Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Survey Writing: Open Versus Closed-Ended Questions

English: Histogram of sepal widths for Iris ve...
Histogram of a data set (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Patrick Regoniel, PhD

In writing survey questions, when should you use open and closed-ended questions? Can both types of questions be used together in a written survey?

The process of framing questions under each type largely depends on the survey's intention.

Typically, open-ended questions are questions that require not only a simple 'Yes' or 'No' answer but an explanation.

It requires the respondent to expound on issues or topics brought up by the interviewer.

On the other hand, closed-ended questions limit the respondent's answers to a given set of options provided in a questionnaire. The respondent will have to choose the option that closely resembles or reflects his preference or taste.

In anticipation of answers outside of the given options, 'others' or 'do not know' is usually provided as the last option.

When Are Open-Ended Questions Used?

As a rule-of-thumb, this type of question should be used under the following conditions:

1. The topic is unfamiliar

Your subject of inquiry is unfamiliar to you as a researcher and no information has been gathered yet about it. You are just starting to explore the topic and have not formed any hypothesis to explain the phenomenon.

2. Opinions or explanations are sought

You are interested in knowing people's explanations about a phenomenon or seek their opinion on certain issues and/or concerns. Narratives arise from information gathered this way.

3. Follow-up to a previous answer

After the respondent has chosen a given option in a multiple choice question, you might want to know why. A prompt like 'Tell me more about it' or 'Explain your answer' may be written right after the question.

4. Generate options for a multiple choice questionnaire

An exploratory survey using open-ended questions will show a range of possible answers. These answers may be used as options for closed-ended questions.

When Are Closed-Ended Questions Used?

These questions should be used under the following situations:

1. The variables of the study have already been identified

Once the possible answers to an exploratory question have been identified, you can define which specific variables you would like the respondent to limit their answers on. This is in anticipation of drawing out relationships between these variables.

2. Data obtained in the survey will be statistically analyzed

Closed-ended questions yield data that can be encoded and analyzed using statistical tests. Options are converted into numbers to make this possible.

3. Pre-identified categories have been prepared

To facilitate analysis, pre-identified categories guide the formulation of questions in a written survey. Options in a multiple-choice question, therefore, should be confined within these categories.

The use of either open or closed-ended questions, therefore, entirely depends on the objectives of the study. Once the objectives are clearly defined, relevant questions of each type can be formulated to meet those objectives.

For more interesting research-related articles, visit SimplyEducate.Me.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Patrick_Regoniel,_PhD

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment