Task 8 – Using Questionnaires

The BAD QUESTIONNAIRE example found in the x-drive is littered with flaws. Firstly, the subject is asked to provide their name as the answer to the first question. Although some questionnaires do require a name, it is pointless to include this as the first question as names won’t convey much information that will be of use to the final results, particularly one concerning audience research. Whilst most of the questions aren’t worded well, the second and third only list Music, Games and Film as media forms without even providing the “other” option. You could also argue that question 4 doesn’t serve much use as it asks the participant where do they store their downloads. Downloads already implies digital storage, so most people would say they use their computers, any other storage device wouldn’t say much about audiences anyway.

Questions 5 & 6 are awkward questions to answer as they request that you expose your illegal download activities. This is even more incriminating as the questionnaire asks you to give your name. Question 7 then asks if the participant feels guilty about downloading material without paying for it. Firstly, the question is wrong to assume that all participants illegally download material. Secondly, the fact that a participant feels guilty is probably not very useable information for an audience research investigation. Question 8 asks the participant to supply the names of music streaming sites it uses, however, it only applies writing space for one site, whereas a participant may have numerous sites to mention.

The GOOD QUESTIONNAIRE is a whole class above the bad questionnaire. Firstly, it introduces the questionnaire with a short paragraph which explains how one should go about answering the questionnaire. It then finishes the paragraph with a kind “thank you”. Even the questionnaire’s title is a massive improvement. Whilst the bad questionnaire vaguely called itself an audience research questionnaire, the second identifies itself clearly as a Television Household questionnaire. The manner in which the questionnaire is written feels very warm and clear so that the participant is encouraged and can easily understand each question. Unlike the previous questionnaire, it also supplies sufficient space for answering questions. The spaces in which to answer also differ depending on the nature of the question, for example, one question may ask for the number of particular items to be given, whilst other more closed questions use simple Yes/No tick boxes.

For participants who haven’t got much time to spare, the questionnaire allows them to skip to certain questions if they have answered “No” previously. When the questions move onto a new subject, this is marked clearing in the question, for example, “Next we’d like to ask about some leisure or recreational activities…”. For the questions where spaces are given to answer, the questionnaire also provides answer alternatives for those who don’t “spend any time on these activities.” In order to get the best answers, the questions are very detailed and often have key elements underlined, for example, “In the past seven days, approximately how much time per day would you say you spent reading…”

On pages 4 – 7, the use and interaction with tables and coloured icons makes the questionnaire more engaging than one simply with questions and options. The number of pages used (17) allows a large number of subjects to be covered so that the surveyors gain very detailed knowledge about TV watching patterns in American homes. After question 37, the survey takes 2 pages to ask for opinions on participating in research activities such as surveys. These answers will provide feedback that will influence the surveyor’s next survey and how they interact with potential participants. The next 2 pages identify the participant as a member of the Nielsen People Meter Panel and so asks for feedback on that experience, perhaps as a competitor or allied company.

Finally, the last 5 pages feature questions which aim to provide statistics about certain households, whilst keeping personal information completely confidential These will give the surveyor an even clearer idea of the target focus group as well as the members of the Nielsen People Meter Panel. The final question gives a number of options for annual income, showing that the survey is open to participants of varied financial backgrounds. The survey ends with a sufficient comments/recommendations section which allows participants to give any feedback that could improver the surveyor’s next questionnaire. The survey ends with a final thank you as well as a reminder to return the questionnaire within 3 weeks. This is a clear instruction and it also shows how the surveyor is wanting the participants to take as much time as they need to answer this hefty 17 page questionnaire.

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