1504.0 - Methodological News, Jun 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/07/2007   
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Collecting Data Using Live Audience Voting Technology

In March 2007, a forum on bullying and harassment was held for MD staff, utilising live audience voting technology. This technology involves displaying a series of questions in a Power Point presentation to a group of participants. Each participant has their own individual electronic handset, which they use to anonymously answer the questions, by pressing the number that corresponds to the relevant answer/s. Group results are displayed immediately in graph form, and the data are stored for later reference or further analysis. The particular software used for this forum was IML QuestionWizard 7.

Bullying and harassment workshops and consultative forums held in 2006 identified some of the issues and behaviours that were of concern to some MD staff. The forum built upon these discussions, by determining how prevalent the identified behaviours were and which issues were perceived as most problematic. The information gained from the forum will be important to help target improvement activities in this area.

In consultation with senior MD staff, the Forms Consultancy Group (FCG) developed a questionnaire containing about 40 questions that focused on people's experiences of bullying and harassment in MD in the previous 12 months. Questions ranged from basic multiple-choice questions (e.g. asking participants to select from a list the behaviours they had been the target of), to multiple-stage questions, where participants first indicated the frequency of occurrence, and then their level of concern with a range of bullying and harassment behaviours. Basic demographic information was also collected.

All MD staff in Central Office were invited to attend the 90 minute forum, and 53 out of 105 (50.5%) attended. A trained facilitator from the Learning and Development section facilitated the session, ensuring that all of the questions were covered in the allotted time, noting patterns in the results, and inviting some discussion of results. Participants were given some simple practice questions at the start of the session so that they could get used to the voting procedure. The forum generally went smoothly, and participants answered most of the questions (none of which were compulsory). One of the handsets malfunctioned during the session, meaning that the affected participant had to use a spare handset.

Overall, feedback from the 16 staff who completed and returned feedback forms was positive, as was verbal feedback received. The most commonly mentioned benefits of the forum were: the ability to see instant results; being able to provide anonymous responses in a group setting; and getting an idea of the issues that are (and are not) viewed as problems by MD staff. Negative feedback from staff was mainly that: some of the questions were ambiguous and unclear; there were too many questions, and not enough discussion; and the more complex graphs, showing cross-tabulations of variables, were too complex to be shown during the session, and this analysis should be saved until after the session.

As a data collection method, this technique has a range of benefits. Participants indicated that they felt comfortable using the handsets to answer the questions (most of which were sensitive in nature). Data are collected automatically, and results are instant. The particular software used was relatively simple to learn and use; however, there were limitations in terms of the types of questions that could be created, such as the number of items participants are allowed to select from multiple-choice lists (4 or less).

Many interesting results emerged from the forum about the issues of concern to staff. Another similar forum is likely to be held later in the year, with changes made to the questions and structure of the forum based on participant feedback and knowledge we have gained about what does and does not work well in this type of forum.

For further information, please contact Chloe Groves on (02) 6252 7649.