Designing surveys and analyzing quantitative data

Designing surveys and analyzing quantitative data

Module description Advanced Research Skills (old curriculum)
Year 2014-2015

This is the manual for Advanced Research Skills. This manual provides a short introduction to the course, describes the learning objectives and competencies that you will be working on, and gives a description of the assignment, its requirements, and grading criteria.
NOTE: As a student you are expected to have read this manual. Teachers expect students to know its contents. Any additional information or changes to this manual will be communicated through Blackboard and in class.

Course description

Title    Advanced Research Skills
Name    Advanced Research Skills (3 ECTS)
Unit    Advanced Research Skills (weigh 100)
Group    ICM
Program / Year / Semester / Period    ICM / Year 2 / Semester 1 / Periode 2
Competency and level    Analyzing and research at level 2
Connection to other courses in the curriculum    Advanced Research Skills builds on the competencies trained in Introduction to Research Skills. The theory taught in any and all other courses are (potentially) relevant to this course. The skills developed in this module will be required in particular for assignments such as Public Communication, Monitoring and Quest
Course content    The course will teach students about communication research skills specifically: theoretical frameworks in the context of research design, variables, questionnaire design, analyses and writing research reports.
Students will be required to analyze a problem, design their own research instrument, collect data, analyze their findings and produce a final written report.
(resit)    Research report (weight 100%)
Students write a research report in small groups (3 students). The research report requires students to write a theoretical framework, design a questionnaire, analyze quantitative data, and write up findings in APA style report.
Word Count 3000 – 3500 maximum
Group Collaboration    Each week groups will be required to submit an evaluation form in which the contribution of each group member will be assessed. This will be used to monitor the group process and highlight any potential problems in the group at an early stage.
Students who perform unsatisfactorily in the group process will not receive the group grade and will be required to do a resit assignment with under-performing members from other groups.
All evaluations must have been submitted in order to obtain a grade.
Language    All materials are in English
Examination Period    Block 2 (resit Block 3)
Feedback    Students will receive written feedback. This will follow the criteria on the grading form. Students who wish to receive further feedback can make an appointment to see their tutor during office hours.
Literature    Compulsory: Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2011). Research methods for business students. Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux?
Plagiarism     Students are responsible for the work they send in and present as “their own”. As part of this course, attention will be given to APA style reporting. Students are advised to buy the APA Publication Manual. Moreover, students are expected to be familiar with the requirements and rules about plagiarism as described in the OER which can be found on the HHS portal.
Week 1    Introduction to the goals of the module and research problem
Reading    Saunders Chapters 1 & 2
Week 2    Theoretical framework, concepts and variables
Reading    Saunders Chapters 3 & 5
Week 3    Questionnaire design and sampling
Reading    Saunders  Chapters 7 & 11
Week 4    No Class: Data Collection or drop in sessions for groups that require feedback
Week 5    Analyses using Excel
Reading & Preparation    Saunders  Chapters 12 & 14
Week 6    Individual Group Feedback sessions

Advanced research skills: An introduction
People are easily convinced by numbers and research data have taken the place of reputation and authority (Porter, 1996; as mentioned by Van Maanen, 2009). As a communication professional, understanding numbers, and thereby research, is important.
In this course you learn how you can methodically collect data in order to answer one or more research questions.
You will need to think critically about your topic, your information, and your data.
Orientational  desk research is a core element of this course. Through desk research you will find and process literature in order to write an introduction section (your theoretical framework) and design questionnaires.
Normally, research is performed because somebody experiences a problem (or wants to address an (external) change) and searches for a solution .For communication research this implies a problem is either caused by miscommunication or (part of) the solution is better communication. By analyzing the problem, and identifying the role that communication plays in this problem, you formulate a starting question. Only after you have searched for information on the topic (theory) can you reformulate this question into a steering research question.
Desk Research
So, an important part of this course is this orientational search for information. A lot of information about communication problems and solutions is readily available in books, journals and on the Internet. Orientational desk research is useful to find general background information that are required to understand the problem – this information will answer questions such as: What is Internal Communication? What is Image? What is Reputation? Etc. Other researchers have already answered these questions and you can use that information to (1) avoid researching something that everybody already knows, (2) create a framework for your research, and (3) learn more about your subject. Moreover, if other researchers have also used questionnaires – you may want to adapt and use their instruments for your own research.
Some answers you cannot find in literature. And to find those answers you need to do field research – to go outside and look for yourself. Questionnaires are suitable instruments to collect data and try to find those answers. The word questionnaire refers to the method of data collection – a large number of people responding to the same set of questions, and is most often used in survey research designs. In this course you will design your own questionnaire.

