Research development can be tough. For more than a year now, we have been battered with so-called results from polls and surveys. That’s on top of the usual amount of information being slung our way. It’s as if life were a continuous game of Family Feud: “Good answer, good answer!”
On top of that, every time you step out the door, someone is asking you to fill out a survey on how good of a job they or their business are doing. Yes, it’s “YAY YOU!” time again.
I tend to be a bit of a cynic or a devil’s advocate when it comes to surveys. More questions come to mind than answers.
- “Why are we asking this question?”
- “What are we doing with the information?”
- “How accurate is the data we are gathering?”
But overtime this system has become the accepted measure of so much in our culture. Numbers run the show, and some claim that you can make these numbers say anything you want.
There are important differences in how you use your survey. Is it to gather information about needs that are or are not being? Or is it to find out whether or not the employees of the store were nice enough for you? It could even be used to see you have enough pickles on your sandwich. The purpose of your survey matters; use them with care.
One good example is the case of “Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors.” This survey was developed by the Search Institute and the “Sidebar Survey,” which in turn was created by the cooperation between GLCYD and local youth-serving personnel. Both surveys have been administered to students in different parts of the U.P. over the past 10+ years. Back to those three questions:
- Purpose: to better understand the way youth in our communities perceive their environment, both the “good” and the “bad.”
- Use: to share the information with the students, their schools, and their communities; to bring the students together at a youth summit and work with them to to strengthen the environment for all of us.
- Accuracy & Success: based on some of the activities and programs that have come out of these summits, I would say yes!. For more details, visit https://glcyd.org/schools/youth-asset-summits/.
Remember, when it comes to evaluating surveys, it can be tough. Just remember to ask yourself: what is the purpose, how will the information be used, and how accurate is the data? Let these three questions be your guide to survey analysis!