Term Paper: Response Effects of Electronic Surveys

Pages: 10 (3251 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 13  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Education - Computers  ·  Buy This Paper

Extant literature has been dedicated to response effects of electronic surveys. Kiesler and Sproull (1986) carried out an electronic survey to determine the response effects of electronic surveys. In their survey respondents were presented with a program that could process text in the carrying out their self-administered, computer-based questionnaires. They noted that the increase in the number of computer users in the society has made the use of electronic survey to become common place. They noted that this form of survey has the benefits of reduced costs of processing since it involves the automated transformation of the data that is presented in a form that can be read by the computers.Kiseler et al. further noted the advantages of electronic surveys and they pointed out that this form of surveying has the merit of bringing together the advantages of interviews and paper mail surveys. The advantages include promptness and the ability of this form of survey to bring about complex branching. The other advantages that are derived from the paper mail into the electronic survey systems are the fact that the system is standardized and anonymous at the same time. The core matter in this paper is the way in which the electronic surveys affect the responses of the respondents to whom it is administered. Kiesler et al. (1986) conducted an experimental sample survey to investigate the health attitudes, behaviors and the traits (personal) by means of two forms of administration. The used the paper mail and the electronic forms of survey. They discovered that the administration of closed-end responses in the electronic survey method was regarded by the respondents as being socially undesirable and were regarded as being extreme while the administration using the paper mail was regarded by the respondents as being more desirable and less extreme. However, open-ended responses gave the respondents the opportunity to edit their opinions but had the demerit of being relatively long and more hence lead to more disclosure. Their findings were in fact similar to the results obtained from studies investigating other forms of computer mediated communication.

The field of survey research has been greatly impacted by the internet and the number of electronic surveys has increased as well. The principles that guide the implementation and construction of these surveys are unknown unlike surveys done via the telephone and traditional mail. However research has shown that many of the same principles apply to electronic surveys With the wide format of internet survey additional research is needed to define these principles for the effective use, design and implementation of internet surveys.

Three common forms of internet surveys are discussed here. There are different forms of surveys from simple email surveys to sophisticated systems. Disk by mail format is one of the earliest forms of internet surveys. This approach involved sending a disk containing the survey to the respondents. Instructions involve opening the file completing the survey and mailing the disk back to the researcher. These surveys had the ability to interactively guide the respondent through the survey. In additional these surveys can offer very many innovative features but cost and time in terms of programming are a hindrance. Furthermore these surveys are limited by the technological capability of the respondent's computer and the fear of downloading malicious software.

Another type of survey discussed here is the email survey. The survey is conducted through an email message or as an attached file. (Bradley 1999)They are quick and require little technological know how. Respondents are required to reply the email. However some researchers found out that some respondents had difficulties in remembering to reply the email before answering the survey or they had trouble in downloading and converting attachment. Another disadvantage is that they raise privacy issues since the respondents email address is included as part of the response

A third type of survey involves posting the survey to the World Wide Web. The email message is sent to the respondents with a link containing the URL to the survey. These surveys can be designed in such a manner they include a wide variety of response options. Their advantages are numerous in terms of analysis of data. Its is easy to download these programmes into a statistical analysis programme. However these surveys require the greatest amount of technological knowledge. They therefore need skilled technologists who can design web surveys. It is interesting to note that survey methodology professional have not been behind the aggressive use of internet surveys. The hurdle has been the ability to tailor proper principles of survey design and implementing these on electronic surveys (Dillmann and Bowker).In conclusion to fully acquire the potential of the internet for designing and implementing surveys professional with a background on survey methodology must take a leading role.

The use of computers in surveying involves the use of a program that is designed to administer the various questions and to act as the point of collection of the various answers as replied by the respondents. There are various methods administering the survey. The first method includes the gathering of the respondents in a central point and then letting them answer the various questions at the computer. The second method includes the carrying out of survey on an installed network belonging to an organization. The third method includes the use of a specialized program that can be saved on a disk in order to allow different respondents to execute the program in their own computers and then take the survey. The respondents then return the disk. Extant literature has been dedicated to the various methods of collecting data on electronic surveys.Kiesler and Sproull (1986) discusses the gathering of the respondents in one central point and then presenting them with the survey. The results obtained in their study had a touch on the effects of response of electronic surveys. The consensus is that the use of electronic surveys has more socially desirable results as compared to the paper and pencil method of surveying (Booth-Kewley, Rosenfeld, and Edwards, 1993 Beebe, Mika, Harrison, Anderson, and Fulkerson, 1997).

Computers in surveying has been shown to have better results as compared to the use of the other traditional paper and pencil techniques of data survey (Booth-Kewley, et al. 1992)as indicated by a study conducted by Kiesler and Sproull (1986) that shown that the use of closed end responses in the carrying out of electronic surveys were regarded by the respondents as being less socially desirable and were considered as being extreme in comparison with the responses obtained from the paper and pencil-based counterparts.

A lot of research has been dedicated to the design of various forms of survey. There has been various studies that were focused on the factors that influence the response to various forms of surveys such as telephone and surveys (Dillman, 1978) the work of various researchers have outline the importance of taking into account various elements of design in the process of coming up with the various types of surveys. Our intention in this paper is however centered on the effects of response to electronic survey. We are therefore restricted to the discussion of the design consideration in the coming up with various forms of electronic surveys. It is important to come up with designs that are pleasing to the respondents in order to fully capture their attentions which are important to participating in the survey and the collection of the accurate results. Apart from the importance that should be accorded to the design of the electronic surveys it is also important to ensure that the number of questions is moderated and strategically placed in order of importance. It is also important to perform some basic tasks such as respondent pre-notification in personalized e-mails so as to generate higher rates of response.

The process of designing the survey must be pegged on good design practises. In order to ensure that there is a large number of quality respondents it is important to ensure that the electronic survey can be supported by multiple operating systems and web browsers (Yun & Trumbo, 2000). It is also paramount to ensure that the electronic survey is designed so as to present the various survey questions in a manner that is both adaptive and logical to the ( Kehoe & Pitkow, 1996).The survey must also be able to present the respondent with the opportunity to participate in long questionnaires. ( Over 50 questions) as postulated by Smith ( 1997 ).The survey should also be designed in order to collect and submit results for questions that are either quantifiable and also those that require the typing of the correct answer.

The principles that must be employed in the process of designing the paper and pencil-based surveys must be applied in part when designing the email surveys. The design of the questionnaire screen design is somehow complicated since it entails an expert knowledge of scripting and coding in various programming languages. The web-based surveys do however present the researcher's with a format that is friendly and hence… [END OF PREVIEW]

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