Student Athlete Questionnaire Survey Critique
Nowadays almost every facet of human life is studied using surveys and questionnaires by business organizations as well as educational and research institutions. Even governments use surveys for a wide range of purposes. Surveys are most commonly used by the scientists to gather quantitative and qualitative information in their search to prove scientific theories. On the other hand, businesses, such as software development firms, may often rely on the surveys to define what features the software users see as important.
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Such feedback forms may help businesses to improve their products and services or may provide the government clues which social initiatives should be undertaken to enhance the life quality in certain areas. According to Creswell (2013) surveys are most often used to gather quantitative data to gauge attitudes and tendencies of a population based on a specific sample. This critique is intended to evaluate the weaknesses and strengths as well as possibilities for improvement of the Student-Athlete Questionnaire form prepared by the Nazareth College Athletic Training Program. Current Questionnaire is designed to collect data on the services quantity and quality provided by the Athletic Training Program at the Nazareth College.
Analysis of Questionnaire
Creswell (2013) suggests that a questionnaire type of survey should be designed in line with the particular purpose of the study the data is being collected for. Concerning Student-Athlete Questionnaire instructions of the survey form, they do not clearly state the purpose of the study. In this case, such a statement would probably motivate the students to answer the questions more carefully and thoughtfully. Firstly, it should be noted that the Questionnaire is rather long. On average, it would take anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to answer all of the questions, assuming the person being surveyed answers in detail and provides written feedback of questions number 7, 11, 12, 16, 20, 25, 26, 30 and 31.
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The length of the survey decreases the probability that the students will answer the questions carefully and in detail because many of them might find the task of writing comprehensive feedback rather tedious. This may lower the effectiveness of the survey. Secondly, the design of the Questionnaire is not very appealing. In most examples, there is not enough space between the question and answers to provide place for circling the right answer without taking the time to be precise and careful. The lines intended for written feedback are very narrow and many people would struggle to fit their handwriting into the space provided. Thirdly, the general instructions to the survey and the detailed instructions to some questions are not always clear and understandable. Even though the instructions say that the survey is anonymous and the participants are not required to provide their names, it is not clear whether the sex of the survey participants influences their answers. For example, female students may participate in sports which are more favorable regarding injury statistics compared to the male students. Additionally, while studying the survey it becomes clear that it is intended to gather statistics on the number and type of injuries incurred by the student-athletes in the course of their participation in the Athletic Training Programs. However, there might be a certain number of the student-athletes who have not suffered from any injuries in the course of their participation, and the survey is applied to them to a much lesser extent. The Questionnaire does not indicate the date or even the year when it was designed and the intended period of its use. It would be more logical if the survey was taken annually among all of the participants of the Athletic Training Programs at the Nazarene College, but this information is not evident from the survey form. From total 31 questions, the Questionnaire uses 8 as open-ended while 17 are closed-ended questions with 6 questions branching off.
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Each section of the survey and each question should be analyzed in detail to determine more specific weaknesses and potential for improvement. Before the Questionnaire starts with question number 1, the respondent should list the type of sport(s) he or she is participating in and the number of the year of participation. Even in this area there is some ambiguity. The Questionnaire could list all possible sports which are practiced at the Nazarene College, and the student could circle all those which are applied, because in the 1st year, a student may have participated in basketball, and then, in the 2nd year, he could have changed this kind of sport to Volleyball, for example.
The 1st question in the survey is a closed-ended question with another question branching off in case the respondents answer is positive. Since there is no clear instruction to skip to the question number 2 in case the respondent answers negatively to the first question, some students may put No to the branching question. This would alter the statistics of the survey and reflect negatively on the statistics of the treating injuries by the staff of the athletic department. The second question is also a clear closed-ended question which does not take much time to answer. In general, Creswell (2013) approves the use of closed-ended questions in the surveys since they provide the survey with reliable and valid information.
