Questionnaires can be a useful tool when collecting primary data, as they can be quick and cheap to produce. It is important, however, to consider the way questions are written in order to ensure the data collected is representative and unbiased.
Questionnaire questions can require:
- yes/no responses
- tick boxes with different options
- numbered responses
- single word responses, or
- a sentence to be written.
When writing questionnaire questions, it is important that they:
- are unambiguous and easy to understand
- do not lead respondents to give particular answers
- cover every possible answer
- are appropriate for the investigation.
Activity 2 Good or bad questions?
Look at the questionnaire below.
Can you identify an issue with any of the questions?
If so, rewrite the question to address the issue.
Question 1: What is your favourite colour?
Question 2: Do you agree that mathematics is the best subject?
Question 3: How many pieces of fruit do you eat in a week?
- More than 20
Question 1 provided tick boxes for the respondent but not all the possible answers were provided. If the respondent’s favourite colour was purple, they could not respond to this question accurately.
When rewriting this question, you could have included an ‘other’ box. Here you could also have added a space for the respondent to write their favourite colour.
Question 2 is a leading question.
When rewriting this question, you would need to ensure it is unbiased and not leading. You could ask ‘What is your favourite subject?’ and provide options or an empty space for respondents to write in the subject.
Question 3 gives ambiguous options. It is not clear which box to tick when the respondent’s answer is 5 or 10 or 15.
When rewriting this question, change the option boxes so there is no overlap. For example, 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, more than 20.