Course: Issues in Survey Research Design

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Homework Assigments

» Assignment 1: Proposed Sample Design, Data and Methods for Increasing Response Rates for your Survey

Please write a well-organized description of your proposed strategies for selecting a sample and ensuring high response rates for your proposed survey. There is no page length for this assignment, but a good written description can be concise and complete without writing pages and pages. Consider organizing your discussion under headings so that the flow of your arguments is clear to a reader. This approach is a very good one to use when you are writing a proposal to a funder. This assignment requires that you correctly use the concepts that have been discussed in the text and in class. For example, you must demonstrate that you know the differences among a coverage problem, a sampling error problem, and a non-response problem.

Here are some suggested headings, but please feel free to use your own. These points need to be covered, but not necessarily in the order used here.

Research Question: In this section, describe what you want to study. A proposal usually makes some statements about why the topic has been chosen. Topic choice is very often related to the question's significance or why it is important to get the answers you seek. You can talk about the overall goal of the project and if it makes sense for your topic and break down the goal into several aims or objectives. Please note that you must provide a brief description (1-2 paragraphs) of the significance of your topic.

Population: In this section, describe the universe to which you ideally would want to generalize your results. Then you describe the target population that you might be able to identify concretely and for which you can create a sampling frame.

Sampling Frame: Describe the frame or frames, any problems with undercoverage/overcoverage or the quality of the information in the frame. Are any of these problems a source of bias? How do you propose to deal with these problems?

Sampling Strategy: Describe how you will select your sample. If you are going to use stratification, clustering, or multi-stage approaches you need to describe these. Include a description of the potential sources in error and bias in your approach and perhaps the rationale for why this approach is still the best one for your study

Non-response Strategies: What do you plan to do to reduce non-response? What does the literature recommend that is relevant for your particular study?

» Assignment 2: Description of Data Collection Strategy

This assignment builds on your first paper that presented your research question and your sampling strategy. Feel free to attach your first assignment to this one so that I can see the continuity (or perhaps discontinuity) between the two. Remember you are moving towards a full proposal that describes your survey design. Also, feel free to make changes to your sampling strategy. Please highlight any changes made to your sampling strategy.

Please write a well-organized description of your proposed strategy for collecting data. As before, there is no page length for this assignment, but your description should be as complete as possible. Your description should address the questions posed below. Please correctly use the concepts that have been discussed in the text and class, and refer to readings as appropriate.

Examination of Your Choice of Data Collection Mode or Modes

  • Why did you choose the strategy that you are proposing? What other data collection strategies might have also been appropriate. Why did you choose this approach?
  • Explain how the method or methods that you have chosen are best suited to your research question, concepts of interest, population, time frame, and financial resources.
  • Does your data collection mode limit the type of data that you can collect? Please explain.
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the strategy you propose in terms of:
    1. coverage error
    2. sampling error
    3. non-response error
  • Are you proposing strategies that will address or reduce the effect of specific weaknesses?
  • What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of your approach regarding quality control, data entry, etc?

Description of Your Data Collection Strategy

  • Describe the procedures that you will use to collect your data.
  • What approaches will you use to reduce non-response?

Introduction of the Respondent to Your Study and How Data will be Collected

  • What issues should you consider when you introduce a respondent to your study and its data collection strategy?
  • Describe how you would address these issues.
  • Demonstrate how you will put your solutions into practice by writing a draft introduction to your study and it data collection mode which could be actually used in your study.

» Assignment 3: Instrument Construction

This is the third part of your proposal. So far you have described your research question(s), the population that you will study, your sampling strategy, and your method(s) of data collection. In this part of your proposal, you provide a description of your instrument and show examples of some of your actual questions

The concepts that are covered in your instruments are linked to your research question. So one step in the process of laying out your instrument is to draw up a list of all the concepts you would like to measure in order to adequately address your research question.

  • For this assignment you need to provide an overview of the concepts you need to measure in order to study your research question. The best way to do this is to develop a logic model that shows your major classes of variables and how they are associated with one another.
  • You should include a narrative that describes how your major concepts are linked together. Some of you will show independent and dependent variables, but others of you may just be examining associations rather than causal links
  • Your logic model can then be used to generate a list of the variables that you need for your instrument. Provide a list of your variables grouping them by your major conceptual categories.
  • Provide an outline of your instrument that incorporates the variables that you have listed.
    • Rather than just following the list order above, now you organize your concepts so that the order of the questionnaire will make sense to the respondent.
    • Sequence the sections of the questionnaire: Consider how the "conversation will flow" and how to keep the respondent engaged & delay sensitive items
    • Explain why you have chosen the sequence that you have selected.
  • Provide or develop the actual instrumentation (questions) for at least two sets of variables.
    • Your major outcome variable(s) and at least one of your important independent variables (or another important variables if you are just looking at associations).
    • Write a description of how you chose your measures.
    • Explain how you adapted your questions to the type of data collection methodology you have chosen and the types of respondents in your study.