Z doświadczeń realizacji ankiety audytoryjnej i wywiadu zbiorowego w środowisku studenckim
Słomczyński, Kazimierz M.
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Two problems involved in a methodological interpretation of data collected in a questionnaire survey of students are discussed in the paper. The survey was" designed to explain the low efficiency of teaching on the Law Faculty of the University of Łódź. It was performed in the year 1962/63. Two kinds of data were used for analysis: (1) 130 questionnaires filled in by freshmen; (2) a shorthand report of a group interview with a number of persons who had formerly answered to the questionnaire. The first problem was that of interpretation of blank spaces left by respondents in their questionnaires. Students were filling the questionnaire in groups of 20-25 persons. There were six such groups, with two members of the research team supervising each group. However, they only checked answers to questions about personal features. The questionnaire contained 26 essential questions besides. These questions asked about motivations to start legal studies, about causes of poor scores during the studies, about interests related with the main line of study etc. The decision whether to sign the questionnaire or not was left up to the respondents. In 130 questionnaires 272 spaces remained blank, and as there were 26 questions, each questioned was not answered in 8% of cases in average. The distribution ranged from 0,0% to 17,6% of blanks per question. Thus the problem of relations between types of questions and respective numbers of blanks arised. No significant differences were found between questions classified, (a) as to their position in the questionnaire (whether printed at the beginning, in the middle or in the final part of the form); (b) as to whether they asked about opinions and attitudes or about non-psychological facts, (c) as easy or difficult; (d) as to their problem contents. However, a relationship was found between the number of blank spaces left and the fact of supplying his name by a respondent. Thus among 59 unsigned questionnaires there were only 27% forms filled without blanks, while among 71 signed forms there were no less than 52% of those completely filled in. This result was analysed form the point of view of practical suggestions for questionnaire surveys. It is believed in general that the feeling of anonymity positively influences the scope of informations supplied. Our findings seem to undermine the general validity of this opinion. Those respondents who signed their questionnaires with full names (and thus could not feel anonymous) were apt to supply more answers. As the next step it was investigated what categories of students were more apt to withhold answers to questionnaire items. 36% of the 130 students answered to all questions, 33% failed to answer to 1 or 2 questions, and 31% left out 3 or more questions. No significant relationship was found between those facts and social and demographic features of respondents. However, a distinct relationship appeared when students were classified as to their performance: poor students refrained from answering more, often than those who did at least fair (15% of questionnaires filled in completely as against 46%). This result could be influenced by general neglect of responsibilities, as well as by a feeling of failure in studies and thus by a reluctance to answer particular questions on part of poor students. An overall analysis of data proved that a lack of answer may be a result of one of the following circumstances: (1) a respondent may miss a question; (2) he may believe that the lack of answer is informative enough, e.g., by clearly indicating that the question „does not apply“ to him; (3) he may intentionally refrain from answering to a question. Such refusal to answer may have various causes: (a) the respondent may fail to understand the question; (b) he may cherish no opinion or lack any knowledge on the subject asked about; (c) he may be unable to formulate his opinion or to communicate what he knows; (d) he may be reluctant to reveal his opinion or his knowledge. Methodological analyses suggest that a fact of withholding of an answer by a respondent should be considered as an indication of his attitudes both towards the research problem and towards the research situation. The second problem discussed in the paper is that of the usefulness of group interview as an auxiliary procedure supplementing a questionnaire. The group interview was performed by three research workers with 8 students considered as in a certain sense representative for the students who had answered the questionnaire. The interview took more than three, hours of time. 120 utterances of the interviewed were recorded. The aims of the interview were threefold: (1) to establish common opinions on some problems dealt with in the questionnaire; (2) to establish the meanings of some terms that appeared in answers to questionnaire items as characteristic for the studied group; (3) to establish the respondents’ attitudes towards the situation of the questionnaire survey. The group interview assumed a form of a discussion on those problems. It supplied material that helped to interpret the results related to the problem of lacks of answers in the questionnaire.