Getting Your Data: Surveys

Activity: 3.1 Survey Administration Training

Purpose of Activity:

To make participants familiar with the survey instrument being used for your research project and to train surveyors on how to conduct the surveys.

By the end of Activity Participants will:

  • Understand how the survey fits in to the larger campaign
  • Be familiar with research terms related to surveying
  • Be familiar with the Survey instrument
  • Understand all the key terms in the survey
  • Understand who should be targeted to take the survey

 

Before this Activity Participants Will Need to:

Have finalized the survey instrument

Materials Needed:

Paper

Writing Utensils

Copies of the final survey (see Tool 3.1 for sample template)

Copies of rap for your survey outreach (see Tool 3.2 for sample)

List of “Key Terms” in your survey (see Tool 3.3)

Key Terms

Survey

Sample

Respondent

Rap


Intended Audience:

Community members that will be conducting surveys

Time Needed:

2.5 hours

Part I: “Why are we doing this survey?” (15 minutes)

Facilitator Instructions:

  1. Ask a volunteer who’s been consistently involved in the research project to describe the research project and how it fits into your organizing campaign.
  2. Introduce how the survey fits into your research project.
  3. Popcorn questions about how the survey is connected to organizing.

Part II: “Who are we targeting?” (15 minutes)

  1. Review the terms “sample” and “respondent” with members.
  2. Review the sample group you are targeting and get specific. What is the background of the core group that you are targeting? Why are we targeting this particular group of people?  How do we know they have the information we need to collect? Discuss any issues that arise.
  3. Discuss who you are NOT targeting and how to make sure you are surveying the right people.
  4. Discuss what to do if surveyors approach someone that is not eligible for the survey.  How do you make sure to still try to connect these people to your organizing work?

Part III: How To Approach People to Survey (20 minutes)

  1. Handout copies of “the Rap” you have created for your surveyors.
  2. Explain what a rap is: a script that you use to approach potential survey respondents.  The rap should introduce yourself, your organization and why you are doing the survey. Read it through once as a group and answer any questions.
  3. Have participants role play the rap in partners
  4. Debrief
  5. Discuss any issues that need special attention in doing outreach for the survey (confidentiality, discussing sensitive issues, etc.)

Part IV: Getting Familiar with the Survey (40 minutes)

  1. Before the meeting, prepare a list of key terms that show up frequently in the survey that are specific to your campaign.
  2. Give each participant a handout that includes:
    • The list of key terms
    • A copy of the survey
    • The “tips for surveying” handout (see Tool 3.3)
  3. Go over the list of key terms with members, clarify any questions that arise.
  4. Walk through the survey with the group and discuss how to use each part of it.
  5. Next go over the general tips for surveying.


Part V: Test the Survey (45 minutes)

  1. Break out in pairs and survey each other.
  2. Come back to the big group to debrief and discuss the questions that are tricky.
    • Are there any questions that seemed hard to understand or explain?
    • Are there any words that are confusing or hard to read?
    • Are there directions in the survey that are confusing?
  3. Troubleshoot—brainstorm how to address some of the issues that came up.

Part VI: Wrap up check out (10 minutes)

  1. Discuss questions, and concerns that came up throughout the day’s activity.
  2. Discuss next steps in conducting survey outreach.

Tool: 3.2 Sample Rap for Surveying

From Domestic Workers United Study:

Hi, my name is ______________ and I’m with Domestic Workers United.  We are a group of domestic workers including nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers fighting for more rights and better working conditions.   Are you a domestic worker (or nanny, housekeeper or elderly caregiver?)

If No…probe a little to find out what they do and if they are not a domestic worker (hand them literature about DWU and thank them for their time)

If they are a domestic worker SAY…

You may have heard about the recent law that just passed that gives more protections to domestic workers like a day of rest and the right to overtime pay.  Have you heard about it?  (Briefly explain)

We are doing a brief survey today because we think there is more that can be done to make sure that we have more rights and better working conditions.  We are going to write a report based on this survey to educate people about domestic workers and our industry.  Do you have some time to answer a few questions about your work as a domestic worker?  It should just take a few minutes.

Go into survey…

Tool: 3.3 Tips for Conducting Surveys

General Surveying Tips:

  1. Make sure you fill out the information at the top of the survey (your name, site of survey, date, etc.).
  2. Ask questions and give answer options word for word as they are written.
  3. Ask questions in the order they appear in the survey.
  4. Ask every question, unless the directions say to skip it.
  5. Write down responses immediately after they are given.
  6. Clearly mark your answers.


Tips for Using Your Surveys as an Organizing Tool:

Surveying can be a useful tool to strengthen your community organizing and outreach efforts because it enables your organization to meet and discuss with new community members who might be interested in joining your cause. Below are some tips for how to use surveys as an organizing tool.

  1. Make sure you have a clipboard with organizational contact sheets.
  2. After you finish the survey ask the respondent if they’ve heard of your organization and if they’d like to get more involved.
  3. Ask the respondent if they are interested in joining your efforts by becoming a surveyor and surveying others.
  4. Whether or not the person is eligible to take your survey, make sure you get the person’s contact information so you can follow up with them.

Tool: 3.4 Needs Assessment Survey Template

OUR Waterfront- East River Waterfront Survey

Please fill out this survey to help us document community preferences for development of the East River waterfront. This survey is completely voluntary, confidential and anonymous. If you would like to know the results of this survey and be informed of related follow-up activities, please include your contact information. Personal information will be kept separate from survey answers and will be used only  to provide  you with information about East River Waterfront Development and activities that might interest you. Thank you for your time and collaboration!

