Data Collection Methods

Data collection involves the systematic gathering and measurement of information on target variables. This information is then used to answer questions and evaluate results. The following are the four data collection methods I used for my program plan: interviews, surveys, focus group, surveys and observations.

Observation refers to both noting and observing behavior in the selected social setting. Field notes are written notes that describe the behavior observed. Photography and direct observation are useful tools for visualizing the community. Local data can be collected using photographs and observations. It is inexpensive and easy to use, it can quickly gather data, and can encourage community input and participation. It can be hard to summarize observations and photographs, and represent the whole community. Focus groups provide a forum for small groups to discuss specific topics and help them gain information about their community. Focus groups can be used when you need it. These discussions allow you to hear from participants about their experiences and opinions. This section outlines the steps needed to set up and conduct focus groups. They offer flexibility and can capture rich, in-depth information. It may prove difficult to recruit busy participants.

Surveys are an effective way to collect information and are used often in community assessments. Surveys consist of questions that are carefully designed to address a specific topic or issue. Surveys are often used for information such as the residents’ health and social well-being. Hand-out Surveys, telephone, interview, and mail surveys are some of the most common methods for collecting information. Open-ended questions are used to collect qualitative information, while directed or forced-choice questions are used for quantitative data. These advantages include the participants’ ability to set their own pace and complete the survey at their own pace. Additionally, staff members collecting the surveys can review the completed surveys to ensure that they are complete. Surveys can be distributed wherever there are people (e.g., in a waiting room at a clinic, high school, health education class or local festival). Interviewers are able to build relationships with respondents, explain the survey questions, and encourage them to answer the questions. It is possible to ask more difficult questions or get more detailed answers. You have to be more specific about the sampling size and make contact with respondents. Face-to-face surveys are time-consuming and costly.

Interviews with key informants consist of qualitative in-depth conversations with people who understand the community. Key informant interviews are used to gather information from people who have firsthand knowledge of the community, such as community leaders, professionals and residents. With their unique knowledge and understanding of the community, these experts can offer insight into the nature and potential solutions. Telephone and face-to-face are the most common methods used to interview key informants.

These benefits include detailed data and rich data that can be gathered quickly and cheaply. Interviewers can establish rapport with respondents and clarify questions. They can also build or strengthen relationships and connections with key community stakeholders and informants. This can help raise awareness and interest in an issue. Informants can also be reached to clarify any issues. One disadvantage is that informants are difficult. Because they have diverse backgrounds and perspectives, it can be difficult for interviewers and interviewees to reach busy people.

I chose to use the following data collection method: (use article to support my decision for this data collection method). This data collection approach is my plan.


  • davidwong

    David Wong is a 29-year-old educator and blogger who focuses on helping students learn in creative and interesting ways. He has a background in teaching and has been blogging since 2006. David's work has been featured on a variety of websites, including Lifehack, Dumb Little Man, and The Huffington Post.