Using Questionnaires in Education Research

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   Search RESINED powered by FreeFind  Beginning Research | Action Research | Case Study | Interviews | Observation Techniques | Education Research in the PostmodernEvaluation Research in Education |  Narrative| Presentations | Qualitative Research | Quantitative Methods | Questionnaires | Writing up Research   Prepared by Professor Andrew HannanNow led by Dr. Julie Anderson © A Hannan, Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth, 2007 CONTENTSA.   INTRODUCTIONB. QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN - How to do itC. QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN - ExamplesD. QUESTIONNAIRE ANALYSIS - How to do itE. TASKSF. FURTHER READING   A.   INTRODUCTION 1) You will no doubt have had numerous experiences of having to fill in aquestionnaire, everything from the Census itself to forms to get your motorinsurance or library card.2) Such questionnaires wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t in some measuresuccessful in getting the information required in a form it can be usefully analysed.3) I want to begin by asking you the following questions. What are questionnaires good at doing - what are their advantages?What are questionnaires not good at doing - what are their Using Questionnaires in Education Research sur 1001/03/2013 11:35  disadvantages? Jot down your answers before reading on. Use the lists you have created to checkagainst the points made below.4) Notice how I used a form of open-ended question to try to get you state yourviews, having decided that this was better than listing potential advantages anddisadvantages and asking you to tick to indicate the ones with which you agreed.The issue of how best to pose questions is one to which we shall return.5) Straightforward written questions requiring an answer by ticking the appropriatebox are very efficient ways of collecting facts.6) Questionnaires are also employed as devices to gather information about people’sopinions, often asking respondents to indicate how strongly they agree or disagreewith a statement given, but sometimes merely posing a question and givingrespondents space in which to formulate their own replies.7) One of the obvious advantages of questionnaires is that they provide dataamenable to quantification, either through the simple counting of boxes or throughthe content analysis of written responses.8) Problems arise, however, when the facts themselves are difficult to establish,when the question posed contains ambiguity or bias or when the range of availablequestions or answers does not allow the respondent the opportunity to state what heor she wishes. The agenda is normally set by the researcher with the respondentbeing somewhat constrained so as to follow planned pathways; there is little roomfor the unexpected. The picture presented is often static, with facts and views givenas more concrete and fixed than they may be in the dynamic flow of personalformation and social interaction.9) Let us have a look at how questionnaires are put together.Back to CONTENTS list B. QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN - How to do it 1) Ask yourself, why should I use a questionnaire ? It is worth being self reflective when beginning to construct your own questionnaire, by writing down yourreasons for choosing such a research instrument rather than another (say interviewsor observation), for inventing your own rather than using one already available in theliterature, and for posing the sorts of questions you want to use. Such notes may beuseful when you come to write the ‘methods’ chapter/section of your researchreport.2) The fundamental question that must then be asked is, what are you trying tofind out?  Every questionnaire must have a purpose, ie it must draw from someunderlying hypotheses about what are the important facts or opinions and evenmake some predictions about which facts may be relevant in explaining the opinionsexpressed.3) Write your own rationale , in terms of statements like, ‘I need to know whetheror not senior members of staff are more likely to support the moves to introduceappraisal and what reasons they have for the positions they express. I need to find Using Questionnaires in Education Research sur 1001/03/2013 11:35  out why junior staff seem opposed, ie are they misinformed about the nature of thereforms or are they protecting weaker colleagues from what is seen as scapegoatingin an under-funded profession of whom too much is demanded with too littlesupport?’ 4) This can be developed so as to produce a justification for every questionused , eg ‘I asked this so as to probe the extent to which those of various positionsin the hierarchy valued staff consensus and the feeling of shared purpose, with theintention of seeing whether those who were strongly committed to such views werealso more or less opposed to staff appraisal’. If you can’t come up with a goodrationale, drop the question.5) Many questions can be closed-ended , ie the respondent has simply to tick theappropriate box, although these are most suitable for the gathering of unproblematicfacts. Such a device can be employed to ascertain the viewpoints of respondents butthere are more problems involved in both posing the questions and offering a rangeof possible answers.6) The best descriptions I have come across of the issues involved are those given inMunn & Drever (1999), which I strongly recommend you should read .7) You need to decide how to pose your questions and the form of coding you mightuse, to ensure that your survey produces data that you can analyse. You need toavoid ambiguity and bias, and to refrain from leading your respondents. For furtherguidance consult the types of questions; decisions about question content; decisions about question wording; decisions about response format; and, question placement and sequence pages in the The Research Methods Knowledge Base . 