Survey Research Lab

Survey Research Lab 2017-01-03T10:56:51+00:00

The Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) provides technical and research capabilities for all types of surveys. As an interdisciplinary unit at Texas A&M University, PPRI can assemble teams of researchers experienced in survey research methodology as well as specialized subject matter.

The research group at PPRI has extensive experience in designing and conducting studies to answer research questions using a variety of survey data collection methods. In addition to telephone surveys, we have conducted field surveys of diverse populations in private homes, prisons, hospitals, and other locations.

Our clients include agencies and organizations such as:

  • National Science Foundation
  • Center for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Texas Education Agency
  • Texas Department of Commerce
  • Texas Cancer Council
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Click on any of the subject areas below to read more.

Complete Study Design:

PPRI research staff can provide complete research design support for survey projects including development of research strategies, sampling design, and survey instruments.

Writing and Production of Reports:

PPRI research staff can write and fully develop customized reports designed to meet the needs of sponsoring organizations. Reports are prepared using print-quality graphics and typeset-quality desktop publishing software.

Telephone Interviewing:

PPRI conducts telephone interviewing projects on both short and long term bases. With a directly supervised staff of approximately 60 trained interviewers and facilities that include over 50 phone interview stations, PPRI is equipped to handle survey research projects on any scale.

Field Interviewing:

PPRI offers an experienced professional, supervisory, and interviewing staff well-qualified in field interviewing.

Bilingual Interviewing:

Bilingual interviewers are available during all interviewing shifts depending on the project language requirements. PPRI can also arrange for expert translation of instruments into numerous languages including, for example, Spanish or Vietnamese.

Elite Interviewing:

PPRI staff includes interviewers with the experience and educational background necessary for the special demands of elite interviewing.

Mail Surveys:

PPRI can create cost-effective personalized letters for your organization while developing and managing mailing lists for mail surveys. Also, we can implement hybrid telephone/mail surveys that involve identifying or contacting respondents by phone prior to mailing the survey instrument.

Coding of Open-Ended Responses:

PPRI staff develop meaningful categories for verbatim responses to survey questions through standard content analytic procedures. Experienced coders evaluate the responses and code them into categories, ensuring accuracy and consistency of data.

Data Entry:

PPRI has trained data entry staff and on-site computerized data entry capabilities that allow fast, accurate entry of data. When time is of the essence, data entry can be coordinated so that initial analysis is in real-time as data are collected.

PPRI Survey Lab facilities are equipped to handle the requirements of virtually any survey. Our phone interview facilities provide the best possible environment for interviewers. Equipment is available for production of survey instruments, entering and analyzing data, and producing reports. Additionally, PPRI utilizes an Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) system that automates much of the survey interview process.
The Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing system (CATI) represents the cutting edge of survey technology. With CATI on-line, a computer manages the interview process, displays prompt questions for the interviewer, and electronically records responses. The system also produces productivity and progress reports, interviewer time sheets, and telephone billing reports.

CATI prevents most mistakes from occurring by guiding the interviewer through the questionnaire and automatically skipping questions as appropriate, based on the respondent’s answers. Further, the system eliminates data entry errors that can occur as information is transferred from printed questionnaires to electronic format. The CATI system also allows the Survey Lab supervisor to monitor all interviewers from a central computer.

Other CATI benefits include data entry and coding immediately after the interview, which makes survey data available more quickly with efficient and prompt production of report tables and graphics.

PPRI is committed to providing the highest quality survey work. Because the skill of the interviewer is such a critical component of the successful survey process, we take special care in training and supervising our interviewers.

Training:

PPRI interviewers are trained in general interviewing procedures during their initial instruction period. An additional workshop is required after an interviewer’s first month in the Survey Lab to review procedures. Interviewers are closely supervised. New interviewers are monitored carefully and given on-the-job guidance by supervisors. All interviewers working on a project are fully trained in administering the project questionnaire and in any special procedures that may apply.

Evaluation:

During each survey shift, at least 20 percent of the interviewers are monitored by the supervisor. Edit checking of the completed questionnaires is done during the shift to allow any errors to be brought to the attention of the interviewer immediately, thus reducing data loss due to inappropriate entry. Data on the efficiency and effectiveness of each interviewer is collected for all interviews on a daily basis.

Survey research has been a major activity of the Public Policy Research Institute since its founding in 1983. Below are brief descriptions of selected PPRI projects reflecting a variety of methods and topics.

Population Alcohol and Drug Prevalence surveys were conducted for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division (MHSA) of the Texas Department of State Health Services. Each survey involved telephone interviews with over 5,000 adult Texans screened from a total random sample of 12,000 households. The large sample and screening allowed accurate estimates to be made of incidence and prevalence of use in age, ethnic, and regional subgroups.

Numerous surveys dealing with Transportation were conducted for the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI). The largest of these was a survey of 9,600 people designed to enable separate analyses of the state’s highway districts. Other surveys assessed the economic price motorists were willing to pay to use roads, attitudes of respondents regarding mandatory seat belt use, responses to a proposed redevelopment of a transportation corridor in Dallas, Texas, and respondents’ evaluation of freeway signs.

