EDU 625: Surveys and the GREAT Social Media Letdown

What is a survey anyways? What is the purpose? Are the results really that helpful? 

Regarding surveys, Littvay, Popa, and Fazekas (2013) identify that, “researchers’ inability to obtain data from a sampled individual is a constant threat to data quality in all of the social sciences” (p. 569).

One of the main issues that I believe alters the ability to use information or data from sources such as surveys is actually based on the survey itself. Sometimes surveys are not constructed properly and what will happen is that the person taking the survey might not understand the question or give up and not take the questions seriously. However, another one of the issues that is currently facing institutions that conduct surveys is the debate of web-based surveys or paper-based surveys. From my own experience at one of my schools that I teach at, it is difficult for parents to take the parent feedback survey because it is online. A lot of the parents do not have computers at home so if they do not come to the Open Houses or report card nights, where they take the surveys. On the opposite side, however, if you send a paper survey home, there is no guarantee that they will come back.

In order to ensure that the information I collect or use from my community is credible, I need to make sure that my questions are generalized and not too in depth, unless that is not my objective. If the questions are too much to handle for my survey takers, my data is not going to be as accurate as it could be due to the fact that I run the risk of having the “I just wanted to get through all these questions” variable.

Now, the current issue lies- how do I help my learners understand how to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate data from their community? I think that first, it is important to understand the community that you are working with and asking questions to. Once you have a better and more in-depth understanding of the community that you are involved with, then you can create a better survey and will be able to control the illegitimate data.

From my own survey that I created regarding Mobile Phone Use, I only had 9 responses. I posted my survey to Facebook and Twitter and I think that there was just not an interest in having to take a survey. I know for me personally when I was approached to take an online survey via Facebook, I didn’t do it because I really just didn’t want to be bothered. I think the same thing happened with my attempt. At the same time, 9 is better than 0, right?! My survey was all multiple choice questions, minus the last 2 questions that was a Yes or No answer and then had a box that had to be filled in regarding “Why” they believed that there is or is not value in mobile phone use in the classroom. From my results, I only had 2 people say NO that mobile phones are not useful in the classroom, with one reason being, “The teachers have Smartboards. The kids don’t need to use their phones.” That comment made me laugh because think about it…..there are some teachers who still do not even have a Smartboard so nice assumption for that person who wrote it. 

I have not created a survey since 2011, and that was a paper survey with many more participants than the one I had just conducted. Social Media definitely let me down this time. I thought I could rely on Facebook and Twitter to get some more survey results but I didn’t get the bite I wanted. 

I found this video and found it helpful. It definitely made me a little more optimistic! Watch this video for a brief overview about how to create a successful survey and increase participation rates! 

References

Littvay, L., Popa, S., & Fazekas, Z. (2013). Validity of survey response propensity indicators: A behavior genetics approach. Social Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell), 94(2), 569-589. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2012.00938.x

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