Multi Research Methods Using Captive Respondents
Academic Conferences International
Faculty of Education and Arts
Faculty Office (FEA)
Student samples can present a large, convenient, cost effective and questionnaire savvy group of respondents. They have been used extensively across disciplines, cultures and with a diverse range of methodologies. With questions such as “Are student’s real people?” and “Do their response patterns accurately reflect other populations?” the generalisability of student samples has been debated extensively in the literature, particularly during the 1970’s. It was concluded that students make appropriate samples when they represented similar profiles on important characteristics to the population of interest. Students offer academics an efficient, useful and insightful sample group. They are a captive audience and usually familiar with the task of completing questionnaires using scales and measurement items. This paper highlights the benefits of using an appropriate student sample, in this case a group of students on an academic study abroad field trip. Being an accessible group, they were exposed to a number of data collection techniques both quantitative and qualitative during the field trip. The aim of the research was to examine students’ level of engagement and extent of social, cultural and academic learning via the field trip experience. The data collection methods included: a pre trip questionnaire on student field trip expectations, researcher observations, capturing video footage, interviews with students and hosts, written student introspection both during and on return from the trip and follow - up discussion with the students post trip including reference to student photos and memorabilia. Student engagement and ultimately student learning via field trips provides a host of positive outcomes including the alignment with many university strategic planning initiatives. Catch cries such as producing global students and students with an international outlook will continue to act as drivers for offshore field trips. The use of multiple methods as discussed in this paper provides student field trip planners with unique and previously untapped sources of valuable data to understand the student learning processes and support the ongoing use of field trips as a pedagogically sound teaching and learning approach.