A questionnaire is useful whenever you’ve got a pre-defined theory that gives you an idea of what you might find out, or at least guides you to how your respondents might answer. Accordingly, you’ll have to modify what your questionnaire looks like and what questions it uses.
Imagine that you want to conduct research on the popularity of school subjects. Here you can use questions like: mark subjects on a scale of 1 to 10 according to how interesting, valuable or favorite they are. Then you can see if these three views of the subjects overlap. Or you can take a different approach and have one question that asks respondents to mark three of their most favorite subjects and three of their least favorite in another.
In questionnaires, you’ll probably most often encounter the following types of questions:
- Spectrum – there are various types, but the most widely used is one with 6, 8 or 10 items copying the spectrum from agreement to disagreement. An odd number of fields is usually used so respondents can’t just click on the middle field without thinking.
- Sometimes you can use an evaluation spectrum like in school. In this case, however, let respondents check a box or write in a mark; don’t let them click on a scale.
- Selection of one option – you are a: man, woman, other, I don’t want to answer.
- Selection of multiple options – your favorite foods are: sweet, savory, meat, vegetables, other.
- Limited selection of multiple options – mark three best subjects.
- Short constructed response – write in the name of your favorite singer.
- Completing sentences – A good teacher to me is one who…
- Long constructed response – in this case, you want a longer, continuous text; try to avoid this option, as not many people will respond to it.
There are of course more possibilities – modern technology uses questionnaires that branch out (when you answer “no” to question 8, you’ll go straight to question 19), or use images and video. You can naturally make use of this as well.
With questionnaires, it’s important to remember several things:
- Don’t make them too long – the shorter the better is a good rule of thumb. It’s ideal if the questionnaire can be completed within 5 to 10 minutes.
- Avoid “double-barrel” questions – i.e. questions in which you’re asking about two things at once – “Do you support the ANO movement and its Prime Minister Andrej Babiš?”
- The question must be clear – try to make it short and wholly obvious.
- Pilot – have your sister or father fill out the questionnaire. They’ll tell you if they don’t understand something or what they might formulate differently. No one makes a good questionnaire without trying it out first!
- Use technologies – if you can, use technologies to create your questionnaire. This will make your work much easier.
- At the start, it’s good to ask simple and non-conflicting questions.
- Put the most important and most difficult questions in the middle.
- At the end, ask about demographics – gender, age, place of residence, class, etc. according to what you’re interested in. The respondents might be tired by now and they’ll always know the answers to these things.
- Use the “other” item – if a person doesn’t “fit in” somewhere, he or she should have the option to answer with the “other” option and explain his or her response.
- Consider which questions should be mandatory – if I can’t or don’t want to respond to a certain question, I can’t finish the questionnaire, which is a shame.
- Try to promise something in exchange for the questionnaire, e.g. at least sending a summary of anonymized results of all respondents. And don’t forget to say thank you.
- At the beginning of the questionnaire, describe briefly what it’s about, who you are, why you’re carrying it out, and also whether it’s anonymous or not.
What should you use to create such a questionnaire? There are several options – definitely don’t use Word and questionnaires in it. It’s inconvenient both for respondents and for your own processing. Probably the simplest method is using Google Forms, which will offer you nice, basic and automatic processing of responses. It’s free and you can cooperate with more people on one questionnaire. Microsoft Forms functions very similarly. Selecting between them is more a matter of taste or of what you’re used to working with.
If you want to have a really nice and well-designed questionnaire, you’ll definitely be interested in TypeForm. Unfortunately, it’s rather expensive and quite limited in its free version, but if you can afford it, it’s definitely worth a try. Its advantage is its beautiful graphic design, support of branching out your questionnaires, and also nice spectrums. You can also use the free SurveySparrow for small questionnaires (up to 10 questions and 100 answers). If you want to do larger questionnaire research, we recommend SurveyMonkey, where you can request a free license for teachers and students.
The main advantage of all online tools is that you’ll be able to more easily distribute the questionnaires and also process data in an easier manner. You can either export results into an Excel sheet, or have the individual tools offer you a basic visualization and analysis.