Examine your research questions to determine the most appropriate research design. Indicate the research design that will be used to answer the research questions. If you have more than one type of question you must decide which is of paramount interest and it will dictate your overall research design (i.e., your plan for selecting participants, introducing an intervention [or not], collecting and analyzing the data, and stating appropriate conclusions). Be specific about the group or subgroups to be surveyed and the temporal ordering of the data collection relative to any induced or naturally occurring interventions of interest (if any). Briefly explain why you selected the design and also acknowledge the limitations (weaknesses). Note that the details of the various elements of the research design should not be presented–they will be developed in subsequent assignments. For example, for this assignment you may indicate that your population is represented by a randomly selected sample of third grade teachers. The details of how you will achieve this random sampling, however, will not be presented until assignment 2. Think of this as an overview of your design with the focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the design.
3. Specify whether you will be using a census or a sample in your survey.
For a census, indicate the population (what it includes and does not include), why you have targeted that population rather than broader or narrower ones, why you have chosen a census rather than sample, and how you will identify all units in the population and get contact information on them.
For a sample, indicate the following:
a. The population: what it includes and does not include; why you have targeted that population rather than broader or narrower ones.
b. The sampling frame: why you chose it rather than possibly available alternatives; its percentage of the population; and if less than 90%, how the frame is likely to differ from the population.
c. The type of random or nonrandom sample to be used: rationale for using that type rather than possible alternatives; procedures that will be used for drawing the sample from the sampling frame; if nonrandom sampling will be used, precautions that will be taken to minimize biased selection.
d. The sample size and rationale for it: if strata, clusters, or multiple stages of sampling are to be used, indicate the size for each and the rationale for those sizes.
4. Indicate and justify the strategies that you will use to maximize the response rate to your survey. Briefly describe the interests and concerns that your intended respondents are likely to have when being asked to participate in your survey. Indicate the means that you will take to boost the response rate, and explain why you think they are the best ones. Also indicate the nonresponse analysis that you will undertake if the response rate is less than 75 %.
When constructing the final assignment, this part of the assignment may be broken up and appear in the “Population”, “Procedures”, and/or “Instrument” section depending upon the procedure that you are using. It may make sense to keep it together as a subsection within one of these headings (e.g., “Procedures”), or it may be better to note different procedures under the more closely aligned section. For example, procedures related to the content and appearance of the survey would go under “Instrument”, whereas, discussion of updated sampling frame would go under “Population”.
5. If you are planning a mailed, e-mailed, or Web survey: Develop cover letters for your initial contact with the sample and for each planned follow-up contact.
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