 

If you would like further information about waterfront development along the East River, please provide us with your contact information:

I am interested in:

‡ Learning more about development along the East River Waterfront

‡ Becoming more involved with OUR Waterfront

 

Note: Contact information will not be associated with any of your survey answers and will be used strictly to provide you with follow up information.

1. What are the most important issues facing Chinatown and the Lower East Side? Please check all that apply:

 Safety and security

 Affordability:

 Housing        Food        Retail        Services

 Pollution and cleanliness

 Displacement

 Policing

 Gentrification

 Homelessness

 Other _________________________ (please specify)

 

2. Do you currently go to the East River         Waterfront?          Yes              No

A. If Yes, what do you do there?

 Recreational activities:____________(please specify)

 Dog walking

 Fishing

 Educational activities

 Other __________________________(please specify)

B. If No, why not ?_________________________

_________________________________________

 

The City of New York has issued a plan to  develop the  two miles along East River Waterfront from  the Battery to East River Park  encompassing  the financial district, the South Street Seaport, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side. The following questions refer to your preferences for development along the new East River Waterfront.

3. What services, activities, and programs do you think should be included on the new East River Waterfront ? Please check all that apply and provide specific examples:

 Recreational activities_________________________

 Educational activities _________________________

 Information services __________________________

 Social services _______________________________

 Arts and cultural space _________________________

 Commercial/retail opportunities__________________

 Employment/ job creation ______________________

 Transportation _______________________________

 Open space __________________________________

 Other _______________________________________

 

4. The city’s current plan includes space for stores and businesses. Do you think there should be businesses and retail shops on the East River Waterfront?

 Yes          No       I Don’t know

If Yes, what types of businesses and retail shops would you prefer to see along the waterfront? Please check all that apply:

Please check all that apply:

Type of       Business:

Provided By:

Price Range of Goods:

 Full service restaurants

 Cafes and coffee shops

 Carts, kiosks, and vendors

 Bars and clubs

 Big box stores, i.e. Home Depot, Target

 Retail

 Entertainment

 Sports and recreation

 None

 Other________ (please specify)

 Local small businesses

 Large national chain stores

 Street vendors

 Other_________ (please specify)

 Free

 Low-cost

 Mid-range

 High-end

 Other__________ (please specify)

 

5. What would be a reasonable amount of money for one person to spend on activities or services at the new East River Waterfront? (i.e. What is “affordable” for one person to pay for activities or services such as kayaking, entertainment, etc.?)

Please check all that apply:

 Free

 Less than $5

 $5-$10

 $10-$15

 $15-$20

 More than $20

 Other______________________ (please specify)

 

6. What are your concerns about development along the East River Waterfront and the impact on the larger community? Please check all that apply:

 Safety and security

 Lack of cultural diversity  in  programming

 Lack of low cost programs services and activities

 Increased displacement

 Lack of community input in what will  happen

 Increased gentrification and luxury development

 Other ______________________(please specify)

 

7. Who should development along the East River Waterfront benefit the most? Please check one response:

 Local community members (residents of the Lower East Side and Chinatown)

 All New York City residents

 Tourists

 Other_____________________ (please specify)

 

Demographic Information

 

Note: This information is strictly confidential and collected only to ensure a diverse survey sample. Your   responses will not be connected to any other questions or personal information.

 

Gender:    M                F             TG/TS

Age:  _________

Zip Code where you live: _________________

 

Race/ Ethnicity:

  Asian

  Latino/Hispanic

  Black/African-American

 White

 Mixed Race: ___________________ (please specify)

 

What is your annual household income level?

 $10,000 or less                $50,001-$60,000

 $10,001-$20,000             $60,001-$70,000

 $20,001-$30,000             more than $70,001

 $30,001-$40,000

 

What is your primary language?

 English

 Spanish

 Chinese

 Other:_________________________(please specify)

 

What is your relationship to the East River Waterfront and the Chinatown and Lower East Side communities? Please check all that apply:

 I live in the area

 I work in the area

 I have a business in the area

 I go to school in the area

 Other_________________________ (please specify)

 

Thank you for your participation in this survey!

 

 

Tool: 3.19 Sample Demographics Survey Questions

Why do we ask demographics questions on surveys?

Demographic data helps us better understand who we have surveyed, and also allows us to look for any patterns in how different communities are impacted by the issue being studied. It also allows us to compare our survey data to other data from existing data sources or baseline data.

Why do we compare demographic and baseline data?

Baseline demographic data is existing data from other sources such as the census.  When you collect demographic data from your survey sample, this information can be compared with baseline data of the larger population. Comparing the demographics from your research to baseline data can allow you to demonstrate you have conducted research with a sample that is similar to the overall population. Background demographic data can also allow you to highlight the ways in which the demographics of your research sample are unique. You may find that your research sample differs from the general population in a way you want to highlight.  In addition, you might intentionally oversample a particular community, such as non-English speakers, if they are the focus of your research. 

What if the questions or answer choices here don’t reflect my community?

You may want to tailor questions and answer choices based on your research topic. For example, if you are conducting a survey about workplace issues, you will want to ask demographic questions related to employment and if you are conducting a survey about housing you will want to ask demographic questions about people’s housing status.

Do demographics questions violate the privacy of respondents?

