Just checking: an informal pilot test A survey of a school meals service was conducted using…

Just checking: an informal pilot test

A survey of a school meals service was conducted using
self-completion questionnaires to gather data from staff, primary school
pupils, post-primary school pupils and parents. The following examples are from
the pilot stage of the questionnaire for primary school pupils, and in
particular the problems identified by Sam, the 7-year-old son of a member of
the survey design team.

Why this case study is worth reading

This case study is worth reading for one reason: it shows
the value in testing a questionnaire on its target audience, highlighting how

Just checking: an informal pilot test

A survey of a school meals service was conducted using
self-completion questionnaires to gather data from staff, primary school
pupils, post-primary school pupils and parents. The following examples are from
the pilot stage of the questionnaire for primary school pupils, and in
particular the problems identified by Sam, the 7-year-old son of a member of
the survey design team.

Why this case study is worth reading

This case study is worth reading for one reason: it shows
the value in testing a questionnaire on its target audience, highlighting how questions
can be read and interpreted differently by different people (in this case the
adult questionnaire designer and the 7-year-old target group respondent).

What the respondent saw

The first problem that Sam, our junior researcher, picked up
was an ambiguity in the question wording:

Q. What do you have for breakfast? Put a tick in each square
if you have that food for breakfast.

Respondents were given a list of items to tick
(multi-response):

Cereal _

Toast _

A cold drink _

A hot drink _

Fruit _

Hot food _

Biscuits or crisps _

I dont eat breakfast

Sam ticked all boxes except the last one. When questioned on
this by his mother, who knew that he didnt have all of these items for
breakfast, he pointed out that, theoretically, these were all breakfast foods,
and so it was valid to tick them all. Thus, the question was changed to What
do you have for your breakfast. Put a tick in each square that says if you
have that food for breakfast.

The second problem that Sam identified was an error in the
response codes. Respondents were given a list of questions relating to the
practical aspects of school dinners, and asked to tick a box relating to each
statement Yes, No, Sometimes. For most questions, these response items were
appropriate, for example:

Q. When you have school dinners does the food taste

nice?

Q. Do you get enough to eat?

Q. Does the food look nice?

Q. Is the dining room clean and tidy?

Q. Is the dining room too small?

Sam pointed out that the response item sometimes was not
appropriate for the final question Is the dining room too small? as the
dining room did not change size. Thus, this response item was deleted for this
question.

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