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Questionnaire Design

By Varun Kesavan
varunkesavan@yahoo.com

Objectives
Objectives

To elucidate the meaning and vital aspects of


questionnaire.

To elucidate the three vital stages of the questionnaire


design process.

To provide an understanding

about pre-construction

phase of the questionnaire.

To provide an understanding about construction phase


of the questionnaire.

To provide an understanding about post-construction


phase of the questionnaire.
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What is a
Questionnaire?

A questionnaire consists of formalized and


pre-specified set of questions designed to
obtain responses from potential respondents.

Questionnaire design process requires a careful


attention to each step as the questionnaire or
research instrument should be adapted to the
specific cultural environment and should not
be biased in terms of any one culture (Malhotra
et al., 1996).

Questionnaire Design

Questionnaire
process

design

in

which

contemplates

various

considers

characterizing

is

the

researcher

question

number
the

systematic

survey

of

formats,
factors

at

hand,

ultimately words the various questions very


carefully, and organizes the questionnaires
layout.
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The Functions of a
Questionnaire

Translates

the

research

objectives

into

specific questions.

Standardizes

those

questions

and

the

response categories.

Fosters cooperation and motivation.

Serves

as

permanent

records

of

the

research.
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Why use a questionnaire?


Merits and Demerits

Merits
Can target large number of people
Reach respondents in widely dispersed
locations
Can be relatively low cost in time and money
Relatively easy to get information from people
quickly
Standardised and structured questions
Analysis can be straight-forward and responses
pre-coded.

Demerits
Low response rate bias, lack of confidence
in results
Unsuitable for some people

e.g. poor literacy, visually impaired, young


children, not online

Question wording can have major effect on


answers
Misunderstandings cannot be corrected
Can be difficult to account for cultural and
language differences.

TYPES OF QUESTIONNAIRE

1. Postal questionnaire - The questionnaire is given or


posted to the participant, who completes it in his or
her own time. The participant then posts the
completed questionnaire back to the researcher.
Alternatively, the questionnaire may be emailed to
the respondent for completion online.
2. Online questionnaire - Respondents are able to
complete the questionnaire electronically, and
results are downloaded by the researcher.

3.Telephone

questionnaire

The

researcher

questions the participant over the telephone and the


researcher fills in the responses.
4. Face to face questionnaire - The researcher and
participant

are

in

the

same

location,

and

the

researcher asks the questions face to face.

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Questionnaire Design Process

Designing

of

the

questionnaire

is

systematic process. This section explores


the systematic process of questionnaire
design in three phases:

Pre-construction phase

Construction phase

Post-construction phase

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Steps in questionnaire design process


QUESTIONNAIRE
QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN
DESIGN
PROCESS
PROCESS

PART
PART -1
-1 PRE
PRE
CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCTION STAGE
STAGE

Specify
Specify the
the required
required number
number of
of
information
based
on
research
information based on research
objectives
objectives

PART
CONSTRUCTION
PART -2
-2 CONSTRUCTION
STAGE
STAGE

Decision
Decision regarding
regarding question
question format:
format:
Structured
versus
unstructured
Structured versus unstructured

Decision
Decision regarding
regarding question
question wording
wording
An
An overview
overview of
of
respondents
respondents
characteristics
characteristics

Decision
Decision regarding
regarding selecting
selecting
an
an appropriate
appropriate survey
survey
technique
technique

Decision
Decision regarding
regarding question
question
sequencing
sequencing
Decision
Decision regarding
regarding question
question response
response
choice
choice
Decision
Decision regarding
regarding questionnaire
questionnaire
layout
layout
Produce
Produce first
first draft
draft of
of the
the
questionnaire
questionnaire

PART
PART 3
3 POST
POST
CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCTION
STAGE
STAGE

Go
Go for
for the
the pre
pre
testing
testing of
of
the
questionnaire
the questionnaire
Revising
Revising the
the questionnaire
questionnaire
based
based on
on the
the inputs
inputs
obtained
obtained from
from pre
pre -- testing
testing
Revised
Revised final
final draft
draft of
of the
the
questionnaire
questionnaire

Administration
Administration of
of the
the
questionnaire
and
questionnaire and
obtaining
obtaining responses
responses
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Phase I: Pre - Construction Phase

Phase I is the pre-construction phase of the


questionnaire design process. It consists of
three steps:

Specific required information in the light of


research objective,

An overview of respondents characteristics,


Decision regarding selecting an appropriate
survey technique.
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Step 1: Specific
in the Light of

Required Information
Research Objective

The first and the foremost important decision relates to


finding the required information through a questionnaire.

