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Operational Definitions/ Survey Design. DO NOW: This is important. Grab a “Self-Editing Check List” from stool Complete the checklist Pay attention to the directions in each box on the left

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do now this is important
DO NOW: This is important
  • Grab a “Self-Editing Check List” from stool
  • Complete the checklist
    • Pay attention to the directions in each box on the left
    • Mark your score for each criteria in each box on the right – I KNOW I added up the scores wrong, calculate your score out of 20
    • Correct spelling/grammar as you go
    • Give yourself a final grade
    • Leave any additional comments/questions
  • If you do not have your paper, grab a “Self-Editing Check List” to complete and hand in to me tomorrow
before we create our survey question
Before we create our survey question….

What are we trying to measure?

  • 5th
  • What is our research question?
  • Does involvement in activities affect perception of upperclassmen?


What is our research question?

does gender affect your fear of spiders?

operational definitions
Operational Definitions

: an objective description of a variable given in terms of how it is actually measured

  • Why is this important?
    • Eliminate “fuzziness” between researchers
    • Controls the experiment
      • Everyone is being subjected to the same definition

Example: A researcher measuring happiness in college students decides to use a 10-question happiness scale to measure positive outlook in her subjects. In other words, her operational definition of happiness in this case is a given subject’s 1-10 score



Memory: the number of words correctly recalled from a list

Intelligence: IQ test

  • In your notes, operationally define the following variables:
    • Aggression
    • Stress
    • Reading ability
    • depression
2nd Operationally define our variablesRQ:IV – gender DV – fear of spiders?Hypothesis: a fear of spiders is more common in girls

5th Operationally define our variablesRQ: Does involvement in activities (IV) affect perception (DV) of upperclassmen?Hypothesis: if freshmen are involved in any activity, it will affect perception

Involvement in activities – number of checked boxes from a list of possible activities (designated by hour/week)

perception -


Example for survey questionRQ: Do 9th graders prefer sugary cereals?Hypothesis: 9th graders prefer sugary cereals above all other cereals

Survey question:

On days you choose to eat cereal for breakfast, what brands of cereal do you eat?

Operational Definitions

  • Sugary cereals – more than 10g of sugar per serving
  • Prefer – eat them more than 50% of the time they choose to eat cereal
other things to consider for a survey
Other things to consider for a survey…
  • We can use “fixed choice questions” – give options – can even be yes or no
  • With fixed choice questions we need to make sure all questions are “mutually exclusive” and “exhaustive”
    • this means any respondent can find one response that applies to him or her (except in the check all that apply format)
  • Can add “other” please specify
  • With large groups of people, close ended q’s are the way to go
  • When studying smaller groups, open ended q’s can get more into the minds of subjects
  • Sometimes certain words can affect people differently, we have to choose our words wisely
    • A survey asked if people would forbid public speeches against democracy – 54% said yes – asked if they would not “allow” them, 75% agreed
  • Respondents will be more likely to say yes to a question like “Did you see the cop while driving” as opposed to “did you see a cop while driving”
  • We also often see survey designs that will ask a question and ask if a person agrees, and to what degree (or to measure any behavior really)