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I believe the content is suited to the research question for the following reasons. Firstly, as can be seen from the questionnaire sample, the questionnaire focuses on students who used one or the other of the CALL programmes which suggests the aim of the research is to find out which one is more suitable for the students. Secondly, it seems that the researcher wants to carry out a comparison of the students' performance in order to study the relevant features that can be used to measure which of the two programmes is preferred. Finally, he covered the relevant requirements such as the background information (gender, age, education and computer experience), technical features of the programme (Do you find the options within the program too many and confusing, just right or too few and, boring?) and the pedagogical features of the programme (Do you find the activity useful regardless of the particular words or the text?). Therefore, the content of the questions does seem very much serving the purpose of the parallel evaluations of the two CALL programmers.
Weaknesses of the questionnaire:
The questionnaire is divided into three sections: personal details, program design features and pedagogical features. In addition, there are sub-sections in sections (II) and (III) of the questionnaire which can be helpful and useful for participants when answering the questionnaire. However, the researcher failed to include the following elements: the title, the general introduction and the words of thanks. It is also worth saying that the researcher should have included his name and contact details. In fact, it might not be as important in this context as the researcher was present while the students answered the questionnaire.
Furthermore, he should have mentioned other factors such as the purposes of the study, student's name and to thank the students in advance for filling in the questionnaire. The students must be aware that there are no right or wrong answers; therefore, the researcher should request them in the introduction to give truthful and honest answers. Moreover, they should be promised of confidentiality and perhaps the anonymity if they desire so as to make them feel more comfortable and help them answer more honestly. It is also considered that participants would be more motivated if the researcher had offered to send a short abstract of the findings of the research when the analysis was completed.
Therefore, the following title might be useful to be put in the beginning of the questionnaire 'An investigation of the importance of using the computer programme for the preparation for the FCE exam'.
Following the title of the questionnaire, the researcher could have used something like the following to introduce the research:
'Hello, my name is George. I am doing this survey to discover the importance of using the computer programme for the preparation for the FCE exam. I would like to ask you to help us by answering the following questions. This is not a test so there is no 'right' or 'wrong' answer and you do not have to write your name on it. Instead you can choose nicknames. We are interested in your personal opinion. Please give your answers sincerely as only this will guarantee the success of the investigation. Thank you very much for your help'.
It is clear that each section has its own numbering; however, it would be a good idea if the researcher used numbering with the subsections as well. Obviously, he did not include any sort of instructions on how to go about answering the questions. Therefore, an instruction like the following is needed 'put a tick (X) in the appropriate box'. The researcher did not clarify the instructions in different questions. For example, question 5 of section (I) the students might not understand what s/he is expected to do here. For example if the student has been studying English with the assistance of computers for 3 years and 4 months, s/he might write number 3 inside (years) square brackets and number 4 inside (months) square brackets which is correct. However, other students might write 40 inside (months) square brackets which still would be correct but it is confusing without clear instructions. Additionally, others might put a tick (X) inside (years) square.
Therefore, an instruction like the following is needed 'Put a tick (x) in the appropriate box. If you have been studying English with the assistance of computers for (12) months or less, choose (months). If you have been learning for more than (12) months, choose (years)'.
It is obvious that the questionnaire is full of typing errors. For example, he did not put the question marks '?' at the end of question 8 of section (I), question 9 (the repeated number) of section (II), and questions 6 and 7 of section (III). It is also noticeable that the researcher has used numbers 9, 10 and 11 twice in section (II) which may confuse the respondents. Additionally, there is no question 16 in section (II). More importantly there are no instructions given to the participants as in questions 7 and 10 of section (I); this could cause problems for the respondents as there are a number of allowed responses and a number of possible methods of dealing with them. Therefore, the researcher could have written one specific instruction to refer to the whole questionnaire as illustrated below.
(Please put a tick (x) in the appropriate box, and you have to select one (and only one) box. Thanks).
