The purpose of this study was to explore issues arising from the proliferation in use of electronic survey methods in higher education. Specifically, it examined whether response rates differed between surveys administered utilizing traditional, mailed, paper-and-pencil instruments and surveys administered utilizing electronic mail (e-mail) and the World Wide Web. A case study approach provided a two-tiered analysis that included intra-institutional and inter-institutional findings. The mailed survey began by sending informational letters to all graduating seniors in the spring semester, then sending a copy of a survey 2 weeks later. Reminders were sent through the mail. The Web survey used an e-mail message to notify the entire freshman and sophomore class of an upcoming survey, then another e-mail to provide the Web address of the survey. Reminders were sent via e-mail. Data analysis indicated that regardless of the survey method used, women responded at greater rates than did men and underrepresented minority students responded at lower rates than did whites, Asian Americans, and international students. The response rate was substantially higher for the mail survey than for the Web survey. (Contains 29 references.) (SM)
Paper presented at the Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research (40th, Cincinnati, OH, May 21-24, 2000).