The choice of data collection technique is of fundamental importance in any research process since it primarily determines if the data collected will assist to answer the key research questions in a convincing manner. A good choice is that which facilitates the systematic and objective collection of data or information about the phenomena under study (Bourque & Fielder, 1995).
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There exist different kinds of data collection techniques, which fit different scenarios depending on the objects of the study as well as the research design used. Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it should be the function of the researcher to choose the technique that offers maximum benefits in the context that it is used in (Cano, n.d.).
Below, this paper demonstrates why a self-administered questionnaire should be used to collect data in a poll of students at Metro University on their preferences among three candidates who are running for office.
A self-administered questionnaire is a data gathering tool used to collect information from study subjects who complete the tool themselves (Bourque & Fielder, 1995). This strategy is one of the most commonly used for gathering data in research studies. The procedure has distinct advantages over other data collection techniques such as personal interviews or telephone surveys if the objective is to poll university students for the purposes stated above.
First, the strategy can be used to reach large numbers of students in the shortest time possible by adopting electronic mediums. It is easier, faster, and cost-effective to administer the questionnaire online and still receive objective responses (Bourque & Fielder, 1995). In a university setting, students can be found in large numbers within the institution’s premises.
The researcher can utilize this fact to his own advantage by gathering all the respondents at a central location for purposes of completing the questionnaire. It is also easier and cost-effective to hand-deliver the questionnaires to the subjects and collect them at a later date agreeable to both the researcher and the respondents (Cohen et al, 2007).
Self-administered questionnaires are effective at extracting responses on particular topics that may be deemed sensitive (Bourque & Fielder, 1995). The electioneering period is often sensitive and emotive, and as such, students may not be able to offer the needed information through personal interviews or telephone surveys.
For instance, they may fear to open up on why they prefer one candidate over the other. In self administered questionnaires, however, respondents will obviously feel less threatened to respond to a question in private or through a mailed questionnaire. Cohen et al (2007) asserts that respondents are always suspicious and feel threatened by strangers who ask them to respond to sensitive issues as is the case with personal interviews or telephone surveys.
Questions in a self-administered questionnaire can be set in a way that will elicit more explanation in areas that may be deemed unclear through the utilization of open-ended items (Bourque & Fielder, 1995). In equal measure, the strategy does not require any form of training as is the case with personal interviews, and hence is neither labor intensive nor costly to undertake. However, it elicits a low response rate (Cohen et al, 2007).
Bourque, L.B., & Fielder, E.P. (1995). How to conduct self-administered and mail surveys. Thousand Oak, California: Sage Publications, Inc
Cano, V. (n.d.). Questionnaire or Interview. Retrieved from <https://www.qmu.ac.uk/>
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, R.B. (2007). Research Methods in Education, 6th Ed. New York, NY: Routledge