It is important to make clear to respondents that their responses are confidential. Researchers should be careful not to connect survey responses to identifying information such as names or phone numbers.

How do I make sure respondents are not at risk by answering demographic questions?

Particularly with more vulnerable communities, we should be mindful of the types of questions that we ask, how responses are linked to identifying information, and how data is stored. For example, you may not want to keep the names and addresses of undocumented members in case your data is seized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or any another government entity that gives information to DHS.

Tool: 3.20 Sample Demographics Comparison Chart

 

Why is this tool useful?

Utilizing demographics data sources such as census data helps you describe your community. For example, you could describe what percent of the community overall is low-income, what languages are spoken, household size, etc. Baseline demographic data is existing data from other sources such as the census.  When you collect demographic data from your survey sample, this information can be compared with baseline data of the larger population.

Analyzing your Survey Data:

Comparing the demographics from your research to baseline data can allow you to demonstrate you have conducted research with a sample that is similar to the overall population. Background demographic data can also allow you to highlight the ways in which the demographics of your research sample are unique. You may find that your research sample differs from the general population in a way you want to highlight.  In addition, you might intentionally oversample a particular community, such as non-English speakers, if they are the focus of your research.

Tailoring Questions and Answer Choices for Surveys:

If you are planning to compare your data to another source (such as the American Community Survey  or the Census) look at how that source asks their questions, so you can be sure to have a meaningful comparison (see Tool 3.19).

Demographics Comparison Charts

Pulling all of your survey data and baseline comparison data into a chart is a good way to visualize some of the similarities and differences mentioned above. The chart below was taken from A People’s Budget: A Research and Evaluation Report on Participatory Budgeting in New York City Cycle 3, a report by the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center with the PBNYC Research team. This chart compares the overall demographics of districts participating in the process (taken from the Decennial Census 2010) with the demographics of voters who turned out for PB.

Tool: 3.21 Sample FAQ Sheet for Surveying

 

Why is this tool useful?

When out in the field, it is a good practice for surveyors to keep responses to possible frequently asked questions handy for answering respondents. This sheet is not intended for distribution but as a reference for surveyors. We have included answers to questions that are frequently asked about most surveys, but the questions and answers should be customized for your organization and your survey needs. This is also a good place to define terms that come up in the survey but may not be familiar to the respondent. A best practice is to also define unfamiliar terms as they show up in the survey itself.  (See Tool 3.22 Survey Building Blocks).

Researcher Responses to Common Questions

Review these common questions before conducting your research, and bring this sheet with you for reference.

 

Q: Why are you doing this research?

Researcher Response: You will want to include information about your organization, and what the survey is about. Information about what the data will be used for can also be helpful. Here is a template for a response:

ABC organization works with XYZ communities. We have been talking to the XYZ community who is experiencing DEF issue.  Currently, there is a gap in the research that documents our communities experiences in DEF.  Our plan is to write a report based on the survey research. Eventually we want to work on a campaign to address DEF issue.”

Q:  Who will you share this information with?

Researcher Response: Your name and contact information will not be shared with anyone outside of our organization, where they will be used only to follow up with you to invite you to know your rights trainings, and events related to our ongoing organizing work.  Your answers to the questions, which will not be publically connected to your name, will be used to generate data about the experiences of XYZ community.

Q:  Do I have to answer this question?

Researcher Response: We encourage you to answer every question, since all the information is important for our research. However, if you don’t feel comfortable answering a question, you can feel free to skip it.

Q:  Why do you need to know _________ about me? (Asked about demographic questions like age, education level, etc).   

Researcher Response: It is important for us to know who is impacted by these issues, and these questions help us capture that information and paint that picture. This can be important for our campaign development, organizing and recommendations.  Remember, this information will not be publically connected to your name.

Tool: 3.22 Survey Building Blocks

Why is this tool useful?

This tool outlines some basic building blocks that all surveys should contain. These are surveys that work best when administered interview-style, where a surveyor verbally asks the respondent survey questions and marks down the answers.

I. Surveyor Information for Interview-Style Surveys

This is a section where the surveyor tracks their name, and when and where the survey is completed. This information is helpful to maintain a record of where and when you have conducted surveys, and can also be used to follow up with a surveyor if survey responses are hard to read and you want to ask the surveyor for clarification.  Note: for self-administered surveys you will still want to track the date and site of survey administration but this does not need to be included on the actual survey.

 

SURVEYOR USE ONLY

Surveyor Name: _______________________________________________________________________

Date of Survey: ________________________________________________________________________

Survey Site: ___________________________________________________________________________

II. Introduction to  the Survey

This is where you would insert instructions to the surveyor about how they should introduce the survey. There should be an introduction to your organization and what the survey is about. For example:

“This survey is being conducted by CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities.  CAAAV is a pan-Asian community organization that works to build the power of low-income Asian immigrants and refugees in New York City.   This survey allows us to learn more about the experiences of Asian public housing residents, and will be used to write a report about Asians in public housing, which will include recommended changes for public housing.

III. Confidentiality/Anonymity

You should make clear to respondents whether their responses will be anonymous and/or confidential. This is important especially for vulnerable populations (such as undocumented immigrants, formerly incarcerated individuals, survivors of domestic violence, etc.) who might not feel comfortable answering certain questions if those questions may be tied to identifying information. Below is an example of language you could use:


“This survey is confidential and anonymous. Your name and contact information will not appear anywhere on the survey.  We encourage you to answer every question to the best of your ability. However, if you do not feel comfortable answering a question, feel free to skip it.  Your input is very important”.