To generate specific information, the researcher should


clearly define the objective and the other research
components such as theoretical model, research
questions, and hypotheses.

Clarity in all these components is very important as


these only will provide the base of specific information to
be collected through survey.

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Step 2: An Overview of
Respondents Characteristics

While

collecting

the

information,

an

overview

of

the

respondents characteristics is a vital consideration.

A researcher must construct the questionnaire in the light of the


respondents profile.

Even while constructing a questionnaire, a researcher has to


keep the profile of a probable respondent in mind.

Various factors such as the respondents qualification, age,


experience, income, marital status, occupation, and so on
have a decisive and impactful role in conducting a research.
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Step 3: Decision Regarding


Selecting an Appropriate Survey
Technique

While constructing a questionnaire, a deep


thinking process is required to select an
appropriate survey technique.

Various survey techniques are available in


collecting datas like Personal interviews,
Telephonic interviews, mail interviews and
electronic interviews, etc.

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Phase II: Construction Phase

Phase

II

is

the

real

construction

phase

of

the

questionnaire design process.

It mainly consists of six steps:


Decision regarding question format :structured questions
versus unstructured questions.

Decision regarding question relevance and wording.

Decision regarding question sequencing.

Decision regarding question response choice.

Decision regarding the questionnaire layout.

Producing first draft of the questionnaire.


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Step
1:
Question
Questions
Questionsuse
Questionnaires

Decision
Regarding
Format:
Structured
Versus
Unstructured
two types of question formats. These are

open-ended questions and closed-ended questions.

In the case of a closed-ended question, the respondent has


to format the judgment to fit the response categories and
when open-ended questions are used, the judgment has to
be verbalized into a preliminary answer (DeLeeuw, 2001).

The closed ended question format can be further


divided into dichotomous, multiple-choice questions,
and scales. The following sections focus on open-ended
questions and closed-ended questions.
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Open-ended Questions

Example for open ended question

One of the major limitations is to handle the


Interviewer and the interpretation bias.

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Closed-ended Questions

Closed-ended questions are structured questions. The question


structure does matter (Connolly et al., 2005).

The closed-ended questions provide response alternative to the


respondents instead of giving them a free-to-express response option.

The choice offered to the respondents can be either in the form of a


rating system or a set of response alternatives.

These response alternatives are presented to the respondents and they


select the most appropriate one.

The closed-ended questionnaires are generally cheaper, more reliable,


and faster to code, and analyse the collected data (Swamy, 2007).

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Dichotomous Questions

Dichotomous questions have only two


response alternatives usually presenting the
two extremes yes or no. To make the
alternatives balanced, the researchers often
present a third neutral alternative dont
know.

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Multiple-Choice Questions

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Step 2: Decision Regarding


Question Wording

The negative wordings impact the process of interpreting the questions,


leading at least some respondents to misinterpret how to respond and,
thus, reducing or destroying the usefulness of the questions or the
series of questions (Johnson et al., 2004).

In some cases of conducting personal interviews, the researchers feel


that they will be able to overcome the wrong wording during the
discussion, but they suggest a different understanding.

The effects of question wording on response accuracy did not seem to


be moderated by the respondents knowledge gained via discussion
(Bickart et al., 2006).
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Decision parameters regarding question wording

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FOUR DOS OF QUESTION


WORDING

THE QUESTION SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON A SINGLE ISSUE OR


TOPIC.

THE QUESTION SHOULD BE BRIEF.

THE QUESTION SHOULD BE GRAMMATICALLY SIMPLE SENTENCE .

THE QUESTION SHOULD BE CRYSTAL CLEAR.

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Four Do Nots of Questionnaire


Wording
1.

The question should not lead the respondent to a particular answer.


Dont you see any problem with using credit cards for online
purchases?

2.

The question should not have loaded wording or phrasing.

Use

universal beliefsSince our Founding Fathers gave us the right to bear


arms
3.

