(Betty Moore, (2001), “Telephone Surveys”, in Schuh and Upcraft, Assessment           Practice in Student Affairs)


I.                   Advantages and Disadvantages of Telephone Surveys


A.    Advantages


1.      Rapid data collection

2.      Lower cost

3.      Anonymity

4.      Large-scale accessibility

5.      Assurance that instructions are followed


B.     Disadvantages


1.      Less control

2.      Lack of visual materials

3.      Limited potential respondents

4.      Inability to access telephone numbers

5.      Problems with answering machines

6.      Limited complexity of questions

7.      Limited open-ended questions


II.                Steps in the Telephone Interview Process


A.    Step I: Determine If a Telephone Survey Is Appropriate

B.     Step 2: Determine What Information Is Needed


1.      Can valid and reliable information be efficiently collected within the time frame?

2.      A lot of information can be obtained in 7 minutes

C.    Step 3: Design the Interview Protocol


1.      An introduction to the person being telephoned should include the following:

a.       the issue or topic to be explored

b.      the anticipated time necessary to answer the questions

c.       assurance that participation is voluntary and that the participant may choose not to answer specific questions

d.      assurance of confidentiality of responses, including the reporting of aggregate, rather than individual data

e.       description of how the data will be summarized and used

f.       when and where the results may be used

g.      the name of the contact person or office in case of questions


                                 2. Consult with the Institutional Review Board (IRB)


D.    Step 4: Pilot the Interview Protocol


1.      A focus group of 10 students can act as “mock” respondents


E.     Step 5: Select the Interviewers


1.      Represent the diversity on campus in your interviewing team

2.      Provide evening hours, and a central campus location

3.      Meet with candidates to interview them on their communication skills

4.      Emphasize confidentiality and check with the Office of Rights and Responsibilities for a background check


F.     Step 6: Train the Interviewers


1.      Communication skills

2.      Cover the survey process and record-keeping materials

3.      Shadow trained telephone interviewers


G.    Step 7:Decide On and Retrieve Information About the Sample


1.      Draw a random sample from the total population that fits the criteria for the study

2.      Start at the top of the random list and work through it


H.    Step 8: Record with Paper and Pencil or Select a Computer Software Package to Record Data


1.      One popular and useful data recording software is Ci3, by Sawtooth Software, Inc, (

2.      Others are available


I.       Step 9: Develop a Procedure for the Interview Process


J.      Step 10: Merge the Data


K.    Step 11: Analyze the Data


L.     Step 12: Publish and Disseminate a Succinct and Engaging Report


III.             Cutting Costs


A.    Use student volunteers as interviewers

B.     Collaborate with faculty for credit or internships

C.    Assign staff to part of the survey

D.    Use in-house design and statistical consultation

E.     Use available computers and telephones

F.      Use a server-based data entry system to eliminate use of disks


IV.             Some Practical Advice


A.    Be Aware of Campus or Community Special Events

B.     Do Not Make Calls On Saturday

C.    Call Between 6pm and 9pm

D.    Allow Interviewers Breaks

E.     Do No Schedule Surveys For the First or Last Weeks of Classes or During Examination Periods