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10 step guide to questionnaire design

  1. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Produced by RCU Limited
  2. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 1 Keep it simple and make it interesting. • Be concise when designing your questionnaire. • Short, clearly worded questions can get you much more reliable answers, but also make it interesting. • Have some questions towards the beginning of the questionnaire that really get to the heart of what you want the respondent to tell you.
  3. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 2 Keep it short. • Keep questionnaires short and to the point. • Don’t be tempted to try and throw in additional questions which are not relevant to your specific research objectives. • If your questionnaire gets too long then the respondent’s attention and commitment will wane. • If you have some very important questions towards the end of a long a drawn out questionnaire you may not be able to trust the results that they give you.
  4. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 3 Use language your respondents would use. • Always use words that your respondents would understand and would naturally use themselves. • If you use overly complex language in either the instructions, the questions or the response options, you would again be unable to trust the results that come back. • It’s always a good idea to pre-test your survey questions with a small group of the intended audience before you actually administer it for real.
  5. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 4 Think about the order of the questions. • Research shows that the way we answer one set of questions is closely determined by the questions which immediately preceded it. • E.g. if you ask a specific question on facilities and follow this immediately with a question on recommendations, you will find that the recommendations you receive will be closely correlated with issues concerning facilities. • Because of this it is a good idea to ask more general questions before going on to specifics.
  6. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 5 Avoid subjective terms. • Avoid using terms in the question or response options that are open to wide interpretation. • Research shows that terms such as ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ are widely differently interpreted by different respondents. • Better to use more specific and precise terms such as ‘once a week’ or ‘twice a week’ or you could use terms such as ‘always’ or ‘never’ to ensure interpretation is much more precise and regular.
  7. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 6 Include a middle response option if it reflects what some respondents would want to say. • There is a bit of a myth in questionnaire design that says never use an odd number of response options as people will automatically get drawn to the middle option. • In fact this isn’t true and you are more likely to distort the responses you get if you don’t provide a middle option if that is what the respondents actually want to tell you.
  8. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 7 Avoid double negatives. • There is a very common question structure known as the Likert scale, that is where you are given a prompt and then asked to either ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’... right through to ‘strongly disagree’. • If your prompt itself is written with negative terminology such as ‘teachers don’t consult with students’, you have to say ‘strongly disagree’ to actually agree with the question. • This can clearly get very confusing and you couldn’t always trust the responses.
  9. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 8 Make scales logical. • When attaching a scale or labels to the response options make sure that they make sense. • Number ratings really should run from low to high (e.g. 0 to 10). • Research shows that people cope best when these response options are clearly labelled (e.g. ‘good’ or ‘very good’). • There is also contrasting evidence to show that we get the most accurate answers with quite a wide scale or range of options. • In practice it is much harder to provide clear labels for all the points on a 10 point scale compared to a 5 point scale.
  10. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 9 Don’t forget zero! • One of the more useful scales that you can use is a rating out of ten. • If you are going to use this scale it is important to remember zero as a response option. • If your scale only runs from 1 to 10, you might think of the mid-point as 5. In fact this isn’t true as the mid-point is actually 5.5 and you may see an artificial clustering of responses around 5. • Therefore it is better to use a 0 to 10 scale and make it clear in the question prompt.
  11. 10 Step Guide to Questionnaire Design Step 10 Put the personal questions at the end. • It’s tempting when designing a questionnaire to put some easy questions at the beginning that everyone can answer (e.g age, gender and ethnicity). • If the survey is anonymous and some of the issues covered in it or are quite sensitive, this will affect the way people answer later questions as they can worry that they may be identifiable from their earlier responses. • As a matter of good practice it is better to put those sorts of questions at the end of the questionnaire, even if that feels unnatural to do.