Qualitative and quantitative methods of survey design
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Qualitative and Quantitative Methods of Survey Design What to do from start to finish ATopic The first step is to identify a specific research question and then become an expert in providing the answer. I keep a working list of everything that I want to know---every single question.

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Atopic l.jpg

  • The first step is to identify a specific research question and then become an expert in providing the answer.

    • I keep a working list of everything that I want to know---every single question.

      • Example: Are there differences among men and women? Old and young? By Social class.

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How to Go About Being an Expert

  • A point of agreement: a researcher must be fully informed about a phenomenon in order to measure it in a way that produces rich quantitative data !

  • I have found it extremely critical to learn how people experience, think, and talk about a topic BEFORE formulating (quantitative) questionnaire items to answer all of my research questions.

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The most productive qualitative methods:

Personal interviews—one on one.

  • Without an interview schedule.

  • With an interview schedule.

  • Group interviews/focus groups

    • With an interview schedule

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    How to use the interview

    • Identify the population of interest. It helps to identify or find typical cases.

      • Begin without a list of questions.

        • Take the subject(s) on a mental tour.

          • A mental tour involves placing subjects in their setting, and recalling the time and place where they experience the phenomenon one wishes to study.

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    Qualitative Methods

    • Yes, one should tape record OR have someone manually record a subject’s words.

      • Yes, one must have Human Subject’s approval

      • The task is to listen and probe:

        • Example: Can you think of other instances when _________. How is this different than _____________.

        • Comparison questions are ALWAYS helpful.

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    Qualitative Methods

    • After the interview, I read the transcript, and ask myself these types of questions:

      Who else experiences this in the same way? Who might experience it differently?

      What else is involved in this experience?

      What is the context? What is the role of context?

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    James Spradley’s Matrix

    • Space

    • Object

    • Act

    • Activity

    • Event

    • Time

    • Actor

    • Goal

    • Feeling

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    Qualitative Methods

    • The ideal number of interviews is….

      • The ideal is to continue doing these until one no longer learns new information.

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    Qualitative Methods

    • Focus groups are more efficient, but more difficult to organize.

    • Focus groups are small (6-10), structured, group interviews where subjects talk to each other rather than to the researcher.

    • Focus groups benefit from a trained moderator.

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    How many focus groups?

    • As many as one can afford, OR

    • One continue until no new information emerges.

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    An aside:

    • Personal interviewees and focus group members identify people with a potential to become the researcher’s consultants!

      • They can pretest surveys

      • They can assist in providing qualitative interpretations on your quantitative data

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    What next?

    • Qualitative data provides the many dimensions---and the ways of talking about all aspects of a research question.

    • I use the information gleaned from a close reading of the transcripts to reformulate my research questions and to formulate my questionnaire items.

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    Five kinds of measures

    • What kind of information* might I measure?

      • What people say that they do (behaviors)

      • What people think is true (beliefs)

      • What people are (attributes)

      • What people say they want (their attitudes)

        * Dillman, Don A. (1978). Mail and Telephone Survyes: The Total Design Method. NYC: John Wiley. P. 80

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    • Behaviors :

      • On an average weekday, how much times do you think about your breast cancer?

    • Attitudes

      • In your opinion, how do you feel about the legalization of marijuana?

        • Strongly oppose/Somewhat oppose/neither oppose or favor/favor somewhat/strongly favor

    • Beliefs

      • In your opinion, does chemotherapy always cause hair loss?

        • Always Yes/Usually Yes/Sometimes/Seldom/Almost Never/Never

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    Types of Qs, cont.

    • Attributes/demographic/Profile Questions:

      • What is your marital status?

        • 1 Never married 2 Married

        • 3 Separated 4 Divorced

        • 5 Widowed

      • How many years of education have you completed? Please tell us the actual number of years:

        • __ __ years

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    Content: Types of Q’s

    • Open-ended questions: subject write their answers in a few words

      • Describe some of the things that you do around the house_________________

    • Closed-ended questions: coded categories are provided—these can be analyzed more easily

      • Please circle all of the things the things that you have done in your household during the past seven days:

        • 1 Bought groceries 2 Packed lunches

        • 3 Cleaned 4 Ironed

        • 5 Cooked 5 Made bed

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    Open-ended Questions

    • Should be used sparingly.

    • Are more appropriate for an exploratory study.

    • Data must be encoded so that it can be analyzed

      • This is time-consuming

      • Reliable codes is an issue

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    Closed-ended Questions

    • The responses to closed-ended questions can be entered directly into a statistical program or spread sheet.

    • Closed-ended questions require categories that are mutually exclusive (only one response category per question) and exhaustive (a category for each person).

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    Content: Writing the Qs

    • Language: Most people agree that questionnaires should be written in the language of the population of interest.

      • If qualitative data are the basis of the questionnaire items, this should be relatively straightforward.

    • When it comes to forming items for the questionnaire, here are a few things I check, recheck, and check again:

      • That language is neutral, not emotional

      • That the subject is not led to socially desirable answers.

      • That the language is unbiased

      • That words are short---not too many letters or syllables

      • That words are precise and specific rather than vague so that everyone understands the items the way one intends it.

      • That language is common rather than haughty or academic

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    What should I ask?

    • How to decide what to ask:

      • Keep a focus on the research question.

      • Keep that list of the related questions.

      • Make dummy tables!!!!!

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    • Questionnaires should be formatted to promote visual appeal.

      • PAY someone well to do this!!!!!

    • Consider the ‘flow’ of items

    • Use transitions or Headings

    • Include “codes” that can be entered directly into your statistical software. This increases the reliability of data entry.

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    Closing Thoughts

    • Research is creative---that’s the allure.

      • Everyone has to find their own style

      • Everyone has to find what works for them.

      • What I have shared today is what works well for me.

        Research is time-consuming---that’s the greatest difficulty.

      • Collaborate to reduce the amount of labor and to increase the fun.

      • Ask for help: Teri Peterson, Statistical Consultant; Ann Hunter, Sociology.