Research in Higher Education

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 267–281 | Cite as

The meaning of response categories: How often is “occasionally,” “often,” and “very often”?

  • C. Robert Pace
  • Jack Friedlander


Samples of undergraduates from 30 colleges and universities responded in two ways to statements about how often they had engaged in various activities: first by indicating “never,” “occasionally,” “often,” or “very often,” and second by indicating the number of times they had engaged in the activity. Comparisons of the two sets of responses indicates that: (1) there are wide individual differences in the meaning attributed to each response category; (2) despite individual differences, the group data show clear modal differences between occasionally and often and between often and very often; (3) the median difference in the meaning of each of the response categories is very small between one institution and the next and between types of institutions; and (4) based on the present data, there is no compelling need to develop separate norms for different types of institutions.


Individual Difference Response Category Education Research Group Data Median Difference 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Angoff, W. H. Scales, norms, and equivalent scores. Chapter 15 In R. L. Thorndike, (Ed.),Educational Measurement, 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education, 1971, pp. 508–600.Google Scholar
  2. Cliff, N. Adverbs as multipliers.Psychological Review 1959,66 27–44.Google Scholar
  3. Cliff, N. Scaling.Annual Review of Psychology 1973,24 473–506.Google Scholar
  4. Cronbach, L. J.Essentials of Psychological Testing, 3rd ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1970.Google Scholar
  5. Festinger, L., and Katz, D. (Eds.).Research Methods in the Behavioral Sciences. New York: Dryden Press, 1953.Google Scholar
  6. Glock, C. Y. (Ed.).Survey Research in the Social Sciences. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1967.Google Scholar
  7. Jackson, D. N. and Paunonen, S. V. Personality structure and assessment.Annual Review of Psychology. 1980,31 344–551.Google Scholar
  8. Jahoda, M., Deutsch, M., and Cook, S. (Eds.).Research Methods in Social Relations, Part I: Basic Processes. New York: Dryden Press, 1951.Google Scholar
  9. Katz, D., Cartright, D., Eldersfeld, S., and Lee, A. (Eds.).Public Opinion and Propaganda. New York: Dryden Press, 1954.Google Scholar
  10. Pace, C. R. College Student Experiences (a questionnaire). Los Angeles: UCLA Laboratory for Research on Higher Education, 1979.Google Scholar
  11. Pace, C. R. Measuring the quality of student effort. InImproving Teaching and Institutional Quality, Current Issues in Higher Education 1980, No. 1. Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education, pp. 10–16.Google Scholar
  12. Parducci, A. Range-frequency compromise in judgment.Psychological Monographs, 1963,77, No. 2.Google Scholar
  13. Simpson, R. H. The specific meaning of certain terms indicating different degrees of frequency.Quarterly Journal of Speech 1944,30 pp. 328–332.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Robert Pace
    • 1
  • Jack Friedlander
    • 2
  1. 1.University of California at Los AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Center for the Study of Community CollegesUSA

Personalised recommendations