This is not the case when data are being gathered from human subjects. Timing considerations that must be addressed are the month, the day of the week, and the time of day that the data are collected. In the example of identifying what factors lead a person to purchase a season pass to the pool, the interview should be conducted as soon as possible after the purchase of the pass. If the researchers wait weeks or months after the purchase, the subjects may not recall what factors led them to make the purchase. This interview could be done over the phone or in a small group.
For the fitness center evaluating the personal trainers, a specific time frame is necessary in order to ensure a high response rate. The manager decides to give the clients an evaluation form to complete after their last session with their personal trainer (before they leave the facility). This is a better plan than mailing the surveys to the clients’ home weeks after the clients’ last session with their trainer. The timing of data collection can affect the quality of the data received from the subjects. Table 8.5 presents this information, along with the previous decisions in the instrumentation plan.
The place that data are collected and the person collecting data must be specifically defined in the instrumentation plan. The best plan is to standardize the place and person for the data collection. This standardization helps enhance the truthfulness and validity of the data. The subjects should be in an environment where they feel at ease so that they will answer questions honestly. These two considerations are not an issue for the first research question because the data are coming from the documents of the agency and not from individuals.
In the case of identifying the factors that lead to purchasing a season pass for the pool, the interviews will be conducted by telephone. The people conducting the interviews should be trained in how to conduct an interview and how to record the information accurately. Each person being interviewed will be at home while participating in the interview, which is a comfortable environment for that individual.
In the example of evaluating personal trainers, having the clients’ trainer administer the survey in the gym will most likely provide invalid data. The ideal situation would be to have one staff person provide the clients with a quiet room to complete the survey. Then the subject should return the survey to the same staff member who gave the survey to the subject. This standardizes where the data are collected and by whom. Table 8.6 provides a summary of all the instrument pieces and provides examples of each decision that needs to be made in developing the instrumentation plan for a study.
The next planning decision to make is how to analyze the data and what to do with the information once the analysis is completed. The type of analysis used with data is determined by whether the data are quantitative or qualitative data. To analyze quantitative data, some type of statistical analysis is used to provide the results. The type of statistical analysis used with data must be thought out and documented in the instrumentation plan.
Some of the most frequently used options for statistical analysis will be covered later in this text. Qualitative data are analyzed through a coding process that identifies themes; these themes become the foundation for the conclusions of the study. This type of data analysis will also be covered later in this text. The results of the data analysis should be summarized and presented in a report to supervisors and other parties for review. Research and evaluation efforts yield a wealth of information that can be used to educate commissioners, city councils, customers, and other decision makers. Studies that document outcomes of the programs and benefits to the community serve as a powerful tool that allows the agency to document its benefits to the community through facts and data, not perceptions and speculations. In today’s cost-conscious society, the agency must prove that it is contributing to the quality of life of the community and must document the outcomes from the programs. This type of documentation and evidence is also a requirement for CAPRA accredited agencies and represents an ongoing evaluation process within the agency. Table 8.7 summarizes the key decisions that need to be made in the development of the instrumentation plan.