Designing Dissertation Questionnaires

This is an indication that the survey questions and layout are not clear enough and need to be improved. Once all the testers have completed the survey review your notes from each session.At this point it’s normally clear what the major problems are so you can go about improving the survey to address those problems. However, if major changes are needed to the questions or structure it might be necessary to repeat the pretesting exercise with different people before starting the survey.For example, if your target group is young people aged 15-25, try to include some who are younger, some who are older, boys and girls with different socioeconomic backgrounds.

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Each time they read and answer a question they should tell you exactly what comes into their mind. You should also observe them completing the survey.

Look for places where they hesitate or make mistakes, such as the example below.

So if it’s an online survey they should complete it online, if it’s a verbal survey you should have a trained interviewer ask them the questions.

While they are completing the survey ask them to think out loud.

It’s important to test your survey questionnaire before using it to collect data.

Pretesting and piloting can help you identify questions that don’t make sense to participants, or problems with the questionnaire that might lead to biased answers.For large or complex surveys it’s a good idea to do a full pilot before starting actual data collection.To do a pilot you need to test all the survey steps from start to finish with a reasonably large sample.As a general rule, you should aim to pretest all your surveys and forms with at least 5 people.Even with this small number of people you’ll be surprised how many improvements you can make.Here are some simple rules to putting together the perfect questionnaire: Writing long winded questions that make perfect sense to you, giving half-formed ideas and concepts within a survey question, because after all, this concept is so very obvious, and all make perfect sense, but only from your point of view.One of the most common mistakes that most people, students included, make is that they may take some ideas, such as their audience being able to grasp all of their own, personal concepts clearly, as granted.So even with this small number of people you should be able to identify most of the major issues.Adding more people might identify some additional smaller issues, but it also makes pretesting more time consuming and costly.Once you’ve found your testers, ask them to complete the survey one at a time (they shouldn’t be able to watch each other complete it).The testers should complete the survey the same way that it will be completed in the actual project.

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