Survey Says…Don’t Survey

As a research analyst, I need to stay current on the latest survey practices and findings. In my free time, I comb through academic papers, newspaper articles and even blogs to discover the newest and most innovative ways to survey and engage people. The other day, I came across an interesting article by Sudhir Venkatesh that made some very intuitive points.

A sociologist was having problems finding willing survey participants. He would send emails, make phone calls and ask random pedestrians for a minute of their time, all to no avail. Eventually, he discovered that when he approached people in a more conversational way instead of asking them to participate in a survey, he was much more successful. Unsurprisingly, people responded better if they thought they were engaging in a conversation rather than being used as a data source.

Perhaps this finding is obvious, perhaps not. But the fact is that framing surveys as conversations is what K12 Insight is known for. Working with more than 300 school districts nationwide, we help superintendents provide a forum for stakeholders to voice their opinions and engage in two-way dialogue with district leadership. Indeed, surveys are about giving information and receiving feedback and if I learned anything from the article I read, it’s that all surveys should be conversations.

1 thought on “Survey Says…Don’t Survey”

  1. Most of the surveys I’ve recently encountered have added some “reward” for participating, like a prize or opportunity to win a prize. They are missing the point, and as more surveys come along and will participate less and less, knowing that without the conversational connection, I have better things to do with my time than use their data collection efforts to organize my thoughts.

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