ERIC Number: ED416248
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Jun
Reference Count: N/A
Improving the Mail Return Rates of SASS Surveys: A Review of the Literature. Working Paper Series.
Cole, Cornette; Palmer, Randall; Schwanz, Dennis
This paper presents results of a review of mail survey response literature and provides recommendations for the application of some response-enhancing techniques to the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) of the National Center for Education Statistics. The SASS is an integrated set of surveys sponsored by the NCES and conducted by the Bureau of the Census to provide data on teachers, students, administrators, librarians, and libraries in public and private schools. The SASS uses mail questionnaires as its primary method of data collection, but in the most recent survey, only between 25% and 75% of surveys have been returned. It would not have been wise to produce SASS estimates based on the responses from mail surveys alone. After telephone interviews and a few face-to-face interviews, the response rate rose to between 80% and 100%, but obviously costs would be much reduced with better mail responses. A review of the literature indicates that response rate enhancement techniques have been grouped into the following general categories: (1) motivating a response; (2) content and appearance of correspondence; (3) postage supplied; and (4) attitudinal and behavioral modifications (not discussed in this report). Research indicates that multiple contacts are the most effective way to increase response rates, and that the SASS already includes most multiple contact techniques, with the exception of the use of special postage. Use of a fifth mail contact with two-day priority delivery is recommended. Another successful technique has been the inclusion of monetary incentives, a technique that does not seem appropriate for the SASS. The use of nonmonetary incentives, such as thank-you cards, is recommended. Making the questionnaires briefer and easier to complete is among additional recommendations. (Contains 7 tables and 24 references.) (SLD)
Descriptors: Costs, Data Collection, Elementary Secondary Education, Incentives, Literature Reviews, Mail Surveys, Questionnaires, Research Design, Research Methodology, Response Rates (Questionnaires), Tables (Data)
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics, 555 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Room 400, Washington, DC 20208-5654.
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Bureau of the Census (DOC), Suitland, MD.; National Center for Education Statistics (ED), Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Schools and Staffing Survey (NCES)