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In this activity, we will be exploring the ways survey design can affect the results of the survey. The purpose of a public opinion survey is to determine what the public thinks on any given issue.
How well that survey reflects the actual opinions of the public is referred to as a survey’s “reliability.” Some key factors in ensuring that a survey generates reliable data are the representativeness of the sample, as well as survey design, question wording, and the way the survey is administered.
Because we generally can’t survey an entire population, “pollsters take a sample of the population and use it to make inferences about the preferences of the population as a whole.” (Lowi, Ginsberg, et al 161) Simple random samples are considered the most representative.
In addition to sampling, the design of a survey and even wording of a question can influence the reliability of a survey’s results. This means that the data generated by a survey may or may not actually represent the true views of the population.
“The precise words used in a question can have an enormous impact on the answers that question elicits. The reliability of survey results can also be adversely affected by poor question format, faulty ordering of questions, poor vocabulary, ambiguity of questions, or questions with built-in biases.” (Lowi, Ginsberg, et al 162)
For this week’s discussion activity, you will design a hypothetical survey question to determine the opinion of College Students about an issue that is relevant to them in their roles as students at the College.
For Your Original Post: Respond to the following in complete sentences.
Write ONE question that would appear on your hypothetical survey of College Students.
In addition, address the following questions:
What issue will your survey focus on? (Examples: course offerings, student services, extra curricular activities, etc.)
What population will you survey? (Examples: All students, new students, students in transfer degree programs, students in Workforce programs, etc.)
How will you administer your survey? (Examples: Telephone, email, etc)
How does your survey design ensure that the data your survey generates reliably reflects the views of College students on your chosen issue?
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