The question should not use words that overstate the conditiondo not
use dramatics. Would you buy sunglasses that protect your eyes
from harmful ultraviolent rays that cause blindness?

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Question Wordings Must Be


Simple and Easy to Understand

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Vague or Ambiguous Words


Must Be Avoided

Some words such as often, occasionally


and usually, how long, how much, and
reasonably well may be confusing for a
respondent because these words specify a
specific time frame.

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Double-Barrelled Questions
Must Be Avoided

Double-barrelled questions are those with wordings


such as and or or. In a double-barrelled question, a
respondent may agree to one part of the question but
not to the other part.

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Avoid Leading and Loaded Questions

A leading question is the one which clearly reveals the researchers opinion
about the answer to the question.

E.g. Many people are using dry cleaning less because of improved wash and
wear clothes. How do you feel wash and wear clothes have affected your
use of dry cleaning facilities in the past 4 years?
____Use less ____No change ____ Use more

Loaded question A question that suggests a socially desirable answer or is


emotionally charged.

E.g. In the light of todays farm crisis, it would be in the publics best interest to
have the federal government require labeling of imported meat.
___Strongly Agree
__Agree
___Uncertain ___Disagree ___Strongly
Disagree

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Split-Ballot Technique

A leading question generally emphasizes either the


positive or negative aspect of the question.

Sometimes, it becomes necessary to ask a question with


either the positive or negative aspect.

In this situation, a split-ballot technique is used to


avoid bias due to positive or negative aspect of the
question.

This technique involves the construction of a single


question in two alternative phrases, and the question
based on one phrase is administered to half of the
respondents and the question based on the other
phrase is administered to the other half of the
respondents.
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Split-ballot technique

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Avoid Using Overstated Words

The answer will always be overblown due to the


first part of the question, which generates a worry
in the mind of the respondent and results in a
positive answer, which is not possible otherwise.
A more poised way of asking the same question is
shown below.

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Implied Assumptions Must Be Avoided

Above

question has an implicit assumption


that the discount policy on bulk purchase
offered by Company A is working excellent
and by answering yes, the company will
continue its policy.

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Respondents Memory Should


Not Be Overtaxed

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Generalization and Estimation


Must Be Avoided

Generalization means respondents belief,


what must happen or what should happen.

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Respondents Ability to Answer


Must Be Considered

A question targeted to officers older than 55


years to assess the importance of Internet
banking is as follows:

Targeting following question to young respondents may


not be an appropriate choice.

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Step 3:Decision Regarding


Question Sequencing

Question sequence also plays a key role in generating the


respondents interest and motivation to answer the question.
Questions should have a logical sequencing in the questionnaire
and should not be placed abruptly.

To facilitate the responses, a researcher has to follow some logical


steps in sequencing the questions in the questionnaire. This
arrangement usually requires the considerations as shown in
Figure.

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Decision parameters
regarding question sequence

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Screening Questions

Researchers

generally

begin

with

some

screening

questions to make sure that the target respondent is


qualified for the interview.

In some cases, when the researcher is very sure about the


qualification status of the respondent, he or she does not
incorporate the screening question and starts from some
opening questions.

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Opening Questions

The opening questions should be simple, encouraging, and


trust building. From the research objective point of view,
these

questions may sometimes be little irrelevant

but

should be good initiators.


These questions should not seek in-depth information and
should be as general as possible.
For example, a microwave company, trying to assess shift
in consumer attitude from traditional way of cooking, should
ask a first opening question as follows:

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Transition Statements

The movement from one set of questions to another set requires transition statements.

For example, a mineral water bottle manufacturing company is encouraged with the
expanding market.

The company wants to assess the potential future market and hence conducted a survey on
non-users.

Its researchers have identified various variables to get the potential use, of which
awareness and taste are important.

It has prepared the first 11 questions with the first 5 questions based on the awareness and
the next 6 questions on taste.

After asking the first set of 5 questions, a researcher moves to the second set of 6 questions
to get the potential consumer feeling for mineral water taste.

Thus, before asking the next set of 6 questions, a transition statement is required to make the
respondent familiar with the coming questions.

Hence, a transition statement Now, I would like to understand your opinion about the
mineral water taste will develop respondents connectivity for the next set of 6 questions
related to taste, and he or she will be in a comfortable state of mind to answer these
questions.