The second section entitled Prevention Programs consists of 9 questions, including 5 closed-ended, 2 open-ended, and 2 branching questions. The first question in this section, question number 3, asks whether the respondent has participated in any strength and conditioning programs at the Nazareth College. If the respondent gives a positive answer, he is then able to move on to the branching question 2A. On the other hand, for those student-athletes who did not participate in any strength and conditioning programs, there is no clear instruction to skip to question number 4. This lack of instruction may confuse the survey participants. The fourth question is a simple and relevant closed-ended question which asks whether the respondent has ever suffered a season-ending injury while participating in a sport at Nazareth College. Question number 5 is a closed-ended question requesting how many strength and conditioning session the respondent was able to attend. There are five options all of which include a range of number of the sessions. There is no option, however, which indicates 0 sessions or a Not applicable option for those students who did not participate in the sessions. It would have been better to unite this question with question 3 and put it under 3B, since this question directly relates to it. It would make the structure of the survey less confusing. Question number 6 deals with a qualitative assessment of the strength and conditioning programs for those who participated in them. It is a closed-ended question. Finally, question number 7 is an open-ended question intended to gather feedback and ideas which could improve the strength and conditioning programs. Once again, this question is not applicable to those students who did not participate in them. Overall, questions 3, 5, 6, 7 should be grouped together as they all relate to the strength and training sessions. On the other hand, questions 4 and 8 should be joined as they both relate to the injuries. Question number 8 is a branching question, but it lacks the instruction to answer question 8A if the answer to 8 is positive. Questions 9, 10 and 11 relate to the students participation in the nutritional assessment program. Question 9 and 10 are closed-ended, but question number 10 lacks the Not applicable option.
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The Injury Evaluation section of the survey contains 3 questions. Questions 12 and 14 are closed-ended and should be grouped together for better coherence; question number 13 is open-ended and should be placed last in this section. Additionally, this section is not applicable to those student-athletes who did not suffer any injuries during their participation in sports, therefore, there should be an instruction to skip this section totally for such respondents. While question 13 is intended to gather data and ideas for improvement of the injury evaluation process, open-ended questions always carry an increased chance of a biased response which affects the reliability of the survey.
In the next section entitled Immediate Treatment of Injuries there are six questions, three of which are straight-forward closed-ended questions, two of them are open-ended and one is a branching question. Overall, there should have been instructions for the students who have not suffered any injuries to skip this section. The sequence of the questions is a somewhat confusing. First question in this section, question number 15, is aimed at assessing the level of satisfaction with the overall injury treatment process. It would be more logical to begin the section with question number 17 which asks whether a member of the training staff was immediately accessible to treat the injury. Next, question 18 should follow, but it would have been better to group it as a branching question in question 17 as these questions are closely related. Question 15 and 16 relate to the satisfaction in the level of treatment and possible suggestions to improve the injury treatment process. These questions should follow questions 17 and 18 and not precede them. Finally, questions 19 and 20 deal with referral to hospitals off-campus. Question 19 is a branching question and should include an instruction to skip the rest of the question in case of a negative answer. Question 20 is an open-ended question, and as such it brings a possibility of a biased response.
In the Rehabilitation section which includes four closed-ended questions, and one open-ended of them is a lack of clear instructions for those athletes who were not injured. There should be a Skip this section note for such cases. For questions 21 through 24 there should be a Not Applicable option. This section should have included more questions. For example, there could be a question on how many sessions the injured sportsman went through during the rehabilitation process.
Another major drawback of the Questionnaire is that the fifth page is turned upside down. It is impossible to print it out on both sides of the paper. The respondents might be confused and would stop answering with question number 25. Question 26 is a combination of a closed-ended and open-ended question. Yet the question itself is confusing, because the athletes might not know the exact administrative responsibilities which may prevent a member of the athletic training staff to evaluate or treat injuries of the athletes. This question does not carry much reliability and does not add value to the information being gathered.
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The final section entitled the Overall Satisfaction includes 5 questions, two of which are open-ended. Question 27 asks to evaluate the satisfaction level with athletic training services and it is done correspondingly. Question number 28 is a branching question, but it does not have clear instructions to Skip to next question in case the answer is negative. Question number 29 is closed-ended, but it is very difficult to evaluate the level of the appropriate attention paid by the training staff. This is a highly subjective area; possibly, another branching question could state Please, provide examples in case you did not receive adequate attention. Finally, questions 30 and 31 are open-ended questions intended to gather feedback and general ideas for the improvement of the athletic department processes. Even though these questions may increase the bias of the questionnaire, they may be valuable.
The Student Athlete Questionnaire was designed to obtain feedback on a number of issues relating to the functioning of the Athletic Department at Nazareth College and the services it provides. The questionnaire lacks a clear and appealing format, statement of specific purpose and has a number of drawbacks in the structure of the questions within the sections. Additionally, some of the questions are confusing as a lot of them are not applicable to the certain students who either have not been injured or have not participated in the certain programs offered by the department. Also, the large percentage of open-ended questions increases the bias of the responses. Overall, the Questionnaire should be reviewed, restructured and tested on a small number of respondents to arrive at a valid and simple survey format which would be easy to understand and answer.