I recently re-read Research Methods in Education, one of the best-selling textbooks on the topic, after using Google Consumer Surveys for the first time. This may appear to be closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but it could also be seen as a competency-based assessment of prior learning.
Let’s just say that my re-reading of Part Two of the textbook, which covers planning educational research, seems to validate my questionnaire design, the Google Consumer Surveys sample, as well as the validity and reliability of the results.
However, let me share the backstory of my survey for the National Transfer Network so you can judge for yourself whether Research Methods in Education validates the methodology used by Google Consumer Surveys.
The National Transfer Network is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 by progressive institutions acting proactively to solve the U.S. college transfer problem for its partner institutions and students. As Sean O’Brien, the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Ashworth College, said earlier this year, “Estimates vary considerably regarding how many college students transfer. So, we decided to conduct our own survey.”
I recommended using Google Consumer Surveys, a fast and accurate market research tool that was considered the #1 online poll and #2 overall poll in predicting the 2012 Presidential election. Users complete survey questions in order to access high-quality content around the web, and content publishers get paid as their users answer.
With Google Consumer Surveys, educational researchers can choose their target audience, type their questions, and watch the results roll in within hours. We got complete results from 1,027 college students in 48 hours. It was easy, affordable and better yet — it was accurate.
Pricing for a custom survey project was $2,000. This included:
- Custom targeting with screening questions;
- Demographic targeting by gender, age, and geographic region;
- A representative sample;
- Results segmented by gender, age, geography, urban city and income;
- Interactive charts and data visualizations;
- Automatic discovery of demographic insights; and
- Downloadable charts and data sets.
To target our specific audience, the survey used a screening question: “Are you currently enrolled as a college student and, if so, at what type of institution?” Out of 7,407 respondents, 5 percent said “yes, at a 2-year public institution”, 1 percent said “yes, at a 2-year private institution”, 7 percent said “yes, at a 4-year public institution”, 3 percent said “yes, at a 4-year private institution”, and 84 percent said “no, I’m not enrolled in a college”. Only the 1,027 respondents who said “yes” to the screening question were then asked the subsequent four questions.
The survey then asked college students, “Where do you attend classes?” And 60 percent of the respondents said “on campus”, 17 percent said “online”, and 23 percent said “both”.
The survey asked college students, “How likely are you to transfer to another institution?” And 14 percent of the respondents said they are completely likely to transfer, 13 percent said they are very likely to transfer, 18 percent said they are somewhat likely to transfer, 11 percent said they are slightly likely to transfer, and 44 percent said they are not at all likely to transfer.
They survey also asked college students, “What is your primary reason for considering transfer to another institution?” And 43 percent of the respondents said they were seeking “to continue my education”, 18 percent said they were seeking “reduced costs/expenses”, 15 percent said they were seeking “more/better program choices”, 11 percent said they were seeking “a better fit”, 9 percent said they were seeking “an institution with a better reputation”, and 4 percent gave other reasons.
Finally, the survey asked college students, “Which of the following will be the most important factor when selecting another institution?” And 27 percent of the respondents said “transfer of most credits toward degree”, 23 percent said “reduced costs/expenses”, 20 percent said “more/better program choices”, 15 percent said “availability of financial aid”, 12 percent said “institution with a better reputation”, and 3 percent cited other factors.
Former university president and education consultant, Dr. Michael Hillyard, said, “The National Transfer Network’s study provides the supporting evidence those of us who have worked with students have long known through experience, and that is that students have many and varied educational interests, limited time, and scarce resources; yet they share a burning desire to achieve a degree. The path to a degree is oftentimes complicated by their personal factors, and our job as higher education leaders is to alleviate the additional burdens currently experienced in transferring of credits and institutions to help these people achieve their lifelong goal and enable them to more fully contribute to society.”
I’d say that validates my questionnaire design, the Google Consumer Surveys sample, as well as the validity and reliability of the results. But you may also want to read Research Methods in Education before using Google Consumer Surveys for yourself. You wouldn’t want to appear to be closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Have you read Research Methods in Education or used Google Consumer Surveys before? Share your thoughts of each in the comments below.