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Survey Research and Questionnaires in Criminology Essay

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Updated: Jun 11th, 2022

Introduction

Survey research is the most widely used data collection method in the fields of criminal justice and criminology as it assists researchers and professionals to gather the information that is unique to individuals, such as attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, expectations, and behaviors (Kleck, Tark, & Bellows, 2006). Although survey research uses several data collection methods, this paper focuses on the questionnaire to answer several questions related to the technique.

Responses to the Questions

The survey was administered using group-based, self-completed questionnaires targeting groups of 30 students sampled from the high schools (Pope, Lovell, & Brandl, 2000). The survey was cross-sectional in design, as information was collected from the students at a single period in time through the use of self-completed questionnaires (Maxfield & Babbie, 2014). Overall, this was the best method based on ease of administration, capacity to achieve a high response rate and design of the questionnaire (choice of responses were limited to fixed categories).

The questions on parental attachment and supervision, delinquent peer and heavy metal preference, and delinquency were closed-ended as they utilized several Lickert-type scales to record responses. No question appears to have utilized the open-ended format. Although the Lickert Scale is the most universal method for survey collection based on its success as an effective ordinal psychometric measurement of attitudes, beliefs and opinions (Croasmun & Ostrom, 2011), it is felt that more choices should have been offered in the Lickert scales to provide participants with a broader scope of responses. Most 3-point Lickert-type scales used in the survey may have limited the capacity of participants to respond more objectively.

The instrument is likely to have several types of validity, including

  1. content validity to assess whether the questions cover the full range of issues under investigation,
  2. face validity to ensure that the questions included in the questionnaire have a logical link to the main objective of the study,
  3. predictive validity to ensure that the tests and scales used in the questionnaire are able to predict future behaviors of participants, and
  4. construct validity to evaluate the extent to which the Lickert-type scales used in the questionnaire accurately measure the association between delinquency and heavy metal music (Maxfield & Babbie, 2014).

The questions concerning parental attachment and control are effective as they are able to measure the various constructs associated with the issue of parental control and attachment, such as supervision, trust, and identification. The high Cronbach alpha scores show that the questions are reliable based on their internal consistency (Maxfield & Babbie, 2014). However, the categories for the Lickert-type scales used in the questions need to be expanded to give participants more opportunities to respond as objectively as possible.

Lastly, in my view, the questionnaire is best placed to elicit the responses needed to explore the relationship between heavy music metal music preference and delinquency. Unlike interviews which are time-consuming and difficult to administer, the use of questionnaires in this study provides researchers with an inexpensive way to understand the attitudes, beliefs, and values of the participants with regard to the main variables of interest.

Conclusion

This paper has expounded on several aspects of survey research and the use of questionnaires to collect data from the field. Overall, it can be concluded that questionnaires are effective when the survey is concerned with collecting the attitudes, beliefs, values, and expectations held by a segment of the society toward a particular criminal justice or criminology issue such as delinquency.

References

Croasmun, J.T., & Ostrom, L. (2011). Using Lickert-type scales in the social sciences. Journal of Adult Education, 40(1), 19-22.

Kleck, G., Tark, J., & Bellows, J.J. (2006). What methods are most frequently used in research in criminology and criminal justice? Journal of Criminal Justice, 34(2), 147-152.

Maxfield, M.G., & Babbie, E.R. (2014). Research methods for criminal justice and criminology (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Pope, C., Lovell, R., & Brandl, S.G. (2000). Voices from the field: Readings in criminal justice research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Survey Research and Questionnaires in Criminology'. 11 June.

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