Assignment: write a research report
Iyou will perform a survey study and write a research report. The research will be about student motivation to choose a specific field of study and university with a focus on communication effects (advertising etc.)in In-Holland University.
?    You will do research on “students’ reasons to choose a university (In-Holland university located in The Hague, Holland) and a specific field of study, focusing on the influence communication has had on this decision”

The purpose of the assignment is to learn how to write a good introduction section (linking theory and practice embedding the selected communication problem), design a questionnaire based on this theoretical framework, collect data using a questionnaire, analyze quantitative data, and write a research report.
The course prepares you for later research (e.g., for your thesis) as well as later work (e.g., how to interpret research data presented by other for advice purposes).
Research process
?    Identifying a problem or change
?    Analyze the situation (and read up on what is already known about it)
?    Formulating a starting question
?    Literature study
?    Finalizing a research question
?    Selection of method
?    Data collection
?    Data analysis
?    Drawing conclusions
?    New questions

Assignment requirements

The word count for the final report is: 3000 (3500 maximum)
Assignments over 3500 will be returned for editing before grading.
The contents of the report:
Abstract/Executive Summary (as taught by the English Department; does not count for the word count)
Will be graded by the English Department
Introduction (approximately 40% of the word count)
Contains problem identification, communication context (specify what kind of communication problem it is, etc.), definition of key concepts, identification and specification of relationships between these concepts (e.g., conceptual model).
Research Questions
Main question
?    The focus of the whole project
Encompasses all/most key terms and described the relationship between those terms (as well as with the stakeholders)
Sub questions
?    One question per key term of the main topic
But no questions that have already been answered in the introduction (e.g. most definitions for example)
?    One question per relation between key terms
The sub questions should not introduce new elements
Then you may need to revise the main question
And as a check:
When these questions are answered, the main question is answered as well

Methods (approximately 20% of the word count)
Should at least clearly state population (intended group to research) and sample (method of sampling and description and number of actual respondents), procedure (how did you collect your data), and measures (variables descriptions).
Results (approximately 20% of the word count)
Should include, the descriptive analyses and at least four higher level analyses highlighting different relations between variables.
Conclusion and discussion (approximately 20% of the word count)
Should be a critical reflection on the results in accordance with the used theory. Relationships between findings should be discussed. Limitations of the study should be discussed. Suggestions for future research should be provided.
References (does not add to the total word count)
•    Questionnaire
•    Pilot questionnaire and reflection
•    Group collaboration contract
•    CD-ROM with excel files containing data, code book, analyses
Should be in APA style and include at least five scientific journal articles.

Grading criteria

Student Names:

Date :
Resit: Yes/No
Final Grade:

Criteria to be met before assignment will be graded**:

CD ROM/USB stick containing code book, pivot tables and research data?            YES/NO
Appendix containing pilot questionnaire, reflection on pilot, and final questionnaire?         YES/NO
Annotated Bibliography containing list of references?                         YES/NO
Is APA and in text referencing applied?                                 YES/NO

** Assignments that do not meet the above criteria will not be graded. These will need to be improved before being resubmitted as a resit.

Item 1: Title and Introduction
Ability to articulate and explain the topic    0
Done    1

Poor    2
Needs Attention    3
Satisfactory    4
Good    5
Are all concepts and relations captured in one title – is the title informative?

Is the central issue of concern clearly identified?
Is the importance/relevance of this research supported by an analysis of the problem context and the role that communication plays in this?
Are the research objectives and questions clearly specified?
Are the questions clearly related to both the problem description and the theoretical framework?
Item 2: Literature Review

Is most of the literature that is reviewed current? (<5 years old)
Does the literature review narrow down to identify key ideas and concepts that are relevant to the research question?
Are ideas linked in a way that is logical to the reader?
Does the writer demonstrate a grasp of the theory and its implications for this problem and/or research?
Item 4: Methods

Participants: Have the sample and sampling methods been clearly described
Approach: Is the design mentioned or described
Is the research procedure accurately described?
Are relevant variables identified based on concepts discussed in the literature review?
Is the method of the research consistent with the theoretical framework & is it a good fit with the research question?
Item 5: Findings
Are descriptive statistics presented clearly and consistently?
Are relationships between different variables explored?
As a whole: Are results presented clearly and consistently? (e.g., use of text, tables and graphs)
Item 6: Discussion and Conclusions
Are conclusions supported by the evidence presented?
Do conclusions address the research questions?
Is the discussion and analysis objective and balanced?
Does the discussion refer back to points raised in the literature review?
Item 5: Language and Structure
Does the work demonstrate command of English grammar with proper use of  verbs and agreements, tenses, prepositions etc
Are syntax and sentence structures clear and correct?
Is there a clear storyline, supported by headings, subheadings?
Is argumentation clear and coherent?
Total points out of possible  120

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