A "survey" basically means an Interviews or a Questionnaire
Interview or Survey?
For your class project, I recommend an Interview.
|You can only do 1-2 interviews a day ||You can send 10000|
|Need to do it in person ||Can email or post|
|Cannot be anonymous. ||Can be anonymous|
|Not good for embarrassing questions ||A little better for embarrassing questions|
|Everyone will probably finish ||Many questionnaires will go in bin|
|Flexible - you can add questions ||Fixed - once you send it you can't change|
|Hard to analyse (transcribe, code) ||Easier to analyse (especially if closed)|
|Interviewer can change (bias) questions ||Questions always the same (reliable)|
|Can see body language, expressions ||No body language, etc.|
Interviews are best for finding out what a few people think/do when you are not sure.
Questionnaires are best for checking something is true with a large number of people
This means interviews are better than questionnaires for undergraduate projects because usually:
- You will have a small number of subjects
- You don't know exactly what you are looking for ...
- ...so it is hard to write good questionnaire questions
- You can change interviews as you learn - you don't have to perfect first time
- structured (basically like reading out a questionnaire)
- semi-structured (a basic list of questions, but you can ask others).
- unstructured (anything goes)
- You can video, audio record or take notes.
- Keep it short - 5 minutes interview is at least 10 minutes typing
Writing good Interview questions
Why are these bad questions?
- Do you enjoy dyadic interaction in your ESP class?
- In which ways have you and which ways have you not changed the way you teach based on your experience as a learner and as someone who lives in a foreign country?
- What would be the best way to learn Japanese for a Canadian student?
- What wouldn't you avoid doing if you were not in Japan?
- How much do you weigh?
- How much homework do you do every night?
- When did you stop stealing bicycles?
- Do you agree that punishing students, when done by a good teacher, is a good thing?
- How much time do you spend on the internet: 5-10 hours per week, 2-5 hours per week, 0-2 hours per week
Principles of Question Writing
Can you match any of the above questions to the problems below?
- Don't use words your participant doesn't know.
- Avoid double questions
- Don't ask participants to guess what other people might think
- Don't ask participants about topics they don't know
- No double negatives
- Be careful with embarassing questions
- Be careful with questions where participant might want to impress or give "right" answer
- "How many books have you read?"
- "How many have you had time to read?"
- Be careful with multiple choice - they need to cover everything and not overlap
- Avoid loaded questions (questions with no escape - a "bang" in both ends)
- Avoid leading questions (questions that show what answer you want)
- Add check questions "How many books did you read last week?"
Types of questions
- OPEN questions
- (When you don't know what people do or how they will answer)
- e.g. What is your favourite band?
- CLOSED questions
- (when it is yes/no, or a small range of choice)
- e.g. Do you prefer salmon or tuna?
As I wrote above, I really don't recommend these for your project. However:
- Here is a website which has a lot of translated questionnaires with example question phrasing you can copy: (link)
- Also, look at Google Docs "Form" function for a good way to collect answers, and for the different kinds of questions.
- A lot of the info in "Writing good Interview questions" applies to questionnaires.