Conducting field research in a primary school setting: methodological considerations for maximizing response rates, data quality and quantity
Trapp, G and Giles-Corti, B and Martin, K and Timperio, A and Villanueva, K, Conducting field research in a primary school setting: methodological considerations for maximizing response rates, data quality and quantity, Health Education Journal, 71, (5) pp. 590-596. ISSN 0017-8969 (2011) [Refereed Article]
The aim of this paper is to describe the five strategies used to increase response rates, data quality and quantity in the TRansport Environment and Kids (TREK) project.
The TREK project examined the association between neighbourhood urban design and active transport in Grade 5–7 school children (n = 1480) attending 25 primary schools in metropolitan Perth, Western Australia during 2007.
Children completed several survey components during school time (i.e. questionnaire, mapping activity, travel diary and anthropometric measurements) and at home (i.e. pedometer study, parent questionnaire).
Overall, 69.4% of schools and 56.6% of children agreed to participate in the study and, of these, 89.9% returned a completed travel diary, 97.8% returned their pedometer and 88.8% of parents returned their questionnaire. These return rates are superior to similar studies. Five strategies appeared important: (1) building positive relationships with key school personnel; (2) child-centred approaches to survey development; (3) comprehensive classroom management techniques to standardize and optimize group sessions; (4) extensive follow-up procedures for collecting survey items; and (5) a specially designed data management/monitoring system.
Sharing methodological approaches for obtaining high-quality data will ensure research opportunities within schools are maximized. These methodological issues have implications for planning, budgeting and implementing future research.
children, data collection, research methods, schools