out before start writing a questionnaire. Writing the Questionnaire At this point, we assume that we have already decided what kind of data we are to measure and formulated the objectives of the investigation, and decided on a participant group. Now we must compose our questions. One obvious argument in favor of the beginning of the questionnaire is that normally
  9. 9. background questions are easier to answer and can ease the respondent into the questionnaire. It is important to ask only those background questions that are necessary e.g. do not ask income of the respondent unless there is at least some rational for suspecting a variance across income levels. There is often only a fine line between background and personal information. In general, there are two types of questions one will ask, I. Open Format II .Closed Format. An obvious advantage of Closed Format Questionnaire is that the variety of responses is wider and more truly reflect the opinions of the respondents. This increases the likelihood of 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 his/her unabashed ideas for changes or improvements. There is no clear consensus on the number of options that should be given in a 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 possible answers per questions. Piloting the Questionnaire Now that you've completed you questonnaire, it is still not ready to send it out. Just like i any manufactured product, your questionnaire needs to go through quality testing. Researcher should try best to give the questionnaire a trial run. For this one can take help from friends, class fellows, colleagues are even family members. Ideally it should be tried out on a group similar to the population of the study. The purpose of the piloting exercise is to find out the time taken to complete the questionnaire and to see whether wording and format create any problem. Researcher will then review the questionnaire with the test takers and discuss all points that were in any way confusing and work together to solve the problems. He will then produce a new improved questionnaire. The following questions can be asked to the respondents in order to reproduce a better questionnaire: 1. How long it take you to complete?
  10. 10. 2. Were the instructions clear? 3. Were any of the questions unclear or ambiguous? If so, will you say which and why? 4. Did you object to answering any of the questions? 5. In your opinion, has major topic been omitted? 6. Was the layout of the questionnaire clear/attractive? 7. Any comments? The responses to the above questions will enable the researcher to revise the questionnaire ready for the main distribution. Distribution and Return of Questionnaire Questionnaire can be distributed: 1. Personally 2. By Post Researcher should try first to distribute questionnaire personally if not possible mailing services can be used. Self-addressed stamped envelop should be included with questionnaire. Two weeks is a reasonable time for completion. Give the precise day and date for the return rather the instruction to return the questionnaire with in two weeks A letter is sent with questionnaire explaining the purpose of the research which is called a cover letter or Forwarding Letter. A specimen is given here:
  11. 11. None-response: Moser and Kalton (1971) pointed out ‘non-response is a problem’ as high rate of non- response affects the validity and reliability of the findings of the study. Scott (1961) accepts the non-response rate up to 10% as reasonable but higher than this can distort the results. Researcher should keep a careful record of the date questionnaire were distributed and the date they were returned. Generally there is a good response at first and then returns slow down. Inevitably, all of the questionnaires will not be returned by the date specified. To follow up non- respondents a second letter and questionnaire will have to be sent. This second letter is called follow up letter. A week after the original date for return, follow up letter should be sent. A specimen of the follow up letter is given here:
  12. 12. Analysis of Data In an ideal world, it would be best to wait for all questionnaires to be returned and to glance through all response before beginning to code and record. But in a limited time project it may be necessary to begin record as soon as the first questionnaires are returned. Conclusions Questionnaire design is a long process that demands careful attention. A questionnaire is a powerful evaluation tool and should not be taken lightly. Questionnaires are like any scientific experiment. One does not collect data and then see if they found something interesting. One forms a hypothesis and an experiment that will help prove or disprove the hypothesis. Modern computers have only made the task of collecting and extracting valuable material more efficiently. However, a questionnaire is only as good as the questions it contains. There are many guidelines that must be met before questionnaire can be considered a sound research tool. The majority deal with making the questionnaire understandable and free of bias. Mindful review and testing is necessary to weed out minor mistakes that can cause great changes in meaning and interpretation. When these guidelines are followed, the questionnaire becomes a powerful and
  13. 13. economic evaluation tool Bibliography: 1. Waseem Raazia and Ajaml Malik. (2000), Research Methodology, Islamabad, Allama Iqbal Open University. 2. Nunan, David. (1992), Research Methods in Language Learning, London, Cambridge University Press 3. W, Bruce. (1999), Conducting Educational research, Belmont USA, Wadsworth Group. 4. Rashid, Muhammad. (1987), Educational Research, Islamabad, Allama Iqbal Open University. 5. W, Herbert and Shohamy Elana,(1989), Second language Research Methods, London, Oxford University Press. 6. www.cc.gatech.edu

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