IV. Screening Criteria

Sometimes it is best to build in screening questions into your survey. These are questions that make sure that you are targeting your survey sample (See Tool 2.5). For example, the sample in the below survey is Asian tenants living in public housing, and the screening questions reflect this. Also note the instructions to the surveyor for when respondents do not meet the screening criteria:

Screening Questions

READ: First I’m going to ask you a few questions to be sure you are eligible to complete the survey.



1) Do you identify as any of the following?


O Bangladeshi

O Indian

O    Vietnamese

O Chinese

O Korean

O    No, I do not identify as any of the above

O Indo-Caribbean

O Pakistani

O     Other Asian ethnicity: ____________________________________________________________________



2) Do you live in public housing?


O Yes No


V. Survey Instructions

When administering a survey interview-style, it is important to have clear instructions for what the surveyor should read to the respondent, and when they should follow directions that are not supposed to be read aloud. This is an example of some survey instructions, where instructions that the surveyor reads to the respondent is preceded by the word “READ”:

If respondent answered “no” to any of these questions, READ: “Based on your answers, you are not in the target group for our survey, and you do not need to fill out the remainder of the survey.  We thank you for your time.”

Hand respondent information about CAAAV.

a. Skip patterns

These are sets of instructions throughout the survey that detail when surveyors are supposed to move on to a subsequent question or when they should skip a question based on the respondent’s answer. Please also note that skip patterns can also be in self-administered surveys.  This is an example of a set of skip patterns:

10) In the past 3 years, was there a time that you needed a translated version of a public housing document (like a hearing notice or a lease)?


O  Yes

O  No


(If “yes” ask question 11, if “no” skip to question 16)

 

11) Did you ask someone who works for public housing for that document translated in your language?

O Yes                   O  No                    O I didn’t know I could ask public housing for translation

 

(If “yes” ask question 12, if “no” or “I didn’t know” ask question 13)


VI. Survey Questions

We have developed some tips for crafting good survey questions (See tool 3.22). Overall, it is good to start with broad thematic categories of questions that you want to ask, and then come up with questions that fit within those categories. Below are some examples of categories of questions and corresponding survey questions:

Language Access

READ: “I’m going to start with some questions about your language needs and how well NYCHA meets them.”

5) How difficult would it be for you to understand written information from the public housing authority (such as a letter or a lease) in English?

  • Extremely difficult
  • Somewhat difficult
  • Not very difficult
  • Not at all difficult

 


6) How difficult would it be for you to have a conversation about housing matters (such as at a hearing or an interview) in English?

 

  • Extremely difficult
  • Somewhat Difficult
  • Not very difficult
  • Not at all difficult

 

Experiences with Public Housing



26) If English is not your primary language, have you ever decided not to request a repair because you did not think you could talk to someone in your language?

  • Yes
  • No

27) Has the public housing authority completed any repairs in your apartment?

  • Yes
  • No

a. Demographic Questions

Demographic questions help us better understand who we have surveyed, and also allow us to look for any patterns in how different communities are impacted by the issue being studied. It also allows us to compare our survey data to other data from existing data sources or baseline data. It can be tempting to cram many demographics questions into the survey but it is important to keep in mind which demographic data will actually be used in your analysis. We have developed a bank of demographics questions as well as tools for using demographic data. (See Tool 3.19 and Tool 3.21).

VII. Office use only section

This section should be at the bottom of the survey and should not be completed by the surveyor or respondent. The office use section will be used when entering survey responses into a database (See Tool 4.4).


FOR OFFICE USE ONLY (COMPLETED BY PERSON DOING DATA ENTRY)

Survey Number: _______________________________________________________________________

Language of Survey: ____________________________________________________________________

Name of Person Entering Survey: __________________________________________________________


 

Tool: 3.24 Sample Outreach Plan for Surveying

Why is this tool useful?

Once you complete your survey instrument and determine your sample, you should then decide how many surveys you want to collect and where you will do outreach in order to most effectively and efficiently reach your sample and meet your organizing goals. We recommended that you think about this as early as possible in your planning and ideally when you formulate the research plan (See Tool 2.4).

Creating an outreach plan will help to track where surveyors are conducting surveys and how many surveys you are able to collect in each location. This tool can also help track the number of surveys you actually collect from each target site, compared to how many you projected you would collect initially. This will help you to keep organized while also assessing which sites are more effective in reaching your sample. This also can help you to determine if you have enough capacity to meet your goals and to collect the number of surveys that you set out to collect. This is effective when working alone as an organization or in coalitions where each party is responsible for a certain amount of surveys.  You can also organize this by individual surveyor if you want to track and compare the progress of your surveying team. You should customize this outreach plan to your project’s and organization’s needs.

 

For Organizations Tracking Total Surveys by Survey Site:

Survey Site

Address

Zip code

Target Number of Surveys

Actual Surveys Collected

Public Library

100 Main Street

11111

50

45

City Park

110 Main Street

11111

50

65

 

 

Total:

100

110

 

For Coalitions Tracking Total Surveys by Organization:

Organization

Survey Site

Target Number of Surveys

Actual Surveys Collected

Parks Are For All

Public Library

100

85

10th Street Tenants

City Park

50

45

 

Total:

150

130

 

For Surveyors Tracking Number of Surveys Collected:

Surveyor Name: __________________________________________________

Date

Survey Site

Target Number of Surveys

Actual Surveys Collected

1/10/2016

Public Library

25

10

1/10/2016

City Park

25

20

 

Total:

50

30

Tool: 3.26 Crafting Survey Questions

Crafting Survey Questions

Why is this tool useful?

