Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Questionnaire Design
Originator Mark Banks
Department Department of Geography, Lancaster University, LA1 4YB
Tel. +44 (0)1524 594828
Fax. +44 (0)1524 847099
E-mail M.Banks@lancaster.ac.uk

One useful function of a tutorial (an unbroken hour with just a few students) is to use the time to improve students' practical skills in various research-oriented techniques. They may well have learned the background and principles of a methodology in a lecture, but before they can use it in practice, they may need some 'hands on' experience. This tutorial attempts to provide this experience, using as an example of a methodology the design of a questionnaire.

The gap between the principals of questionnaire design and actually writing a good questionnaire by oneself may be a large one. Textbooks on the principals are easily available but only practice will hone the skill. One can sensitise students to best practice in three stages.

First, show them examples of (deliberately?) poor questionnaires where the questions illustrate some of the common failings of questionnaire design (e.g. over-complex questions, wrong 'language' for the audience, ambiguity, overlaps and gaps in questions, use of the wrong type of question in a given circumstance). Get the group to identify the exact problem with the questionnaire.

Second, get the students in pairs to re-write the bad questionnaires in a better way, explaining to you and the other students how their re-working of the questionnaire is an improvement.

Third, get the class to write their own short questionnaire on a given topic. It would be useful to get the students to swap their questionnaires and to evaluate each others' with the tutor in an advisory role.

Keywords:

Methodology
Peer assessment
Questionnaires
Tutorials


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