Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Traveling Interviewers

06/01/2002

Supplementing local interviewers with a team of highly experienced traveling interviewers is a strategy that has been successful and cost effective on these studies. This is especially true when the sample is clustered and therefore requires a large number of newly hired interviewers. It is also particularly valuable if the data collection period is very short. On the Seattle Study, several experienced travelers came in at the start of the data collection period. When some of them had to leave, others came in to assume their assignments. Throughout the data collection period, the local field staff worked together with the travelers. NORC experience shows that seasoned travelers can focus on weak data collection areas and apply their proven skills in locating, refusal conversion, and strong production. They also help to motivate and train local interviewers, providing role models of success for new interviewers to emulate. This modeling is especially important when the number of refusals from respondents grows during the field period. Experienced interviewers can describe and/or demonstrate (in the field and/or in role plays) how they prepare for and approach respondents who have refused at least once. They help the less experienced interviewers to move beyond experiencing refusals as personal attacks and turn the focus back onto the importance of the study, the production goals, and how to use the information obtained and recorded in the call notes for each case. Successful interviewers see each problem case as a personal challenge and help convey that state of mind to less experienced interviewers.

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