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Questionnaires are another way of information gathering where the potential users of the system are given questionnaires to be filled up and returned to the analyst.

Questionnaires are useful when the analyst need to gather information from a large number of people. It is not possible to interview each individual. Also if the time is very short, in that case also questionnaires are useful. If the anonymity of the respondent is guaranteed by the analyst then the respondent answers the questionnaires very honestly and critically.

The questionnaire may not yield the results from those respondents who are busy or who may not give it a reasonable priority.

The analyst should sensibly design and frame questionnaires with clarity of it's objective so as to do justice to the cost incurred on their development and distribution. Just like the interviews and on the same lines questionnaires are of two types i.e. open-response based and the closed-response based.

Open-Response Based Questionnaires

The objective of open-response questionnaire is to gather information and data about the essential and critical design features of the system. The open-ended question requires no response direction or specific response.

This form is also used to learn about the feelings, opinions, and experiences of the respondents. This information helps in the making the system effective because the analyst can offer subsequent modifications as per the knowledge gained.

Closed-Response Based Questionnaires

The objective of closed-response questionnaire is to collect the factual information of the system. It gives an insight in how the people dealing with the system behave and how comfortable are they with it. In this case the respondents have to choose from a set of given responses. Thus the respondent can express their liking for the most favorable one from the possible alternatives.

The closed questions can be of various types and the most common ones are listed below.

1. Fill-in-the-blanks.

2. Dichotomous i.e. Yes or No type.

3. Ranking scale questions ask the respondents to rank a list of items in the order of importance or preference.

4. Multiple-choice questions which offer respondents few fixed alternatives to choose from.

5. Rating scale questions are an extension of the multiple-choice questions. Here the respondent is asked to rate certain alternatives on some given scale.

Open Vs Closed Questionnaires

The basic comparison between the two can be made on the grounds of the format used. Open form offers more flexibility and freedom to the respondents whereas the closed form is more specific in nature.

Open-ended questionnaires are useful when it is required to explore certain situation.They also require a lot of time of the analyst for evaluation.

Closed questionnaires are used when factual information is required. Closed questions are quick to analyze but typically most costly to prepare but they are more suitable to obtain factual and common information.

It is the job of the analyst to decide which format should be employed and what exactly should be it's objective. The care should be taken to ensure that all the parts of the form are easy to understand for the respondents so that they can answer with clarity.


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