Adventures in Research: Issue 5

Did you know that the groundhog correctly predicts the arrival of spring only 40% of the time? Did you also know that this rate of prediction is worse than chance (50%)?

These are the things that statisticians get fired up about!

Regardless of Punxsutawney Phil’s incompetence as a meteorologist, we’re always happy when spring officially arrives on the calendar. It’s another fresh start for all of us, which brings us to a pressing question: How’d all your New Year resolutions turn out, specifically the ones about tackling intriguing research questions or getting serious about a formal program evaluation?

Did you get off track somewhere between football playoffs and school vacation week? If yes, we can help. Get in touch and let us guide you and your research back on track.

In the meantime, the nuggets below can serve as inspiration.

Boosting Survey Participation with 3 Simple Sentences

Did you finally design your dream survey, only to struggle with dismal response rates and non-completion? We promise it’s not your fault! People are OVERRUN with surveys. All those marketing surveys clogging up email inboxes hurt response rates and data quality for research and evaluation teams.

When we ask a participant to complete a survey, we always include three key pieces of information. This strategy has helped us increase response and survey completion rates.

Here’s what we say:

  • This survey will take you XX-XX minutes. (With the maximum length never to exceed 10 minutes)
  • Your feedback is invaluable and will help us to X, Y, and Z.
  • Your responses are 100% confidential. (It’s even better if you can say the responses are anonymous, but that depends on the nature of the study.)

What about those pesky non-responders?

OK, you sent out your survey, you included the three sentences we listed above, and you got about a 50% response rate. Not bad, but you’re aching to increase that sample size. How many reminders should you send before you become downright annoying?

We researchers love to say, “It depends” (and it truly does), but our rule of thumb is to send one initial prompt plus two reminder prompts.

We see the highest response rate to the first and last prompts. When we’ve experimented with sending more than three prompts, we mostly get grumpy participants who start sending our emails to their SPAM folders.

What We’re Geeking Out About . . .

We recently read an article titled “Students say their New York school’s cellphone ban helped improve their mental health.” The article discusses how young people anecdotally reported feeling less depressed and less anxious after their school implemented a cellphone ban.

And, of course, we couldn’t help but think, “We smell some research coming on!”

Exploring the effects of cellphone use during adolescence is a particular favorite research topic of ours (we’ve been lucky enough to work with Linda Charmaraman on some of her pivotal work in this area). Elevating young people’s voices by listening to what they say works for them is one of our favorite ways to start a research project.

So, if you or a colleague is looking for methodological or statistical support for federal or foundation-funded research exploring the relationship between cellphone use and adolescent wellbeing, LET’S TALK.

Client Spotlight

It’s hard to pick just one client each quarter to spotlight, but this time, we’ve got to give a virtual high five to Dr. Jennifer M. Grossman from the Wellesley Centers for Women. She was one of our first clients when we started LRA in 2015, and we’re grateful she’s not sick of us yet.

We’re thrilled to be working with her on an evaluation of a sex education curriculum for high school students. The study was funded by a grant from the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Announcements, Redux…

In case you missed some of our recent announcements, here’s a recap…

What’s Next For Us

We still have a few openings for organizations interested in conducting evaluations of their youth programming or curriculum this year. (And, of course, it’s never too early to start planning for 2025!)

Let’s talk about how we can collaborate. Email us or pick a time on our calendar that’s convenient for you:

Have a great spring, and we’ll see you in June!

The Team at Lynch Research Associates