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A Comparison Of Electronic Surveying By E Mail And Web

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.16.1 - 6.16.7



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Miller

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Rodney Allen

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Richard M. Felder

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Catherine E. Brawner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

A Comparison of Electronic Surveying by E-mail and Web

Catherine E. Brawner, Richard M. Felder, Rodney H. Allen, Rebecca Brent, and Thomas K. Miller Research Triangle Educational Consultants/ COMP-AID/North Carolina State University


In recent years the scholarship of teaching has gained increasing recognition in engineering education as a legitimate and valuable faculty activity. Growing numbers of faculty members engaged in educational research have been using surveys as principal components of their assessment programs. These researchers quickly discover that using individual interviews or paper forms to get responses is extremely time-consuming and often prohibitively expensive, and they turn instead to electronic surveys. The two main vehicles for such surveys are e-mail and World Wide Web-based forms. Web surveys are attractive since they allow for automatic tabulation and analysis of responses, but there is a concern that the additional effort they require of respondents could lead to a severe reduction in response rate.

The study to be reported was designed to examine the legitimacy of that concern. Engineering professors at two SUCCEED (Southeastern University and College Coalition for Engineering EDucation) campuses were surveyed regarding their use of various teaching techniques and their perceptions of the importance of teaching quality and innovation to their colleagues and administrators. The 361 faculty members surveyed were randomly assigned to fill out identical surveys using either the Web or e-mail. Those who were asked to respond via e-mail were much more likely to return the survey (29% vs. 16%), and full professors in particular were extremely unlikely to use the Web. There were few significant differences in the responses based on the survey method. Possible explanations of these results are proposed and their implications for survey research are explored.

I. Introduction

With the advent of the widespread use of the Internet has come the ability to field surveys to many people at relatively low cost compared with the cost of fielding paper versions of the same survey to the same population. Electronic surveys can be sent to many people for little marginal cost and data entry can be automated to save time and eliminate errors. The two methods of using the Internet as a survey mechanism are electronic mail (e-mail) and the World Wide Web (the Web). With e-mail, researchers can send surveys to an e-mail address as text messages, which the recipient can then read, save, respond to, or throw away, much like a paper survey. Surveys can also be posted on the Web and may include text, pictures, and forms to be filled in by the respondent.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society of Engineering Education

Miller, T., & Allen, R., & Felder, R. M., & Brawner, C. E. (2001, June), A Comparison Of Electronic Surveying By E Mail And Web Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9015

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