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When to use a questionnaire?
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When to use a questionnaire?
There is no all encompassing rule for when to use a questionnaire. The choice will be made based on a variety of factors including the type of information to be gathered and the available resources for the experiment. A questionnaire should be considered in the following circumstances.
When resources and money are limited.
A Questionnaire can be quite inexpensive to administer. Although preparation may be costly, any data collection scheme will have similar preparation expenses. The administration cost per person of a questionnaire can be as low as postage and a few photocopies. Time is also an important resource that questionnaires can maximize. If a questionnaire is self-administering, such as an e-mail questionnaire, potentially several thousand people could respond in a few days. It would be impossible to get a similar number of usability tests completed in the same short time.
When it is necessary to protect the privacy of the participants.
Questionnaires are easy to administer confidentially. Often confidentiality is necessary to ensure participants will respond honestly if at all. Examples of such cases would include studies that need to ask embarrassing questions about private or personal behaviour.
When corroborating other findings.
In studies that have resources to pursue other data collection strategies, questionnaires can be a useful confirmation tools. More costly schemes may turn up interesting trends, but occasionally there will not be resources to run these other tests on large enough participant groups to make the results statistically significant. A follow-up large scale questionnaire may be necessary to corroborate these earlier results.
What kind of questions do we ask?
In general, there are two types of questions one will ask, open format or closed format.
Open format questions are those that ask for unprompted opinions. In other words, there are no predetermined set of responses, and the participant is free to answer however he chooses. Open format questions are good for soliciting subjective data or when the range of responses is not tightly defined. An obvious advantage is that the variety of responses should be wider and more truly reflect the opinions of the respondents. This increases the likelihood of you receiving unexpected and insightful suggestions, for it is impossible to predict the full range of opinion. It is common for a questionnaire to end with and open format question asking the respondent for her unabashed ideas for changes or improvements.
Open format questions have several disadvantages. First, their very nature requires them to be read individually. There is no way to automatically tabulate or perform statistical analysis on them. This is obviously more costly in both time and money, and may not be practical for lower budget or time sensitive evaluations. They are also open to the influence of the reader, for no ...
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