# Recoding

Qualitative Results
Survey items can be worded with a positive or negative direction:
• Positively worded: e.g., I know that I am welcomed at my child’s school, I feel that I am good at my job, Having a wheelchair helps, etc…Negatively worded: e.g., I feel isolated at my child’s school, I am not good at my job, having a wheelchair is a hindrance, etc…
• Likert scaled responses can vary: e.g., 1 = never, 2= sometimes, 3 = always; OR 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, 5 = strongly agree
• When creating a composite score from specific survey items, we want to make sure we are looking at the responses in the same manner.  If we have survey items that are not all worded in the same direction, we need to re-code the responses. E.g.: I want to make a composite score called “helpfulness” from the following survey items:
• 5-point Likert scaled, where 5 = always   4 = almost always  3 = sometimes, 2 = almost never  1 = never

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1. 1-I like to tutor at school
2. 2-I am usually asked by my friends to help with homework
3. 3-I typically do homework in a group setting
4. 4-I do not go over my homework with others

In this example, survey items 1 – 3 are all positively worded, but survey item 4 is not.  When creating the composite score, we wish to make sure that we are examining the coded responses the same way.  In this case, we’d have to re-code the responses to survey item 4 to make sure that all responses for the score “helpfulness” are correctly interpreted; the recoded responses for survey item 4 are: 1 = always, 2 = almost always, 3 = sometimes, 4 = almost never, 5 = never.

Now, all responses that are scored have the same direction and thus, can be interpreted correctly: positive responses for “helpfulness” have higher values and negative responses for “helpfulness” have lower values.

Also, you may wish to change the number of responses.  For example, you may wish to dichotomize or trichotomize the responses.  In the example above, you can trichotomize the responses by recoding responses “always” and “almost always” to 3 = high, “sometimes” to 2 = sometimes, and “almost never” and “never” to 1 = low.  However, please be advised to make sure that you have sound reason to alter the number of responses.