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Nike Case Study

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Writing Questionnaires

There are various types of questions you can use in questionnaires. Which type you choose depends on the subject you are studying and what type of response you are trying to get.

True/False, Short Answer, Fill-in-the-Blank and Essay Questions

You are probably familiar with true/false, short answer, and fill-in-the-blank questions. One way of using these types of questions when you are trying to find out how much subjects know about a particular topic. If one of your variables is knowledge of American culture, you can use these types of questions. You can also use them when where you want to limit the number of possible answers. For example:

Imagine that you told your friend Sarah a secret, and you found out later that she told someone else. What would you do?

a. get angry with her, but forgive her later

b. get angry with her, and end the relationship

c. get angry with myself for having trusted her

d. never speak to her again

This type of multiple-choice question is quick and easy to score, but the problem is that there may be other alternatives. One possibility is to include another alternative:

e. other (please specify_________________)

Multiple-choice questions and fill-in-the-blank questions are easy to score, and subjects can answer a lot of questions quickly. However, it can be difficult to write good multiple-choice questions. Short answer questions take longer to answer and to score. You have to make judgements about whether an answer is right or wrong, and you may have to make a system of categories to classify answers. However, they give subjects more flexibility in how they answer.

Multiple-choice questions are more difficult to write than they may first appear. Some people can figure out how to answer them not because they know the correct answer but because they can figure out which answer is the most likely. For example, the following question is based on a reading passage.

The dress that the woman was wearing was ______.

a. black

b. white

c. yellow

d. red

Without even seeing the reading passage this is based on, you could probably guess that the answer is either a or b. Writers of multiple choice questions often use opposites of the correct answer for one of the other alternatives. Therefore if you guessed a or b, you would probably have one chance in two of being right, rather than one chance in four.

The following are some guidelines that will help you avoid such problems.

1. Do not use an alternative that is the opposite of the right answer (because when there are opposites, one of them is usually right).

2. Do not use two incorrect alternatives that have similar meanings (because they are usually both wrong).

3. The alternatives should all be about the same length (because alternatives that are much longer or much shorter than the others tend to be right).

4. Make sure that all of the alternatives are easily understandable (because the person answering the questionnaire cannot choose the correct answer if he/she cannot understand it).

Essay questions are more commonly used in qualitative research, but you can also sometimes use them in quantitative research. You can use them to ask participants about their opinions or experiences. If you are doing a quantitative study, you form categories for the responses and count the responses in each category. You might use essay questions if you are not sure what categories there might be. For example, if you are doing a study of communication within an organization, you might ask essay questions about who participants communicate with and what they communicate about. You could then divide the answers into categories according to whether the communication was with people who were higher, equal or lower in the organization and what the content of



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