This tool lays out several tips for crafting good survey questions, which is important to get useful data. Before you start crafting survey questions, you will want to first develop your research questions (See Tool 2.1) and research plan (See Tool 2.4). This tool is based on the survey instrument from a PAR project with CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities focused on Asian tenants in public housing (See Case Study 3.9).

Turning Research Questions into Survey Questions

 

A good place to start brainstorming survey questions is to look to the overarching research questions for the project (See Tool 2.1). Looking back at the research questions will help determine which information can be found through a survey.

 

The following steps are recommended to ensure that survey questions relate directly to research questions, and that you collect information that will help to answer your research questions and meet your organizing goals.

1)      Review research questions and identify those that can be best answered through a survey. These are research questions that can be answered with quantitative data (numbers and statistics) rather than qualitative data (stories and experiences).

2)      Brainstorm thematic categories that relate to each of the research questions.  These categories provide a guide for developing the actual survey questions, and ensure that the questions you brainstorm remain tied to research priorities.

3)      Within each category, develop specific survey questions. These questions should relate directly to the category, since those are your priority areas.  If you have questions that don’t relate to a priority category, you may want to consider cutting them.

The following are examples of research questions from the CAAAV project mentioned above:

  • What existing data is there about Asian residents in public housing?
  • What are existing public housing policies that impact Asian residents?
  • What are the biggest issues and needs facing Asian public housing residents?
  • What are the conditions in units?
  • What is the experience of Asian residents with public housing staff? With public housing management? With maintenance and repairs process?
  • What is the experience of Asian residents in applying for public housing?
  • What works, what doesn’t work and what is missing in terms of language access policies and procedures for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) public housing residents?

 

The questions in bolded text can best be answered by a survey.  After this step, identify broad categories of questions that shape the layout of the survey questions:

 

 

Research Question

Category of survey questions

What are the conditions in units?

Repairs and Maintenance

What is the experience of Asian residents with public housing staff? With public housing management? With maintenance and repairs process?

Repairs and Maintenance

What works, what doesn’t work and what is missing in terms of language access policies and procedures for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) public housing residents?

Language Access

What existing data is there about Asian residents in public housing?

Demographics

 

Tips for Crafting Good Survey Questions

 

We have developed some tips for developing good survey questions:

 

  • Avoid vague questions. It is best to leave little to the respondent’s interpretation. For example, you might want to ask a question such as “Do you work out regularly? However, people can interpret the word regularly in different ways (as well as often, frequently, and sometimes), so it is best to quantify as much as possible. So a better question in this case is “How many days per month do you work out?”

 

  • Limit time periods when asking questions about the past. We do this to avoid memory bias.  
    • Ex: Have you received overtime pay?
    • Rather: In the past 3 months, did you receive overtime pay?

 

  • Where possible, define unfamiliar terms that appear in questions/answers within the survey.

 

  • Avoid leading questions that assume how a respondent might feel about a certain issue. For example, asking How short was Napoleon,” is leading because it assumes that the respondent thinks that Napoleon was short. A better question is, What would you estimate Napoleon’s height to be?”

 

  • Avoid asking “double barreled” questions, which ask two questions at once. An example of this is “What is the most affordable and appealing in this list of products?” Something that is the most affordable might not be the most appealing! A better approach is to ask two separate questions:
    • What is the most affordable in this list of products?
    • What is the most appealing in this list of products?

 

Tips for Developing Answer Choices

 

We’ve also put together some tips for crafting good answer choices for multiple choice questions.

  • When asking “yes/no” questions, also offer “I don’t know” as an option where appropriate
  • “Other” option choice should ask respondents to  “please specify”
  • When applicable, specify if respondents should select only one answer choice or can select all answer choices that apply
  • Opt for ranges/check boxes over write-ins whenever possible. It is also a good idea to pull ranges from other sources of data such as the census whenever possible. For example, if you are asking for household yearly income, income ranges from the census are good answer choices (See Tool 3.20).
  • Be sure that answer option categories don’t overlap. For example:

 

The below answer choices overlap. If you work 5 hours per week, both the first or second answer choice will work!

These are clear options that don’t leave room for ambiguity.

On average, how many hours do you work per week?

q  5 hours or less

q  5 to 10 hours

q  10 to 15 hours

q  15 to 20 hours

q  20 to 30 hours

q  30 to 40 hours

q  40 or more hours

On average, how many hours do you work per week?

q  Less than 5 hours

q  5 to 10 hours

q  11 to 15 hours

q  16 to 20 hours

q  21 to 30 hours

q  31 to 40 hours

q  More than 40 hours

Pulling Survey Questions Together

 

After identifying the categories, it is time to craft survey questions. As you develop the survey, it can be helpful to look to other similar surveys for questions you can use. See Tool 3.22 on building the survey instrument itself.

