Survey Techniques and Constructing Questionnaires
Survey questionnaires that have been deployed for research have two specific objectives. One is to quantitatively depict certain facets of the group being investigated. The analysis of the questionnaires may be mainly focused on associations between variables or with making estimates in a descriptive manner to a well defined group of respondents. Next, it is also an effective means of gathering data by soliciting individual evaluations through predetermined items or questions. Their responses, which may pertain to their own views, compose the data set subject for statistical analysis (Fowler 2002).
Lanthier (2002) defines the questionnaire method or survey, from its name per se, as the set of questions given to the people who serves as respondents for a particular study. Basically, the purpose of applying such method is to obtain information about their respondent’s attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and the like pertaining to the topic at hand. Through this, the researchers applying this particular method are given a clearer picture of a group’s opinion based on the compilation of answers obtained from the survey participants.
The use of the questionnaire method in this study is used to its advantage due to the method’s capacity of finding out the attitudes, thoughts and perceptions of a large group of people through the use of a certain percentage of their population, the sample. Simply put, the questionnaire method allows the researcher to be more confident in generalizing their findings as compared with the use of the case study method (Lanthier 2002). Lanthier further adds that the use of this method allows for easy decision making due to its feature that has been previously discussed.
However, this method also has its own disadvantages. First is the sensitivity of how questions are constructed. Lanthier (2002) calls for the proper construction of questions in order to obtain the exact responses needed by the researcher. According to the author, the way a question is worded can definitely alter the way that the people may answer the question. The second disadvantage of this method is how the sample would be selected (Lanthier 2002). Apparently, random sampling is the best way to choose respondents in this kind of study.
However, obtaining these people through the said method ay be quite difficult since not all participants are really selected randomly. Once again, the primary tool that would be used for data collection under the quantitative design of this research would be of course, the questionnaire. The questionnaire shall make use of two kinds of questions: (1) close-structured question; and (2) a Likert-type 5 point style questions. The questions shall be based from the findings of the previous researches.
According to the Colorado State University Writing Guides (2008), the use of close ended questions are very advantageous to the researcher since these are more easy to analyze since the answers could be given a number or value to make statistical interpretation possible. It is also more specific, thus could be used to communicate similar meanings. For this study, the questionnaire shall not be administered personally. Rather, the researcher shall make use of email and post in order to deliver the data collection tool to the respondents of this study.
E-mail questionnaires are simply a new way of targeting respondents and making them participate in the study. The questionnaires are sent directly to people via e-mail and the latter are supposed to return them to the sender upon completion, using the same method (Questionnaires by post and Email, 2008). There are times, however when the researchers require their respondents to print out the questionnaire and have it sent back to them through post (Questionnaires by Post and Email, 2008; Dillman, 1999).
For this study, the researchers expect the respondents to return their responses using email and not post. According to the article entitled Questionnaires by Post and Email (2008), the following are the advantages of using this particular method in administering the survey: (1) low cost; (2) quick to send as a list of e-mail addresses just needs to be entered instead of sending each one individually; and finally, (3) it has a higher response rate when compared to the questionnaires administered through post.
However, this method also has its own disadvantages and the same article lists the as the following: (1) the tendency of the respondents to treat the questionnaire as SPAM or junk mail; (2) questions could not be explained, thus leading to a higher tendency of misunderstanding; and finally, (3) incomplete questionnaires may be returned. On the other hand, some respondents shall receive their questionnaires through their postal addresses. It will be sent directly and be returned in the same manner (Questionnaires by Post and Email, 2008).
The following are its advantages, as enumerated by the article entitled Questionnaires by Post and Email (2008): (1) its ability to cover a wide region of the population (2) the ability of the researcher to target many of his or her respondents; (3) affordable; (4) respondents have more time to think; (5) respondents will be more honest due to the absence of the interviewer while they are accomplishing the questionnaire; and finally, (5) if the respondents are hard to reach personally.
On the contrary, the same article mentions the following as the disadvantages of delivering questionnaires to the participants’ postal addresses: (1) low response rates due to the tendency of people to treat the questionnaire as junk mail; (2) the inability of respondents to clarify some misunderstood questions; and finally, (3) questionnaires may be returned incompletely (Questionnaires by Post and Email, 2008).