Considerations for Mobile Data Collection

Consider what data you are looking to obtain in deciding if mobile data collection is best. Sometimes we mistakenly want to use devices just because we have them. Like any form of assessment, mobile administration has an appropriate use. Focus on what data you hope to obtain, consider if mobile devices would be best to administer, then move forward.

Different institutions vary the manner with which they approach or carry out their mobile efforts. Some universities have students or staff members wear specific shirts that designate or are synonymous with mobile data collection so students can easily identify or know what’s taking place when they see these individuals stopping people for feedback. Likewise, other institutions utilize high-profile faculty or staff members to encourage student participation – as students might react differently if approached by the Dean of Students versus a peer.

It is also important to consider the location where mobile data collection would be administered. Think not only of high-traffic areas, but areas where students are likely to give some of their time (e.g., plaza areas). Keep in mind the presentation or appeal to students: is there a booth or display drawing students to utilize the mobile devices? Is there a way to quick explain or present catchy/attention-grabbing statistics or facts? Letting students know how their voice has been heard or how it could be heard provides an added incentive for participation.

It can be beneficial to share assessment results with students to let them know their opinion is not only being heard but that change may occur because of it. This validates participation and contribution, which can prompt an added sense of responsibility or desire to participate, as well as potentially promote participation with their peers.

Mobile Device Guidelines

Anthology recommends the following when planning to administer a project using the mobile devices:

  • Maximum 15-20 questions
  • Few to no open-ended questions, as it can be cumbersome for respondents to try to write in their answers.

If you are looking to include several open-ended questions and/or the survey exceeds 30 questions you may want to consider administering the project via an online survey instead.

There are a few scenarios that work well for administering a project via mobile devices:

  • Randomly approaching students at busy campus locations. This can work well if there is a “hot topic” on campus and you are looking to just get some basic information from a random selection of students.
  • Position mobile devices at points of service. This works well as a type of entrance or exit survey for office appointments or visits. For example, an advising office might ask students to take a short survey about their satisfaction with their advising appointments as they are checking out and leaving the office. This method is often used in health centers, counseling centers, advising centers, and offices of financial aid.
  • Use multiple mobile devices after or during a campus event or program. This may apply to all-day or multiple day events that last for hours over the course of a day(s) so folks are taking the survey on the devices all throughout the day. It may also be the case that it is a program or event and so people are taking the survey at relatively the same time, most often on their way out the door.

You can administer a project using both the web and the mobile devices. It is important to note that there is slightly limited functionality when administering a survey via the mobile devices, so the web survey may not be set up as it would if it was only a web survey and not a web and mobile survey.

Please contact us if you have further questions about the use of the mobile devices.

See Using SV Mobile App and What are my options for collecting data on mobile devices? for additional information.

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