Questionnaires are a type of survey comprised of a series of questions, which may or may not have pre-determined answers, designed to gather insight on a specific subject. Often times, questionnaires can collect data easily and quickly, but in some cases questionnaires may require long, written responses to specific questions. Questionnaires are commonly utilized in research and are useful for statistical analyses.
Questionnaires can be rather objective in nature. This is because questionnaires are standardized in how all participants are asked the same questions and need to respond according to the same criterion. Questionnaires also have the potential to collect large volumes of information1. One questionnaire can be comprised of many questions, thus in one sitting, answers to a multitude of questions can be collected.
However, questionnaires do possess some disadvantages. For one, due to the standardized nature of these surveys, it is possible that individuals may misinterpret a question since it cannot be clarified and thus, answer inaccurately1. For questionnaires which require solely yes or no responses, reasoning surrounding why a respondent selected yes or no is not included. To compromise for this, some questionnaires may include written responses. However, the downside to asking for written responses is that they are time consuming to analyze and may be hard to categorize.
Evidently, questionnaires exhibit both strengths and weaknesses. Despite this however, questionnaires are an effective statistical tool because they can survey large proportions of the population and are mobile in how they can be mailed out, e-mailed or completed in a controlled setting. Although, it is important to note that when questionnaires are sent out, the return rate of these surveys may be a limiting factor of their effectiveness. Nevertheless, questionnaires represent an efficient way of gathering information to be processed and analyzed.
1. Learning Technology Dissemenation Initiative. (1999). Questionnaires: Advantages and Disadvantages. Retrieved from: http://www.icbl.hw.ac.uk/ltdi/cookbook/info_questionnaires/.
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