The University of Minnesota is participating in a national survey focused on college students. As I am student at UMN I received an email describing the survey, asking me to participate. It is convenient for the university to gain participants by sending out an email to the students via their school email address. The emailed described the survey as the following:
"The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is participating in a national survey about college students. Conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, this survey asks your opinion on many items relevant to examining the impact of college. Every year, students from college and universities across the country are asked to participate in the same survey. It asks about your academic work, your interaction with faculty and peers, your participation in campus activities, your perceptions of the climate on campus, and your use of campus services."
Although the description represents the survey well, as the participant I felt as though they should have mentioned the time allotted to complete it. This survey took up quite a bit of time. It was so long that the participant was able to save and return to finish the survey. I feel that the length of the survey will hurt the response rate that the researchers get for this. The survey offered incentive of having your name added into a drawing and if you win you get $50 to the bookstore. Yet, in order to enter the drawing, at the end of the survey the ask for your contact information, so they are able to contact the participant for future studies. I felt that giving this unknown survey my address, phone number, and name was a little invasive and I felt annoyed that this is the approach the researcher took.
In combination with the long length it is also damaging that the survey is conducted online. There are both advantages and disadvantages with this survey being conducted online. Some advantages are that the survey is inexpensive to conduct and the results are instant. A major disadvantage, especially with the length, is that participants will click out and give up once they get tired of answering questions. This survey took 30-45min. That is a very long time to complete a survey that is conducted online. I feel that this particular survey would be more effective if it had been done in person, as an in-depth interview. Although they would not be able to reach as many people as they did over the internet their answers would be longer and more thought out. Instead of using the scale of strongly agree or disagree, the researcher would be able to discuss certain scenarios or examples. An in-depth interview would be more effective in finding out about diversities on campus. Since the questions were rather straight forward and not sensitive there is no need for the anonymous researcher as more sensitive surveys call for. I also feel that an in person interview is expected to take longer than an online survey, this way the participants can be prepared and expect it.
The structure of the survey was relatively simple going between the participants demographic and/ or their thoughts about diversity. The structure was set up with multiple choice questions and likert scale. As the participant there were many multiple questions that I wanted clarification on but could not ask the researcher so had to work it out on my own. Also, the likert scale did not have a neutral option, so the participant must either agree or disagree with a statement- which I didn't always do. For these reasons as well, I feel that this survey would have been more successful if the questions had been done in person.