There are numerous different ways to use surveys and they can be adapted to focus on any desired area of research or to suit different groups of participants.
|Research method||Preparation time||Time to gather data||Time to analyse data||Not suitable for ...||Does data indicate wellbeing?||Who, what, where people experience wellbeing?||Is it an activity in itself?|
|Surveys||If using standard questionnaire, very little time. More time needed for devising own questions||Depends on how survey is administered (e.g. online or paper)||Depends on size and scope of survey (e.g. closed versus open questions)||Self-administered not suitable for people who have limited writing skills, Online not suitable for people who don’t use/have access to the internet||Yes, with appropriate questions||Yes, with appropriate questions||No|
- anyone who can read and write
- people who find it difficult to talk in front of group
- large groups where there is insufficient time for other methods.
What information is collected?
- can be used to identify indicators
- can be used to identify who, what, where.
How is information collected?
- you can use a ready-made questionnaire
- you can design your own questions
- you can use multiple-choice questions
- you can use open questions
- you can hand paper copies to each participant to fill in
- you can use an online web survey, such as SurveyMonkey or SmartSurvey
- you can read out questions to participants (individually or in a group) and record their responses.
Watch out for:
- surveys are very simple to use for evaluation but it is harder to write rigorous non-biased questions for research
- bias - e.g. setting questions that encourage people to answer in a particular way
- response rate – if you are sending surveys out you may have a fairly low response rate, especially if you are not in regular contact with participants. Handing out a paper survey at the end of a session might ensure a higher response rate
- ensure your questions are clear without being leading. Your respondents may interpret your questions very differently, which can make it difficult to compare answers
- ensure that there is a breadth of multiple choice answers to choose from or responses will necessarily end up backing-up your own beliefs
- if you are using another person to hand out and collect the survey (e.g. the teacher of a school group) make sure that you have buy-in from them so that they see getting them back as important. You could brief staff before a session and perhaps ask them to appoint one member of staff to be responsible for asking students about each session or giving out and collecting the surveys
- make sure that the language you use is suitable for and understood by the group taking the survey
- an online questionnaire might be more appropriate as a follow-up for one-off sessions where you don’t know participants.