Comparability of Data Gathered from Evaluation Questionnaires on Paper and Through the Internet
Leung, DYP and Kember, D, Comparability of Data Gathered from Evaluation Questionnaires on Paper and Through the Internet, Research in Higher Education, 46, (5) pp. 571-591. ISSN 0361-0365 (2005) [Refereed Article]
Copyright 2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
Collecting feedback from students through course, program and other evaluation questionnaires has become a costly and time consuming process for most colleges. Converting to data collection through the internet, rather than completion on paper, can result in a cheaper and more efficient process. This article examines several research questions which need to be answered to establish that results collected by the two modes of administration are equivalent. Data were gathered for a program evaluation questionnaire from undergraduate students at a university in Hong Kong. Students were able to choose between completion on paper or through the internet. In six of the seven Faculties the number of responses through each mode was roughly the same. Students in the Engineering Faculty favored the internet. Scores on the 14 out of 18 scales in the instrument showed small differences by mode of response, which became smaller still with controls for pertinent demographic variables. The main response question addressed in the study was whether there was any difference in the way respondents to the two modes interpreted the questions. The study demonstrated the equivalence of the two data sets by showing that both could be fitted to a common model with structural equation modeling (SEM). Five levels of tests of invariance further confirmed the comparability of data by mode of administration. This study, therefore suggests that changing to internet collection for course and program evaluations will not affect the comparability of ratings.