 

Below are some examples of the survey questions that this organization used:

 

Language Access

5) How difficult would it be for you to understand written information from public housing staff (such as a letter or a lease) in English?

q Extremely difficult

q Somewhat difficult

q Not very difficult

q Not at all difficult

 

6) How difficult would it be for you to have a conversation about housing matters (such as at a hearing or an interview) in English?

q Extremely difficult

q Somewhat difficult

q Not very difficult

q Not at all difficult

 

Experiences in public housing

27) Do you have any of the following conditions in your apartment? (Mark all that apply)

q Leaks

q Mold

q Peeling paint/ cracked walls

q Mice/Roaches/Bed bugs

q No heat

q Building is not cleaned

q No hot water

q Other needed repairs

 

28) Were you satisfied with the quality of public housing staff’s repairs?

q Yes

q No

 

Case Study: 3.1 Domestic Workers United and CDP's Report: Domestic Workers and Collective Bargaining

Method Used: Survey

Background on Organization and Issue

Since 2000, Domestic Workers United (DWU), a community-based organization of 4000 nannies, housekeepers, and elder caregivers, has organized for power and fair labor standards, building a movement for change.  In 2010, DWU’s efforts culminated in a historic victory: New York became the first state in the nation to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

This new law represents a momentous advance for New York’s 200,000 domestic workers who have historically been excluded from state and federal labor laws.  These workers will now be protected by new, basic labor standards.  Despite these gains, the final version of the law did not include five critical benefits: paid sick days; paid personal days; paid vacation days; advance notice of termination; and severance pay.

Instead of passing these five benefits into law, the New York State Legislature commissioned the NYS Department of Labor (DOL) to complete a study on the feasibility of domestic workers’ collectively bargaining for these benefits.  As domestic workers are currently excluded from collective-bargaining laws, DWU wanted to document the need for the inclusion of domestic workers in collective bargaining laws and explore which models of collective bargaining would function best in this industry.  DWU partnered with the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project to conduct this research.

Below is a description of the DWU Collective Bargaining Research Project, based on the Participatory Action Research guiding framework (see Tool 2.1 and 2.2).

WHAT….

Were the Organizing Goals connected to this research?

  • To increase workplace standards for domestic workers.
  • To secure paid sick, vacation, personal days and notice of termination and severance pay for domestic workers.
  • To end the exclusion of domestic workers from the State Labor Relations Act, the law that governs collective bargaining.
  • To build the power of domestic workers.


Overall questions did DWU want to answer through their research?

  • What benefits are domestic workers in NYC receiving from their employers?
  • How do domestic workers fare in negotiating with their employers to secure benefits?
  • What challenges do domestic workers face when attempting to negotiate the terms of their employment?
  • Which models of collective bargaining would enable domestic workers to gain additional workplace rights and benefits?
  • What are the particular challenges domestic workers will face in collective bargaining?


Information did DWU need to collect to answer these research questions?

  • The types and amounts of benefits that domestic workers currently receive.
  • The number or percentage of domestic workers in NYC that currently have the benefits that were excluded from the Bill of Rights.
  • The types of agreements domestic workers have with their employers.
  • Stories from domestic workers about how they negotiate with their employers to secure benefits.
  • Stories from employers about how they negotiate with their domestic workers to set terms of employment.
  • Models of collective bargaining in other industries that could work for privately employed domestic workers.


WHY….

Is this research useful or important for DWU?

  • Internally: The research was used to educate DWU members about collective bargaining and to strengthen DWU’s base building and leadership development efforts.  It also gave domestic workers and employers the opportunity to tell their stories.
  • Externally: It was used to influence the Department of Labor’s feasibility study and to educate other elected officials and policy makers about collective bargaining for domestic workers.  It was also used to collect new data about the industry.


WHO…

Are the Stakeholders in this Issue?

The stakeholders included the 200,000 domestic workers in the U.S. and millions more across the country; the employers of domestic workers; and other low-wage and excluded workers that could benefit from the gains made by domestic workers.

Is DWU trying to influence?

The New York State Legislature; the NYS Department of Labor, the NYS Governor.


HOW…

Did DWU gather information (what methods did they use)?

DWU decided that they wanted hard numbers to make the case to the DOL and legislature that domestic workers were in need of collective standards.  DWU members conducted 500 surveys with domestic workers in order to collect information about the types and levels of benefits domestic workers receive and to document the ability of domestic workers to negotiate with their employers for benefits.  DWU also conducted a few in depth interviews with workers and employers in order to have some additional stories that could support and flesh out the survey data.

How Research Supported DWU’s Organizing Efforts

The report was released and submitted to the Department of Labor the week prior to the DOL’s deadline to complete their feasibility study.  DWU and CDP held a policy briefing to release the report where domestic workers, employers, elected officials and allies presented on the research findings and DWU’s recommendations.  When the DOL released its feasibility study and presented it to the NYS legislature, it included many of DWU’s recommendations, and concluded that Domestic Workers should be included in the right to collectively bargaining.

Click here to read the report.

Case Study: 3.6 New Settlement's Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) Report: Tipping the Scales in Bronx Housing Court

Background on Organization and Issue

Every day, about 2,000 tenants go through the doors of Bronx Housing Court. Few tenants understand the Housing Court process and even fewer (less than 10%) have legal representation to help them navigate it. Since more than 98% of landlords are represented by lawyers, this creates an uneven playing field. Not surprisingly, Bronx Housing Court issues about 40,000 warrants of eviction each year, the most of any borough. In response, New Settlement Apartments’ Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) launched a campaign to reform Housing Court to make it easier for tenants to navigate. CASA is made up of community members who work together to improve the living conditions in the neighborhood and maintain affordable housing through collective action.

Below is a description of the CASA Housing Court Reform Research Project, based on the Participatory Action Research guiding framework (see Tools 2.1 and 2.2).

WHAT…

Were the Organizing Goals connected to this research?

