Title page for ETD etd-10072005-094817

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hart-Schubert, Patrice
URN etd-10072005-094817
Title An evaluation of sensory comfort components of survey questionnaries used for indoor environment problems in buildings
Degree Master of Urban and Regional Planning
Department Urban and Regional Planning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Edwards, Patricia K. Committee Chair
Bohland, James R. Committee Member
Woods, James E. Committee Member
  • Buildings Health aspects Evaluation
  • Indoor air pollution Measurement
  • Sensory evaluation
Date of Defense 1994-03-18
Availability restricted
The efficacy of indoor environment evaluation is, in part, a function of the reliability and validity of the different measures used. This thesis presents results of a study, conducted in a building without known problems, which compares the reliability and validity of sensory comfort components from three well-known survey questionnaires. A review of literature reveals that sensory comfort theory draws upon many disciplines including, hedonics, psychometrics, and olfaction theory. The fundamental domains thermal, air quality, lighting, and acoustics and their dimensions are identified. The conceptual model integrates these theories underlying human response to sensory comfort.

The research questions involved in the selection of survey questionnaires are explored by examining sixteen indoor environment survey questionnaires. A meta-evaluation reveals that these questionnaires have three major functions, proactive, reactive, and re-evaluative studies.

Finally, the methods used to analyze survey questionnaires for reliability and validity are examined. An analysis of variance shows that the order in which questions were presented did not affect responses. The reliability of the measures tested ranged from poor to good. Examination of content and face validity by expert and untrained judges demonstrates inconsistencies in common or accepted meanings of the measures considered in evaluating the indoor environment. Analysis of construct validity indicates that not all survey questionnaire variables were categorized under their expected dimensions.

Contrary to advice found in the literature, this thesis suggests that the practice of combining items from different questionnaires is problematic. Finally, in buildings with known problems we can expect a relatively high degree of reliability and validity. However, the utility of such questionnaires in inventorying and assessing buildings without known problems will prove to be questionable.

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