8) I would personally like to recommend the use of open-ended questions  thatallow respondents to state their opinions in ways not pre-selected by the researcher.These give the possibility of discovering things that were unsuspected and enablesome respondents to challenge the sort of assumptions that may have been made.The disadvantage of such questions is that computation is very difficult and can onlyfollow a process of categorisation, which in any case has to be undertaken by theresearcher.9) However, a combination of closed-ended and open-ended questions  has itsadvantages in that it preserves the possibility of easy computation whilst providingrespondents with the space to develop their own ideas, eg ‘To what extent are you satisfied with the current proposals for staff appraisal?Very satisfied Satisfied Neutral Not satisfied Very dissatisfied1 2 3 4 5Please circle as appropriate and explain your response in the space below: ....’ The Likert scale used here (1-5) also serves as a self-coding for any explanationgiven.10) Let me identify some other important points: -Make sure you show a full draft  to someone else, preferably a tutor, beforetrying it out. 1. Using Questionnaires in Education Research sur 1001/03/2013 11:35  Make use of a pilot trial run first if at all possible - it is amazing just how flawedthe product of hours of solitary effort can be once it is put into practice. Use aparallel smaller sample or a sub-sample of the target population concerned. If all else fails get 3 or 4 friends to pretend they fit the respondent categories. Askthose in your pilot sample to feed back to you their views about thequestionnaire itself, eg how long it took to complete, which questions theyfound ambiguous or leading or biased, etc. Don’t forget to analyse the results tosee if you can make sense of the data that you have collected. It’s a lot betterto find out you’ve made a mistake at this stage than to do so when it’s too late! 2. Bear in mind how you propose to use the data so collected - it is better to buildin a coding  device for closed-ended responses from the very beginning and tocheck in advance that you have sufficient information to undertake a statisticalanalysis (see Munn and Drever [1999] on ‘analysing the results’, although don’tnecessarily take their advice on avoiding computers). 3. Attempt to obtain as big a response as possible, the whole population would bebest (!) but otherwise you will need to seek a random or structured sample (see Sampling in The Research Methods Knowledge Base), not forgetting that you will need a minimum of 30 respondents to do statistical analysis of anythingmore than a very low level kind. If, for example, you decided that you wanted toknow what primary school teachers thought about the National NumeracyStrategy, you would be best to ask all of them. As this is probably beyond yourscope, for reasons of the costs and time involved, you may feel it best toconfine yourself to a sample, eg all primary school teachers in Devon. Even thisis probably too many to cope with, so you may decide on all those in, say, EastDevon, or all those in Exmouth, or, even, all those in one particular school.Alternatively, you might give every primary school in the country (or Devon) anumber and choose a 10% random sample, using a table of random numbers,and survey all the teachers in those schools. You might try and put together astratified sample of schools typical of the different varieties that you know toexist to include in your survey. You might deliberately seek unusual schoolswhere you know teachers have taken a particular stance to the teaching of mathematics in order to find out more about the extremes or about ‘vanguard’ cases where ideas were being tried in ways which others were likely to follow.Whatever choice of sample you make you need to justify it, ie to make a case tothe reader who examines your results that he/she has good grounds for takingyour findings seriously in terms of their representativeness. 4. Ensure that you pose your questions in a manner that makes them easy toanswer and that your whole questionnaire is short enough to mean that mostpeople will complete it. Beware of using survey methods that make it likely thata significant proportion of your target population won’t have the chance torespond, eg using email when not all have access to it or forms of writtenpresentation beyond the literacy level of some of your respondents. 5. You need to be careful about obtaining the highest possible response rate otherwise the answers you get may not be representative of the overallpopulation or of the sample you chose. Presentation and politeness areimportant here, remember the respondents are doing you a favour and be sureto thank them! Postal surveys normally obtain very low response rates, evenwhen pre-paid envelopes are supplied. It helps to make it as simple as possiblefor respondents to return their forms. You need to convince members of yourtarget group that it is worth their while to complete and return your form - tellthem how much it matters, how it will have real consequences, how they canfind out the results. Don’t forget to reassure them about confidentiality. If you 6. Using Questionnaires in Education Research sur 1001/03/2013 11:35


Jul 23, 2017
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