  • To document the experiences of tenants in Bronx Housing Court and the challenges they face.
  • To evaluate judges in Bronx Housing Court.
  • To develop skills and leadership of members.
  • To build the base of members in our organization.
  • To educate Housing Court personnel and elected officials about the challenges tenants face in Housing Court.
  • To develop recommendations to make Housing Court a place for tenants to access justice.

Overall questions did CASA want to answer through their research?

  • What is it like to be a tenant in Housing Court?
  • What are some of the challenges tenants face in Housing Court?
  • How does having a lawyer impact the outcome of a tenant’s case and their overall experience in Housing Court?
  • How do individual judges run their courtroom in Bronx Housing Court and how does this affect tenants?
  • How do tenants and landlord lawyers interact in Bronx Housing Court?


Information did CASA need to collect to answer these research questions?

  • Relevant laws and regulations that govern Housing Court polices and personnel
  • Primary data about tenants’ experiences in Housing Court through surveys and focus groups
  • Secondary data about the average tenant in Housing Court
  • Court data on the number of cases, types of cases, number of evictions, etc
  • Data and stories on the impact of flawed Housing Court polices

WHY…

Is this research useful or important to CASA?

  • Internally: to develop the leadership of its members through their direct participation in the research; to strengthen their Housing Court Reform campaign by gathering data and creating a report that can support the campaign goals; to increase CASA membership; and allow CASA members to share their stories.
  • Externally: to educate the public and elected officials about housing court; to get media attention towards the need for better court policies and resources for tenants; to put pressure on Court officials to improve policies; to pass legislation to reform Housing Court.


WHO…

Are the stakeholders in this issue?

  • Bronx residents in Housing Court (most of whom are low-income women of color).


Is CASA trying to influence?

  • The Office of Court Administration, Chief Justice Lippmann, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Fern Fisher, Bronx Supervising Judge Jaya Madhaven and Bronx City and State elected officials.


HOW…

Did CASA gather information (what methods did they use)?

  • SURVEYS: CASA collected surveys from over 1,000 Bronx residents in an interview-style format during early summer 2012. Most of the surveys were collected from tenants that were at Housing Court, but some of the surveys were collected at CASA events and meetings.
  • JUDGE OBSERVATIONS: CASA members randomly chose a sample of five Resolution Part judges to observe three times in order to collect quantitative and qualitative data about what actually happens in courtrooms and to identify differences between various courtrooms.
  • FOCUS GROUPS: CASA conducted three focus groups (a total of 25 tenants) to collect stories about what it is like to be a tenant in Housing Court, including interactions with judges, hallway deals, why tenants are in Housing Court and landlord harassment tactics.
  • POLICY DEVELOPMENT: CASA partnered with academics, lawyers and housing advocates who served as advisors to CASA members’ during their policy development stage. The advisors provided key insights into legal, legislative and political challenges and opportunities. This guidance enabled CASA members to make informed decisions and develop strong, comprehensive policy recommendations.


Did research support CASA’s organizing efforts

  • Since the research commenced, CASA’s membership has increased and new leaders have emerged. Several members now have research expertise in analyzing power structures, drafting surveys, collecting surveys, conducting focus groups, and analyzing data. CASA is using the final report to meet with elected officials and Court staff and are already gaining traction on their campaign goals. The overall research process and final report only helped to solidify CASA’s position as a leader on Bronx Housing Court issues.

Click here to read the report.

Case Study: 3.8 Stand for Tenant Safety

Stand for Tenant Safety

Background on Coalition and Issue

The Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition is a group of tenants’ rights and legal service organizations working with low-income communities in New York City on issues of construction in buildings occupied by tenants.  Members of the coalition noticed that landlords were conducting gut renovations and other major renovation projects in occupied buildings, where many of the tenants lived in rent regulated units. Landlords were systematically using construction as a way to push tenants out of rent stabilized housing, pressuring tenants to take buyouts to make way for tenants that will pay higher rent.

The entity responsible for responding to tenants’ complaints about construction is New York City’s Department of Buildings’ (DOB). The DOB had been slow and ineffective; tenants had a hard time navigating the DOB system and rarely got their problems solved by the DOB.

In order to learn more about the experiences of rent regulated tenants with this issue, the coalition wanted to collect information about the effects of long term construction on rent regulated tenants, and whether the resulting conditions constituted harassment. The coalition partnered with the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project to conduct research about the experiences of rent regulated tenants in rent stabilized buildings.

The coalition produced the “Stand for Tenant Safety” report about their findings from the research, and used the report to support a package of legislative bills that would strengthen the NYC Department of Building’s ability to address reckless construction in buildings.

WHAT…

Were the Organizing Goals connected to this research?

  • Explore how major construction has impacted the health, safety, and well-being of tenants in rent-regulated New York City buildings.
  • Document the extent to which major construction in rent stabilized buildings constituted harassment.
  • Determine whether DOB’s website, documents, and policies were accessible to tenants that were in need of assistance.
  • Generate data that will support the passage of legislation to curtail tenant harassment through construction and improve oversight and customer service of Department of Buildings.

 

Overall questions did the coalition want to answer through their research?

  • What is the experience of rent stabilized tenants undergoing major construction? Would any of these experiences constitute tenant harassment?
  • During major construction, are landlords of rent stabilized tenants complying with current housing maintenance code and other applicable codes?
  • Is the DOB adequately & effectively enforcing the laws that protect rent regulated tenants?
  • Do these laws sufficiently protect rent regulated tenants in buildings undergoing extensive construction?
  • Is the DOB website accessible to tenants (including those with limited English proficiency)

 

WHY…

Is this research useful or important for the coalition?

