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Chapter 9 Descriptive Research. Overview of Descriptive Research Focused towards the present –Gathering information and describing the current situation.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 9 Descriptive Research. Overview of Descriptive Research Focused towards the present –Gathering information and describing the current situation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 9 Descriptive Research

2 Overview of Descriptive Research Focused towards the present –Gathering information and describing the current situation –May or may not involve hypothesis testing Answers the question “What is?” Many types of research fall within this classification

3 Types of Descriptive Research Survey Developmental –Longitudinal approach –Cross-sectional approach Case Study Correlational Normative Observational (a.k.a. qualitative) Action Causal-comparative (a.k.a. ex post facto)

4 Survey Research Methodology Survey research is the most common type of descriptive research Involves questioning techniques for data collection –Survey methodology consists of asking questions of a (supposedly) representative sample of the desired population at a single point in time. The persons of whom the questions are asked are called survey respondents –The most difficult part of conducting a survey is writing the questions

5 Census A survey which obtains responses from the entire population is called a census

6 General Survey Data Collection Methods Interviews Questionnaires

7 Interview Methods Phone interview –Common in marketing research –Not used much in HHP Personal interview –Applicable if the sample is small and accessible –Structured, semi-structured, or unstructured interview –Recording of information Focus group interview –Interview groups of people –Requires skilled facilitator An interview schedule or guide contains the questions to be read to the respondent during an interview as well as a place for recording the answers

8 Questionnaires A questionnaire is a self-report instrument that is generally mailed or handed to the respondent to complete with no help from the researcher –Administered questionnaire Respondents are directly given the questionnaire –Distributed questionnaire Questionnaire is mailed or electronically delivered Majority of survey research in HHP uses a questionnaire as data-collection technique

9 Questionnaire Development Composing Questions – each question should have three important attributes: focus, brevity, and simplicity –The questions should focus directly on the issue or topic relevant to the information needs of the study –They should be as short or brief as possible while still conveying the meaning –The questions should be expressed as simply and clearly as they can be

10 Questionnaire Development Questions should be worded so they are not ambiguous, misleading, or biased Double-barreled questions should be avoided Use simple sentences where possible and complex sentences only when essential Level of wording (vocabulary) should be appropriate for the intended respondents

11 Questionnaire Format Organization of Questionnaire –appearance and layout is important –length (no. of questions) is a major factor in general, longer questionnaires have a poorer return rate –place easy to answer questions first –sensitive questions should be near the end –items should be placed in a logical order –demographic information recommend placing demographic questions at end

12 Response Format Closed-ended ( structured ) –standard answers provided –easy to code and score –facilitates answering sensitive questions –may make for a long questionnaire –generally considered easy for respondent Open-ended ( unstructured ) –respondent may answer as they choose –exploratory; allows detailed response –preferable for complex questions –may be difficult to code and score –requires more time and effort of respondent

13 Appropriateness of Questionnaire Validity and reliability of the questionnaire should be determined before it is administered Use of a pilot study –Revise questionnaire as needed

14 Questionnaire Distribution Controlling costs –bulk mail rates –length of questionnaire (i.e., weight of mailing) High return rate –self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) –postage-paid, business reply envelopes –good mailing list –follow-up strategy Cover letter Appropriate timing of mailing

15 Cover Letter Guidelines All mailed surveys should include a cover letter explaining the following: –who is conducting the survey –what is the purpose of the survey –why it is important for the respondent to answer –inducements for the respondent, if any –how is the confidentiality of the respondent being protected –basic instructions for completing and returning the questionnaire

16 Cover Letter Guidelines – 2 Personalize cover letter if possible (mail merge) –this has been shown to increase the return rate Corporate or institutional letterhead and printed envelopes should be used for the cover letter and mailing envelopes

17 Mailing Guidelines The typical survey questionnaire should be mailed in a standard number 10 business envelope first class postage stamps on the mailing envelope will result in the highest return rate bulk mail obtains the lowest return rate, is slower, but is less expensive, and can be over 3 ounces without extra postage... easily justified for large mailings

18 Return Mail Guidelines The self-addressed return envelope should be smaller than the mailing envelope so that it can be inserted in the mailing without folding –usually a no. 9 size business envelope –return postage should be provided affixing 1st class postage stamp results in the highest return rate a postage paid business-reply return envelope is more economical and is an acceptable alternative

19 Survey Research Errors Information obtained from a survey depends on the questions that are asked, on how the respondents react to the questions, and on what respondents choose to reveal about themselves Researchers are somewhat limited in their ability to assess the quality of the findings since there is usually no way of checking the accuracy or truthfulness of the responses Gathering meaningful information is difficult because survey research is particularly susceptible to two types of errors: –Nonsampling errors –Sampling errors

20 Nonsampling Errors Nonsampling errors have several sources including any differences in the way the researcher and the respondents interpret questions, the inability or unwillingness of the respondents to provide correct or honest information, mistakes made when recording or coding the responses, and missing responses –controlling response errors when subjects provide incorrect or false information is particularly difficult since they depend on the behavior of the respondents, something that is beyond the control of the researcher –controlling processing and data collection errors can be largely controlled by the researcher

21 Sampling Errors Sampling errors are those errors resulting from any differences between the data obtained from the sample, and the data that would have been obtained from the complete population –this is the type of error made from inferring a population characteristic based on a sample Sampling error or margin of error is often reported with survey findings –For example, a survey reporting that 57% of Iowans favor abortion with  3.5% margin of error really means that we can be 95% confident that the true population value lies within the ranges 53.5% to 60.5% (57%  3.5%)

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