Developing Questionnaire Instrument For The Collection Of Valid Assessment Data

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Assessment information vary wildly and is collected using various instruments. Assessment information can be of skills, knowledge and abilities (SKA) which can be measured using an aptitude test instrument or it can be of behaviours, attitudes, beliefs, or opinions which can be measured using a personality test instrument.

Aptitude test instruments include multiple choice tests, structured question tests or performance tests. On the other hand, personality test instruments include questionnaires, inventory, and interviews.

Questions on personality tests might ask about certain situations, how a person feels about the situation or might handle the situation. These tests do not have right or wrong answers, and are not timed, as is the case with aptitude tests. The answers that the respondent provides are analysed and compared to various personality traits, and the dominant traits are picked out and highlighted.

A questionnaire is used a lot in the collection of valid personality data. Thus its development requires a specialised training, just like the aptitude test instruments.  The questionnaire design starts with the development of the blueprint, which should clearly describe what kind of data will be collected, the type of respondents, lists key variables to be addressed the format of items, the kinds of response categories, and coding or scoring and administration, how the data will be analyzed and reported, and how findings might contribute to improving the issue under investigation.

Understanding the purpose of the questionnaire is of paramount importance. You might have filled a questionnaire before, either at the end of a workshop, at the end of your stay in a hotel, after service at a particular organization, at your work place, for a student doing his/her studies, or for a researcher from a research institute. The questionnaire could have been a short objective one, a one-question, a reasonably long open-ended one. The purpose of the questionnaire normally determines a lot of other issues such as the type of questions to be used and how the data will be used.

Several considerations are taken into account when deciding on the type/number of items in a questionnaire, Normally, a short, limited, objective questionnaire provides useful information and is preferable to a long, comprehensive one.

The questinnaire questions could be  close ended single-select multiple choice question or multi-select multiple choice question responses from a given list of options. Types of multiple choice questions are such as rating scales, rank order, checklist, likert scales, or dichotomous response type. They could be open ended types which provides more information through qualitative responses.

Multiple choice questions provide less information but easy to codify, enter, and analyze. On the other hand, open ended questions provide more information but difficult to codify, enter, and analyze. It is important to ask respondents questions within their capabilities. For example, if you want to know about farming techniques in a certain farming zone, its proper to ask farmers not everybody including pupils.

Questionnaires can be self-administered by sending them through post or electronically. They can also be administered through interviews face to face or telephonically.

Since the purpose of the questionnaire is to get quality information from the respondents, t is advisable that at the beginning of each section, there should be clear instructions on how to respond to the questions. To enhance high response rate, simple items and those from interesting topics should be put early in the questionnaire to generate interest in the respondents. While sensitive items and those that require a little bit of thinking such as classification should come later in the questionnaire.

Remember, the respondent does not get any immediate benefit from answering the questionnaire, and might never know if s/he ever gets them, as such it is important that the questionnaire maintains the respondents interest in continuing to answer the questions. In that regard, developing a questionnaire that is able to do that requires expertise of a Psychometrician.

Yes, It’s Possible!

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