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Difficult to Answer Questions

Difficult to answer, sensitive, or complicated questions should


be placed later in the questionnaire.

Placing it first will confuse the respondent and he or she will tend to
terminate the interview process.

Asking difficult questions first in a telephone interview reduces a


respondents interest in the interview process and he or she tends
to terminate the interview. Under telephone interview conditions,
substantively related questions affect the responses to the target
question only when asked first (Schwarz & Hippler, 1995).

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Identification and Categorization


Questions

Identification questions are used to generate some basic identification


information such as name, mailing address, office phone number,
personal phone number, or cell phone number.

Categorization questions are mainly used to generate demographic


information.

For example, researchers generally want to generate the information


related to age, experience, gender, and occupation of the
respondents.

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Logical Order of Questioning

In a questionnaire, the questions must flow in a logical sequence. There


are at least three approaches to suggest the roadmap to place the
questions in a logical sequence; they are funnel technique, work
technique, and sections technique.

Funnel technique suggests asking general questions first and then the
specific questions.

Work technique suggests that difficult-to-answer, sensitive, or


complicated questions should be placed later in the questionnaire.

The third technique is the section technique in which questions are


placed in different sections with respect to some common base.

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Step 4: Decision Regarding


Question Response Choice

It is important to understand that too many response


choices will burden the respondent and he or she will
be perplexed while answering.

Few response choices will not be able to cover all


ranges of possible alternatives.

As a general rule, the researchers present a question


with five to seven response alternatives.

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Step 5: Decision Regarding


Questionnaire Layout

Questionnaire layout is important to enhance the response rate. A recent


study (Lagarace & Washburn, 1995) revealed that a user-friendly format,
and to some extent colour, is valuable to increase mail survey response
rate.

The appearance of a questionnaire is particularly important in mail


surveys because the instrument, along with the preliminary letter and/ or
cover letter, must sell itself and convince the recipient to complete and
return it (Boser, 1990).

It has been observed that the respondent emphasizes the questions


that are placed at the top of the questionnaire compared with that at the
bottom.
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Step 6: Producing First Draft


of the Questionnaire

Printing on a poor, quality paper or an unprofessional look of


the questionnaire may generate a non-serious feeling among the
respondents.

So, the questionnaire may be printed on a good, quality paper


and must have a professional look.

The appearance of the front cover on a mail questionnaire and the


nature of first questions have been purported to have an important
influence

on

the

respondents

decision

to

complete

the

questionnaire (Frey, 1991).

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Phase III: Post-Construction


Phase

Phase III is the post-construction phase of the


questionnaire design process. It consists of four steps:

Pre-testing of the questionnaire.

Revisiting the questionnaire based on the inputs


obtained from the pre-testing.

Revising final draft of the questionnaire.

Administering
responses.

the

questionnaire

and

obtaining

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Step 1: Pre-Testing of the


Questionnaire

Pre-testing

of

the

questionnaire

involves

administering

the

questionnaire to a small sample of the population to identify and


eliminate the potential problems of the questionnaire, if any.

Testing a questionnaire can be a time-consuming process, and this


stage of questionnaire has often been overlooked in the past in
researchers eagerness to start collecting data (Williams, 2003).

Researchers generally use two common procedures to pre-test:


protocol analysis and debriefing.

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Step 1: Pre-Testing of the Questionnaire (Cont.)


Using protocol analysis, a researcher asks the respondent to think aloud while
answering the question.

Debriefing is an interview conducted when a respondent has filled the


questionnaire.

After completing, the respondents are informed that the questionnaire they have
just filled was a pre-test questionnaire and are requested to share their views
about various dimensions of the questionnaire.

They are also requested to find out the problems with the questionnaire, which
they realized while filling it.

While taking a decision about the sample size for pre-testing, as a thumb
rule, a researcher should keep the nature of population diverse in mind.

More heterogeneity in population requires relatively large size of the sample


compared with the situation when population is relatively homogeneous.
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Step 2: Revisiting the


on the Inputs Obtained

Questionnaire Based
from Pre-Testing

To enhance the accuracy, after incorporating suggestions from the pre-testing, a


researcher can go for second pre-testing.

