Pretesting a questionnaire refers to the act of testing a questionnaire in a small sample before it is formally handed out to the larger population for data collection purposes. When preparing a questionnaire, the researcher should not presume that his initial attempts will provide a reliable questionnaire. Each question should be carefully scrutinized by the researchers to ensure that it won’t lead to skewed responses by being unclear or perhaps offensive to the responder. How well a questionnaire functions under actual data collection circumstances is the true test of its effectiveness.
The pre-test questionnaire is crucial for this assessment. The pre-test for the questionnaire plays the same function in questionnaire design as test marketing does in the creation of new products. Customers’ responses to the product and the associated marketing campaign are really tested through test marketing. In a similar vein, the pre-test offers the actual test of a questionnaire.
Advantages of Pretesting a Questionnaire:
- The investigator can learn what the questionnaire’s flaws are. Even a well-crafted questionnaire could have some issues. For instance, there might be vague questions, it might be necessary to drop some of them, ask some of them in a different way, or add some new ones. The best time to be aware of all of these issues is before the comprehensive survey is carried out, not after.
- It is possible to predict the size of the expected non-response.
- It is possible to get greater informant cooperation. With the right encouragement, even those who are unlikely to respond can be persuaded to complete the survey. It is the surveyor’s responsibility to determine what these appeals are.
Conducting a Pretest for the Questionnaire:
It is ideal to test the questionnaire on a cross-section of the population that will eventually be polled. The sample should be divided into different sub-samples when it is drawn by selecting. Regardless of the actual method of administration that will be employed, the pre-test should be conducted via a personal interview. Pre-testing must be carried out with the utmost care and carefully, or else needless and undesirable adjustments have to be made. The pre-test should be administered by the most knowledgeable interviewers in the company. If the pre-test indicates that the question needs to be significantly changed, the questionnaire should be pre-tested once again using in-person interviews.
The researcher should have the questionnaire printed once the last pre-test indicates there are no further adjustments needed. It is preferable to tabulate the pre-test response’s results. It is crucial that the researcher does a pre-test of the questionnaire and tabulates the responses. The pre-test is the cheapest form of insurance the researcher can get to guarantee that the questionnaire and the research endeavor will be successful.