My name is Shobha Mittal and I am an independent consultant. Seeking a higher response rate on the surveys has always been tricky in the field of evaluation.
Lessons Learned: Although there are many good references available to help evaluators impact the response rates, I have found that thinking like a respondent before seeking their response improves the likelihood of success. From a respondent’s perspective there are two major concerns (Besides of course having the inclination or time to respond). First is the technological comfort of responding to a questionnaire electronically versus the hardcopy response, and the second is the fear of consequence which may follow an honest response.
The response seeker must address the respondent’s need prior to expecting them to accommodate his/hers.
Hot Tip: Using a mixed mode survey strategy and providing both the paper survey method for survey response with an additional option of an electronic response may address both concerns of the respondents. Some respondents may not be assured by the confidentiality of the survey process and sometimes perceive the fear of being identified through their email IDs. The paper survey option will encourage such respondents to use the paper survey instead of a no response. Conversely, some respondents may find dealing with paper and pencil difficult with the technological advancement and may prefer using the electronic version instead of a no response. Providing a mixed mode response method is likely to help respondents take the survey than to ignore it. The mixed mode methodology requires extra time, efforts and resources. However, such costs may not outweigh the benefits.
Shobha will be presenting her work on mixed methods survey research as part of the poster exhibition at AEA’s annual conference this November in San Antonio. Join us at Evaluation 2010 to connect further wish Shobha and over 1000 other presenters!