PPRI has conducted numerous health surveys, including three surveys of minorities living in selected areas of Houston and Fort Worth, Texas. One survey involved 600 males over 40 years of age, which was followed by a second survey of the same sample several months later. The third survey involved a sample of 1,200 minorities of all ages living in the same areas. All of these surveys were part of a program aimed at increasing cancer prevention measures among the targeted populations. Another PPRI-conducted health survey included 1,200 residents of 10 rural counties in Texas with oversampling of the elderly and minority populations. This assessment focused on the identification of cancer prevention needs, available services, practice patterns of primary care physicians and nurse practitioners in relation to cancer screening and prevention, and identifying gaps in services in these rural counties.

For the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), PPRI conducted a survey of 4,800 households with children under the age of two investigating immunization status along with attitudes, knowledge, and other factors that might influence immunization. The project involved screening over 100,000 households in person to locate those with children of the correct age range. Interviews were conducted in-person with shot record verification. The statewide sample in thirty counties was selected utilizing a multiple stage cluster sample approach.

PPRI also conducting over 2,000 household surveys in the Texas-Mexico border areas, including the Colonias to study drug and alcohol use. In some of these surveys, samples of hair were collected to allow validation of the self-report data.

In another survey, PPRI collected knowledge and attitude data related to health for the DSHS from a sample of 900 women over the age of 40 in the Lubbock, Ft. Worth, and Longview areas of Texas. PPRI designed the sample and conducted in-person, household-based interviews in the three areas.

Job Training Partnership Act Follow-Up Surveys were conducted by PPRI. These surveys cumulatively involved over 240,000 participants in job training programs conducted in the state by the Texas Department of Commerce. Results provided evaluation data used to determine bonuses for contractors and to inform policy makers regarding future training activities.

A Study of the Costs of Epilepsy involved a survey of 1,000 people with epilepsy to estimate the annual indirect costs of epilepsy in the U.S. as well as the expected lifetime earnings loss caused by the disorder.

The Workers’ Compensation Small Employer Survey provided data on the experience of small employers in obtaining workers’ compensation insurance. In a related study, injured workers were surveyed to examine the medical treatment and vocational rehabilitation services received by permanently impaired workers’ compensation claimants. Also examined was the extent to which the work-related injuries caused financial hardship for the injured workers.

A survey of over 1,000 recently insured drivers was conducted by PPRI for the Texas State Board of Insurance to determine how many of these individuals had not been previously insured.

PPRI conducted a survey of over 500 women 18 – 45 years of age in four south Texas counties to determine the impact of a program to reduce alcohol and drug use during pregnancy.

PPRI conducted surveys of prison, jail, Texas Youth Commission (TYC) facility, and probation populations within the state for the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division (MHSA) of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

In-person interviews with over 1,000 Texas Department of Corrections inmates and 1,000 youthful offenders in the TYC facility were conducted. Following this, the prison and TYC population survey was conducted a second and third time and expanded to include an additional 500 interviews with women prisoners. Additionally, a separate survey project included county jail inmates and a sample of probationers in three counties.

On behalf of MHSA, PPRI conducted in-person interviews with over 1,000 postpartum women in five hospitals in all of the major metropolitan areas of Texas. In addition to interviews, blood samples were collected along with data on birth outcomes.

A survey of obstetrical patients was conducted for the Texas Department of State Health Services. PPRI developed a questionnaire and devised a sampling design that allowed for data collection from a representative sample of postpartum women during their hospital stays for the purpose of estimating the need for prenatal care and delivery services across the state.

The National Science Foundation commissioned PPRI to evaluate the effectiveness of a special program designed to promote the academic careers of women in the sciences and engineering. The study involved conducting telephone interviews with 600 women who received grants under the NSF’s Research Opportunities for Women (ROW) program; with women who received funding through traditional disciplinary grant programs; and with women who applied for but did not receive funding either through ROW or NSF disciplinary programs.

A Minority Leadership Development Study sponsored by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board was conducted to identify potential minority leaders and increase their involvement in the community college and technical/vocational education systems in Texas. Staff at PPRI assessed levels of minority involvement through a telephone survey of administrators and faculty working in Texas’ community colleges and technical institutes. Interviews were also conducted with chief executive officers and successful minority leaders working in both the public and private sectors.

In a study conducted by PPRI for the Educational Economic Policy Center, nearly 1,000 business leaders, principals, other school administrators, and teachers as well as 700 parents were interviewed by telephone to determine the educational priorities of different groups. This information was included in a report to the Texas legislature.

Five hundred Texas Tech Law School graduates were surveyed to evaluate the law school program and determine long-term professional outcomes.

PPRI conducted a mail survey of over 1,000 schools nationally. The survey was a part of an evaluation of the services provided by the Drug Free Schools Program Regional Centers being conducted by Decision Information Resources, Inc.

An annual statewide survey of student alcohol and drug use has been ongoing since 1988. Surveys have been conducted in over 500 local school districts, allowing comparisons to be made between district and statewide samples. Over 200,000 questionnaires are administered and processed each year.