Surveys and Research: A Personal Journey

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I did not have much experience with surveys before this week.  Truth be told, I have always kind of avoided participating in them as well as creating them.  I guess I have always felt that even the BEST survey will still be faulted due to an inherent disconnect between the audience and the survey provider.  After this week however, I do think there is much more of a value in surveys and the information that can be collected through surveys is both vast and in depth.  With the technological developments we have seen in the last few years, it has become possible to implement surveys and reach a very large audience using just the internet and social media.  Also, because of the internet, we have been able to see results immediately.

We were asked to conduct a survey of our own for our graduate program and I was initially undecided as to what I might research using a survey.  I began to think of ideas that would engage my social media audience such as movies or music but found that I was not quite sure what specific questions I might ask a large audience.  Then, after watching the lecture for this week, I decided to research a topic that I deal with on a daily basis:  higher education.  Specifically, I wanted to survey the perceived value and accessibility of a higher education degree in the United States today.  Using information from the lecture, I realized that I had to be careful with the wording of my questions and must admit, I edited multiple versions of just about every question on my survey.  The service that I used to create the survey was SurveyMonkey, and I must admit, I was impressed with the services that the company offers on even the free surveys.  Some of my general questions (age and degree earned) were populated automatically from SurveyMonkey once I typed in just a few keywords.  The lecture also discussed having an incentive for completing a survey and though I do not have one, I did make the survey very brief in hopes that it will compel more people to complete the survey.  This is my first experience with creating a survey and now that I know the wealth of information that they could possible reveal, I am more eager to engage with them going forward.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XJCV5N2  <— Take My Survey Here

Have you created a survey before?  What was the most surprising part to you?

Do you think that we will ever vote for President using an online survey/voting mechanism?

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4 thoughts on “Surveys and Research: A Personal Journey

  1. Thomas-
    Before this weeks lecture I too did not place a lot of value in surveys because I felt that there were a lot of uncontrollable variables that could skew results, rendering them useless anyway. I believe now that there is so much that can be learned from surveys as well. I took yours and I thought you did a great job of keeping it short and to the point, and also removing bias from your questions. I am interested to read your next blog about the results! In answer to your question, I have created a survey before using surveymonkey but this time i went with Qualtrics. The most surprising part for me is seeing how fast and far a survey can spread. I was shocked that anyone would take the time out to complete my surveys because I normally do not. You also pose an interesting question: will we ever be voting for president through surveys? I think that if we did it would increase voter turn-out substantially, but I don’t think that it will happen anytime soon. There is still no way to virtually moderate surveys for authenticity with enough precision that it would require. I personally would miss the whole voting ‘experience’ if we did start using an online method, but I do think it would help more voices be heard. Great post!

  2. I am on the complete opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to surveys; I LOVE them. I even participate in them on purpose! I think though that this comes with my experience in HR and employee satisfaction. Survey’s were actually the only reliable way to get this information due to anonymity concerns with paper surveys (believe it or not people thought we would recognize their handwriting!!) and personal interviews (no one wants to tell their boss what they don’t like about the company). I think in all my years of developing employee surveys, the most surprising thing about them was the amount of nudging it takes to get people to complete the survey. Complaints seem to flow so easily and I wondered when given a tool to facilitate change, to have an anonymous voice, people still shy away from it.
    It is curious to me that people mistrust surveys so much and makes me ask the question “why.” Personally, I think it is due to the fact that so-called “short” telephone surveys, you know the ones that actually take 10 minutes of your time when you are trying to walk out of the door, were no where near “short” and this has permanently damaged the survey world’s reputation.
    You definitely bring up an interesting question as to whether or not we will use an online survey mechanism to vote for president. I think that this could be a viable option, as long we could ensure data integrity and I think that we would still have go to a voting station to have our identification verified.

  3. My first survey, as well. I must admit, it was much easier to put together than I thought it would be. Qualtrix was easy to navigate after a few minutes and offered a wide variety of questions and formats, which definitely was a relief. The value information is as high, probably higher, than ever. It’s funny how something as “primitive” as a survey would still be so prevalent in today’s hi-tech world. But one thing I have found out over the years is this: you never know what someone will tell you unless you ask.

    As far as an online election? Probably not in our lifetime.
    http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/why-we-still-cant-vote-online-and-why-may-be-good-thing

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone, particularly glad to see a fan of surveys having a chance to say something! Most of what I read this week from our responses seems to indicate that we don’t have much experience with surveys and weren’t particularly looking forward to the assignment. Reflecting now, for the sake of information gathering and learning from surveys, I certainly think there is much more novelty to them and appreciate what they offer us as far as insight into the digital tribe (theory class anyone?) we have become. Kristina, I was laughing at the handwriting comment you made, but it is interesting how broad the spectrum is with comfort of giving up information. Some people are scared their handwriting might get recognized, while others are logging in to banking information from public computers and returning to Target no problem, despite them losing the integrity of an estimated 70 million shoppers’ information. Thanks for the comments everyone!

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