Dr. Stephen Frank began the survey in 1980 conducting several omnibus surveys a year of central Minnesota adults in conjunction with his Political Science classes. Presently, the omnibus surveys continue, but have shifted to a primary statewide focus. These statewide surveys are conducted once a year in the fall and focus on statewide issues such as election races, current events, and other important issues that are present in the state of Minnesota. Besides the annual fall survey, the SCSU Survey conducts an annual spring survey of SCSU students on various issues such as campus safety, alcohol and drug use, and race relations. Lastly, the SCSU Survey conducts contract surveys for various public and private sector clients. The Survey provides a useful service for the people and institutions of the State of Minnesota by furnishing valid data of the opinions, behaviors, and characteristics of adult Minnesotans.
The primary mission of the SCSU Survey is to serve the academic community and various clients through its commitment to high quality survey research and to provide education and experiential opportunities to researchers and students. We strive to assure that all SCSU students and faculty directors contribute to the research process, as all are essential in making a research project successful. This success is measured by our ability to obtain high quality survey data that is timely, accurate, and reliable while maintaining an environment that promotes the professional and personal growth of each staff member. The survey procedures used by the SCSU Survey adhere to the highest quality of academic standards. The SCSU Survey maintains the highest ethical standards in its procedures and methods. Both faculty and student directors demonstrate integrity and respect for dignity in all interactions with colleagues, clients, researchers, and survey participants.
The SCSU Survey is licensed to use Sawtooth Software’s Ci3 Questionnaire Authoring Version 4.1, a state-of-the-art Microsoft Windows 2000-based computer-assisted interviewing package. This program allows us to develop virtually any type of questionnaire while at the same time programming edit and consistency checks and other quality control measures to insure the most valid data. Interviewing with Ci3 offers many advantages:
- Complete control of what the interviewer sees;
- Automatic skip or branch patterns based on previous answers, combinations of answers, or even mathematical computations performed on answers;
- Randomization of response categories or question order; and,
- Customized questionnaires using respondents’ previous responses
The SCSU Survey has strict guidelines and procedures for sample management during data collection. To assist in this effort, the SCSU Survey uses a state-of-the-art Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) system - Sawtooth Software’s Ci3 WinCATI. The benefits of Ci3 WinCATI are many.
- All interview stations are networked for complete, ongoing sample management.
- Data is updated immediately, ensuring maximum data integrity and allowing clients to get progress reports anytime. Data is reviewed for quality and consistency.
- Answers are entered directly into the computer. Keypunching is eliminated, thus decreasing human error. Data analysis can start immediately.
- The computer handles call record keeping automatically, allowing interviewers and supervisors to focus on the interviewing task.
- Callbacks are handled by the computer and made on a schedule. We call each number up to ten times. Interrupted surveys are easily completed. Persons who are willing to be interviewed can do so when it is convenient to them, improving the quality of their responses.
- Calls are made at various times during the week (Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 9:30) and on weekends (Sunday, 1:00 to 9:00) to maximize contacts and ensure equal opportunities to respond among various demographic groups.
- CATI maintains full and detailed records, including the number of attempts made to each number and the disposition of each attempt.
- CATI allows daily analysis of completed interviews and almost immediate downloading of data once interviewing is finished.
As noted above the Survey will be incorporating Integrated CATI/Web Interviewing with WinCati 4.2 Mixed Mode.
For surveys that require random selection of respondents, the SCSU Survey purchases samples from Survey Sampling, Inc. of Fairfield, Connecticut. Survey Sampling is a particularly efficient sample production company. They generate a sample that is of very high quality because they:
- construct a comprehensive database of all telephone working blocks which actually represent residential telephones;
- obtain, update and cross check working block information from the local (Qwest) telephone company;
- confirm the estimated number of residential telephones with each working block, excluding sparsely populated working blocks (industry standard is to exclude those blocks with less than three known working residential telephones out of the 100 possible numbers);
- assign working blocks known to contain residential telephones to geographic areas bases on zip code and most recent updates of census data;
- mark each working block for demographic targeting;
- check each random digit dialed number against a list of known business telephone numbers and generate new numbers as necessary; and,
- arrange the ending sample in a random order to eliminate potential calling order bias.
In addition to the SCSU Survey directors/principal investigators, approximately six senior SCSU students serve the Survey as student directors. Although most student directors are political science majors, others come from many different departments across campus. Student directors work closely with Drs. Frank, Wagner, Kukoleca Hammes, Robinson and Zerbib to write questionnaires, design samples, pretest questionnaires, train interviewers and one or two supervise the actual interviewing. Student directors may earn independent study credit and often earn income supervising interviewing or conducting interviews. Each year, following the annual spring student survey, the student directors participate in the University Student Research Colloquium and conduct a press conference of their findings. In addition to learning survey research skills, student directors enhance their leadership and supervisory skills. Most student directors attend graduate or law school upon graduation or teach. Some have found careers in private market research firms. The SCSU Survey faculty argues the student directors are among the best in social science, humanities, social science education majors on the SCSU campus.