Information Gathering Methods
There are various ways to gather feedback, and the methods you use will depend on what results you are looking for. Once you clearly define the information you need, design a method and questions that will help you retrieve that information.
Surveys and questionnaires can allow you to reach a large audience. Furthermore, by using specific questions you can get a clear data set. Unfortunately, surveys tend to have a very low response rate.
Here are some tips for increasing survey response:
- Ensure that survey questions are on topics of interest
- Let participants know how the survey will benefit them
- Communicate that a survey is coming ahead of time
- Make participation voluntary, anonymous and confidential
- Make your survey easy to complete
- Communicate your results
A focus group can be considered a group interview. It generally involves six to twelve persons in a facilitated discussion on a clearly defined topic.
Focus groups are useful especially if you want to create a dialogue on your program. Respondents can interact not just with an interviewer but also with each other.
A suggestion for general format of a focus group is as follows:
- Opening questions (Ex: What’s your name and how are you involved with the program?)
- Introductory questions to get the group thinking about the topic at hand (Ex: How did you first learn about the program?)
- Transition questions connect introduction to your topic of interest
- Key questions focus on your major area of concern and should take up most of the time (ex: How has the program changed your life?)
- Closing questions solicit any additional important information that participants feel is relevant.
Interviews can be a very valuable feedback tool, but can also be very time-intensive, as they require one-on-one interaction.
Interviews can be open-ended, which may make the data they gather harder to collate and analyze. More structured interviews make data gathered easier to fit into your analysis, but they may make the respondent distort their meaning, and can feel impersonal.