Furthermore, question 7 of section (I) seems like an open-ended question (Any other reason? Please state) although this questionnaire is a close-end one. Therefore, it would be more appropriate if he used the following options (General interest ¯ or other reasons ¯).
Question 10 from the same section has nothing to do with the personal details; therefore, it should have been inserted in section (III).
Finally, the researcher should have left a space at section III for further comments if needed.
The researcher sometimes uses confusing words as in question 8 of section (I). The question as phrased might be considered vague; firstly 'do' indicates the present. What should a respondent answer if the computer is being repaired or has been lent to someone? Furthermore, the word 'you' could be considered ambiguous because we do not know who the 'you' refers to in this question? Is it the respondent or the whole family? The word 'have' as well could have different meanings, for example, does it mean own, have on rental or borrowed.
The question would be clearer if it was formulated as illustrated below:
Is there a computer in the house where you live? ¯ Yes ¯ No
The researcher used the word 'OK' in questions 1-10 of section (II) which is not considered to be appropriate as it might have different meanings since the word 'OK' comes between two opposite adjectives. Therefore, it would be more appropriate if he used a more neutral word such as the word 'neutral' which might have been a better alternative.
The researcher used words that have very general meanings in his questions which could lead to confusion. For example question 9 of section (III). This kind of questions would confuse the participants as the researcher used the phrase 'the activity' which seems too broad in meaning. Therefore, he could specify it as 'listening activity or reading activity and so on'.
Finally, he did not need to use advanced words such as 'manipulate, cursor, intrinsically, adequate, linguistic content and analogous' as this questionnaire is for an intermediate level. Therefore, the following words would be good substitutes 'use, mouse, really, enough, language and similar' respectively.
The researcher used leading questions, for example question 9 of section (I). The researcher assumes that the participants do have computers at homes; however, it might be the case that some of them do not have a home computer. Therefore, questions 8, 9 and 10 of section (I) would be better reformulated as shown below:
8. Is there a computer in the house where you live? ¯ Yes ¯ No (If No go to section II)
9. Do you use the computer for learning? ¯ Yes ¯ No (If No go to section II)
10. State the name of the program(s) that you have been using (space)
The researcher used double-barreled questions which means he combined two or more questions into one as has been done in questions 6 and 10 of section (I) and 14 of section (II). Questions phrased like those will result in confusion to the respondents as there are two questions in number 6 of section (I) and three questions in numbers 10 and 14 sections (I) and (II) respectively. Therefore, questions 6, 10 and 14 would be better rephrased as shown below.
6. Where are you studying at the moment?
Primary school ¯
Post-graduate studies ¯
Others? Please state ¯
10. Do you use the computer alone, in groups or does the teacher use the computer? (Choose the most common, one answer only)
Alone ¯ In groups ¯ The teacher ¯
14. Do you feel that most of the work is done by one or two students or the teacher? (Choose one answer)
One student ¯ Two students ¯ The teacher ¯
Finally, question 7 of section (III) might cause confusion not only for respondents but also for the researcher. The respondents may not know which part of the question they should answer 'the program has enriched their vocabulary' or 'the analogous programs is better'. The confusion may apply to the researcher as well as he might not know which part of the question the respondents have answered. Therefore, he should be more aware of such problems in order to get accurate responses. Thus, the question would be better reformulated as followed:
Has the material covered by the program enriched your vocabulary?
Yes ¯ Usually ¯ Neutral ¯ Sometimes ¯ No ¯
Questions numbers 1, 2 and 3 of section (III) designed with the same response format might cause a tendency to answer these questions in the same direction. Therefore, suggested versions of the above examples are mentioned below.
Do you find the program you used useful to your needs? (Choose one answer)
Yes Usually Neutral Sometimes No
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following sentence? (Choose one answer)
The program is suited to your age.
Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree strongly Agree
Is the program really interesting? (Circle one number)
Strongly agree 1 2 3 4 5 Strongly disagree