  • The research supported a legislative package of 12 bills proposed by the coalition in order to implement systemic reforms within the DOB.

WHO…

Are the Stakeholders in this Issue?

  • Rent regulated tenants experiencing  construction as harassment.

 

Was the coalition trying to influence?

  • The New York City Council, Mayor’s Office, and the Commissioner of the Department of Buildings.

HOW…

Did STS gather information (what methods did they use)?

  • Short survey: The coalition collected about 150 surveys in English, Spanish, and Chinese in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Leaders and organizers targeted buildings owned by bad-acting landlords, and surveys were collected via door-to-door outreach and at events and meetings.
  • Interviews: Leaders and organizers conducted 4 interviews in order to collect qualitative data about how construction has personally affected tenants’ lives. The tenants were from the surveyed buildings.
  • Secondary data: Researchers used the DOB website to look up complaints, violations, fines and permits for the surveyed buildings that were undergoing major construction.
  • Legislative review: Legal partners reviewed the legal definition of harassment in order to determine whether construction constituted harassment. Research was also done on the current legal landscape in order to draft the legislative bill package.

Did Research support STS’s organizing efforts?

  • The survey project provided opportunities to base build and educate community members. Leaders working with the survey developed outreach skills and a deepened understanding of what constitutes tenant harassment.
  • The data collected through the research was written into a report, presented to the New York City Council and used in the coalition’s organizing and advocacy for passage of the 12 bill legislative package.

Did research impact policy change?

The coalition created 12 bills that would strengthen the NYC Department of Building’s ability to address reckless construction. The legislative package has cited the research report. Each of the bills received support from about 15 council members. Currently, half of the bills have been hear

Case Study: 3.9 CAAAV Report - No Access: The Need for Improved Language Assistance Services for Limited English Proficient Asian Tenants of the New York City Housing Authority

Background on Organization and Issue

CAAAV is a pan-Asian community-based organization working to build the power of low-income Asian immigrants and refugees in New York City. One of CAAAV’s emerging campaigns involves organizing Asian residents in public housing, which is managed by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

 

While conducting outreach in public housing, CAAAV organizers noticed that Limited English Proficient (LEP) Asian tenants in public housing were having trouble communicating with NYCHA, specifically due to issues of language access. Since NYCHA is responsible for handling repair issues, rental payments, emergency management, and more, it was troubling that Asian tenants identified language access as a primary issue, despite NYCHA’s official policies and procedures for providing interpretation and translation to LEP tenants.

 

CAAAV partnered with the Community Development Project in order to identify NYCHA’s shortfalls in providing language access and the associated impact on Asian LEP tenants.

 

WHAT…

Were the Organizing Goals connected to this research?

  • Identify the biggest issues and greatest needs of Asian tenants in public housing.
  • Develop recommendations for NYCHA based on the  issues and greatest needs of Asian tenants.
  • Build a base of Asian public housing residents as members of CAAAV, as well as develop leaders in public housing.

 

Overall questions did CAAAV want to answer through their research?

  • What existing data is there about Asian residents in NYCHA housing?
  • What are existing NYCHA language access policies that impact Asian residents?
  • What are the biggest issues and needs facing Asian NYCHA residents?
  • How are Asian residents already involved in organizing efforts and/or support systems?

WHY…

Is this research useful or important for CAAAV?

  • To build a base of Asian tenants in public housing.
  • To determine NYCHA’s shortfalls in addressing the language access needs of LEP tenants.
  • To strengthen CAAAV’s campaign to reform NYCHA.

WHO…

Are the Stakeholders in this Issue?

  • LEP Asian tenants living in public housing

 

Was the coalition trying to influence?

  • The Mayor’s Office and NYCHA’s chair and CEO

HOW…

Did CAAAV gather information (what methods did they use)?

  • Surveys: CAAAV surveyed 221 NYCHA tenants in 14 public housing developments in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island about their access to interpretation and translation, experiences with repairs and maintenance, and language access needs. Surveys were conducted in Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, and Bangla.
  • Interviews: CAAAV conducted targeted interviews with members who were NYCHA tenants, to inform tenant profiles for their report. Interviews were conducted in Korean, Mandarin and Bangla.
  • Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Request: A FOIL request was submitted to NYCHA in order to gain access to relevant data regarding NYCHA’s language services.  The FOIL request was drafted following an extensive analysis of NYCHA’s language access policies, and the request was crafted to solicit information that NYCHA claimed to be tracking.  Over 1,000 pages of documents were received in response.
  • Legal Research: Research was done to investigate NYCHA’s legal obligation under federal, state and local laws to provide language assistance for LEP residents of public housing.

 

Did Research support CAAAV’s organizing efforts?

  • Developed the leadership of its members, and of Asian public housing residents who are not already members, through their direct participation in the research.
  • Generated data to support existing campaign goals and identify new ones, develop leaders, and strengthen multi-racial public housing organizing.

 

Did research impact policy change?

  • In conjunction with the report release CAAAV and CDP also met with officials from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and NYCHA to discuss and advocate for the recommendations in the report.
  • CAAAV and CDP convened a call with representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to discuss issues of language access as they relate to public housing.
  • With the help of Congress member Nydia Velasquez, Mandarin and Cantonese were implemented as automated language options in NYCHA’s resident calling center.