A formal standardized questionnaire is described as a survey instrument for collecting data from individuals about themselves or social units such as schools, health care providers or household. Researchers termed a questionnaire as standardized when the questions given to the respondents are the same and same coding system is applied to all responses. This ensures that the difference in responses to questions contained in questionnaire are also interpreted to reflect the difference among respondents, instead of the differences in the processes that produced the answers(Pandey & Pandey, 2015). There are several steps that involves in the use of questionnaires. The first step is to create questionnaires that seeks to collect the information the research wants. However, it is important to find out whether the same questionnaire is existing from the previous studies. The second step involves administering questionnaires. This follows several processes such as pilot test, sample preparing and informing the respondents about the research. The third step is practical application of questionnaire which include collecting the data, processing the data, analyzing the results and making inferences from the results.
Before creating questionnaire, it is important to access as many as possible questionnaires from previous research and publication related to the same field of research. Through thorough literature review, a researcher is able to determine whether similar questionnaires do exists. If the intended questionnaire is not existing, then the researcher would have to create new questionnaire. It is important to note that usefulness and quality of the information collected through questionnaire entirely depends with how the questions are framed and worded(Siniscalco & Auriat, 2005). Analysis indicated that a well-constructed questionnaire have the following characteristics: motivate respondents to answer, facilitate recall and keep respondents interested. The process of creating questionnaires follows six steps: deciding on what questions to ask, whether to use open-ended or closed questions, types of response format, what is being measured, layout of the questionnaire, reliability, validity and responsiveness.
Choosing the questions to expose to respondents
The questions should focus on what the research needs to know and what it seeks to answer. Before the researcher decided to ask specific question, he/she must establish explicit rationale by asking him/herself why the question is being asked and how the information will be used after collecting. The questions should be created to flow logically starting with introductory and ending with closing questions(Dornyei & Taguchi, 2012). For example, when creating a questionnaire to be used in descriptive research about the quality of health care program, the questions should be presented in the following manner: introduction, awareness of program, health behavior, evaluation of program services, interests in other services, demographics and closing. To comprehensively address the issues in each section of the questionnaire, the researcher needs to list down all the issues that need to be addressed in each section. It is important to remember that each question seeks to collect the information that answers the original research objectives.
Open-ended or closed questions
Open-ended questions are normally used when the researcher seeks to expose questions to the respondents without specific options of responding. It is the respondents that should formulate their own responses(Cohen, et al., 2011). Open-ended questions are considered to be seek unbiased and depth opinion from the respondents. As oppose to closed questions that requires the respondents to choose an option by simply circling or ticking. Closed questions are not suitable when researcher anticipates for multiple response options.
Types of responses formats
Closed questions can be presented in four different response formats: rating, rankings, multiple choice and yes or no. The rating questions requires the respondents to choose an option in the scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 7(Burgess, 2003). The ranking questions requires the respondents to rank a service or a program. The multiple choice questions requires the respondents to choice one answer among the many. While Yes/No question requires the respondents to respond as yes or no.
Types of measurement
The items should be classified in the questionnaires according to the information the research seeks to obtain. These questions seeks different responses from the participants about various areas such as attitude, knowledge, beliefs, behavior and evaluation.
Layout of the questionnaire
The layout of the questionnaire influence the response rate and the accuracy of the feedback(Burgess, 2003). Analysis have shown that a straight forward questionnaire that have clear and easy to follow layout enables the respondents to complete the questions easier.
Validity, reliability and responsiveness
Validity ensures that the questionnaire is measuring what the researcher intend to measure. Validity of the questionnaire is analyzed in four different aspects: face, content, construct and criterion(Dornyei, & Taguchi, 2012). The reliability of the questionnaire should be evaluated based on two factors: internal and test-retest reliability. These two factors ensures that the questions included in the questionnaire measures the same construct and the questions yield the same results under the same conditions if the research was to be done in the same way. The questions should detect change.
Administering the questionnaire
The process of administering questionnaires follows specific procedures which involves selecting the sample, informing the respondents about the research and colleting the data. The samples should be representative and randomly selected in order to avoid biases(Pandey & Pandey, 2015). The data collection may be conducted in three methods: face to face, through telephone and mails. Before administering questionnaires, the respondents should be informed what the research is all about how it is likely to affect their lives. Each respondents should sign a consent letter stating that he/she is taking part in the research through his/her own will and was not coerced by anybody.
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