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Writing Good Questions. A QUESTIONNAIRE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE QUESTIONS IT ASKS. Plan What to Measure. What information is required? Who are appropriate target respondents? What data collection method will be used to survey respondents?. Preface: Open-ended versus Close-ended Questions.

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Writing good questions
Writing Good Questions

Dr. Michael R. Hyman, NMSU


A questionnaire is only as good as the questions it asks
A QUESTIONNAIRE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE QUESTIONS IT ASKS


Plan what to measure
Plan What to Measure

  • What information is required?

  • Who are appropriate target respondents?

  • What data collection method will be used to survey respondents?



Close ended questions

Communication skills of respondent less critical

Speedy response

Easier to answer

Data quickly coded & entered

Easier to analyze

Less-skilled or no interviewer needed

Can’t obtain in-depth response

Poor at providing new insights

Harder to write

Answer may not fully reflect respondent’s attitude

Categories hint at right answers

Close-ended Questions

AdvantagesDisadvantages


Open ended questions

Wide range of responses

Encourages response

Good for probing

Biased by respondent articulateness

Interviewer bias

Hard to record answers

Coding inconsistency

Hard/costly to code

Reduced cross-study comparability

Tabulating complexity

Costly

Open-ended Questions

AdvantagesDisadvantages






Use natural and familiar language1
Use Natural and Familiar Language

  • Grinder

  • Hoagie

  • Hero

  • Submarine

  • Poor Boy



Avoid leading questions1
Avoid Leading Questions

Leading version:

1. Do you believe that private citizens have the right to own firearms to defend themselves, their families, and property from violent criminal attack?

Yes No Undecided

Improved version:

2. Do you believe that a ban on the private ownership of firearms would be significantly reduce the number of murders and robberies in your community?

Yes No Undecided






Questions should yield reliable and valid answers
Questions Should Yield Reliable and Valid Answers

  • Relevance

  • Memory

    • Omission

    • Telescoping

    • Creation







Asking sensitive question
Asking Sensitive Question Questions

  • Respondent randomly selects which of two questions—one innocuous and one sensitive—to answer

    Questions: Last digit of SS# odd?

    Sensitive question?

    n=1000

    If 300 ‘yes’ answers, then 50 of 500 (10%) answered ‘yes’ to sensitive question


Poor questions
Poor Questions Questions


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