Friday, November 11
Questionnaire Design
Fri, Nov 11, 4:00 PM - 5:25 PM
Orchid AB
Designing Surveys for Youth and Schools

Developing Self-Completion Instruments for Children and Young People: Experience from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (303599)

Lisa Calderwood, University College London 
Emily Gilbert, University College London 
Lucy Haselden , University College London 
*Kate Smith, University College London 

Keywords: children, young people, sensitive questions, questionnaire design

The survey literature suggests that children answer questions differently from adults and that children may be able to handle different types of questions at different ages. It has also been found that small errors in question design such as ambiguity, can lead to greater errors in responses from children and adolescents and that children are particularly prone to satisficing as they have not yet developed the ability to fully think through their answers. For these reasons, designing questionnaires for children and young people requires great care and attention, and robust piloting and pre-testing, to try to ensure that survey data collected is valid and reliable. Additionally, ensuring that children feel about to give honest answers, in particular to sensitive questions, when they are completing questionnaires in a home setting is also crucial to collecting high-quality data.

This paper describes our experience of designing self-completion questionnaires for children and young people on the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) at ages 11 and 14. The MCS is following over 19,000 children born in the UK in 2000/1. At the Age 11 Survey the children completed their own self-completion questionnaire on paper lasting around 30 minutes. At the Age 14 Survey the young people completed a self-completion questionnaire on the interviewer’s tablet lasting around 40 minutes. This paper will cover the questionnaire design principles we applied, both when deciding which questions to include and also to the design of the questionnaire instruments themselves in terms of layout, routing, response categories. We will also highlight how the questionnaire design promoted honest and accurate answering behavior. We will highlight similarities and differences between our approach at ages 11 and age 14, and discuss best practice in questionnaire design for children and young people.