It is always possible that the second pre-testing may also reveal some of the
problems of the questionnaire.

Pre-testing of the questionnaire might have provided many inputs in a


subjective manner.

At this stage, the researcher must objectively incorporate all the inputs
obtained from the pre-testing exercise.

All the parameters related to the question wording (as discussed in the
previous sections) must be carefully considered.

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Step 3: Revised Final Draft of


the Questionnaire
At this stage, the researcher once again carefully examines the
questionnaire.
Insertions and deletions of the previous stage must be re-checked to
provide the desired accuracy.
The researcher makes the questionnaire ready to administer by
eliminating all the minute mistakes and tries to make it error free.
After careful examination of all the incorporations obtained from pretesting, the researcher is now ready to have the final draft of the
questionnaire and administers to the sample taken from a target
population.
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Step 4: Administration of the


Questionnaire and Obtaining Responses
At

this

stage,

the

researchers

administer

the

questionnaire to the respondents and obtain the


responses.
These responses are coded, data are tabulated, and
appropriate statistical techniques are applied to
analyze the data.

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Questionnaire Administration Modes

Main modes of questionnaire administration are:

Face-to-face questionnaire administration, where an interviewer presents


the items orally.

Paper-and-pencil questionnaire administration, where the items are


presented on paper.

Computerized questionnaire administration, where the items are presented


on the computer.

Adaptive computerized questionnaire administration, where a selection of


items is presented on the computer, and based on the answers on those
items, the computer selects following items optimized for the testee's
estimated ability or trait.
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Computer-Assisted Questionnaire Design

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POPULAR ONLINE SURVEY TOOLS

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Survey Types and Survey Examples

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CODING THE QUESTIONNAIRE


Codes are numbers placed with question responses to facilitate data entry and
analysis.
THE BASIC RULES FOR QUESTIONNAIRE CODING:

EVERY CLOSED ENDED QUESTION SHOULD HAVE A CODE NUMBER ASSOCIATED


WITH EVERY POSSIBLE RESPONSE.

USE SINGLE DIGIT NUMBERS, BEGINING WITH 1, INCREMENTING THEM BY 1 AND


USING THE LOGICAL DIRECTION OF THE RESPONSE SCALE.

USE THE SAME CODING SYSTEM FOR QUESTIONS WITH IDENTICAL RESPONSE
OPTIONS REGARDLESS OF WHERE THESE QUESTIONS ARE POSITIONED IN THE
QUESTIONNAIRES

REMEMBER THAT A CHECK ALL THAT APPLY QUESTION IS JUST A SPECIAL CASE OF A
YES OR NO QUESTION, SO USE A 1 (YES) AND 0 (NO) CODING SYSTEM.

WHENEVER POSSIBLE, SET UP THE CODING SYSTEM BEFORE THE QUESTIONNAIRE


IS FINALIZED.
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Maximising the response


rate
You are about to carry out a
survey using a questionnaire,
what will you do to maximise the
response rate?

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Response rate
The proportion of people who respond:
# that answered = response rate
# you contacted

Example: If you distribute 50 questionnaires and


you get 25 questionnaires back, your response
rate is 50%.

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Techniques for maximising


the response rate

Incentives
Small future incentives, e.g. prize draw
Understanding why their input is important

Reminders

Confidentiality

Anonymity

Pre-paid return envelopes


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Techniques for maximising


the response rate

Good design
Thoughtful layout, easy to follow, simple questions,
appearance, length, degree of interest and
importance, ethical issues, thank for taking part

Pre-notification
Explanation of selection
Sponsorship, e.g. letter of introduction /
recommendation
Cover letter

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REFERENCES

WILLIAM . G. ZIGMUND, BUSINESS RESEARCH METHODS,


QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGNS PG NO 329 365.

DONALD R COOPER & PAMELA S SCHINDLER, , BUSINESS


RESEARCH METHODS, QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGNS, PG NO
356 377.

NAVAL

BAJPAI,

BUSINESS

RESEARCH

METHODS,

QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGNS, PG NO 70 89.

ALVIN

BURNS

&

RONALD

F. BUSH,

MARKETING

RESEARCH, Pg. NO 298 321.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/customer-satisfactionsurvey-template/

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Thank You

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