Supporting and motivating field staff on low-income studies can differ markedly from the traditional methods used on a national study with a mixed sample. Assigning strong, experienced supervisors with field interviewing expertise is key to achieving high response rates. Interviewers need continual support, brainstorming opportunities, motivation, locating assistance, and morale boosting from involved and caring supervisors. Supervisors must:
- Communicate by phone with interviewers no less than twice a week, or more often if indicated.
- Discuss numbers, projections, costs, and disposition codes for cases during one call, and have a completely separate call for problem solving. The second call is for question-and-answer periods and problem solving, uninterrupted by the administrative process.
- Offer to do locating through central office or Internet sources or to help convert refusals. Managers sometimes can do phone interviews for interviewers on projects that allow it.
- Pair up new interviewers or ones hesitant to interview during late hours with experienced interviewers or escorts. (For example, traveling interpreters worked with interviewers who needed to interview Chinese, Vietnamese, and other ethnic groups on the recent Media Use Study.)
- Readily transfer cases around once the interviewers have established a work pattern. Supervisors must be quick to recognize procrastinators and replace them with more effective interviewers. This also helps to motivate less productive persons to improve and increase their efforts. Some interviewers prove to be more effective on the telephone than in person, so flexibility is key.
Supervisors also should be adept at refusal aversion, refusal conversion, and locating in order to help interviewers strategize effectively.
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