Emphasizing confidentiality

Questionnaires administered in educational settings often contain sensitive items such as the evaluation of the language course (cf. also Sections 2.1.3 and 2.6.3). Students cannot be expected to provide honest information and possibly make critical statements about such issues unless we manage to convince them about the confidentiality of the investigation. Simply saying that the data will be treated confidentially, or making the questionnaires anonymous, may not be a sufficient guarantee for some respondents. In a study that involved the appraisal of a range of situation-specific factors and motives (Clément et al., 1994), we made a big 'fuss' about handing out envelopes to the participants and asking them to put the completed forms in these and then seal them. The administrator, who was external to the school, then stamped every single envelope in front of the students with a university stamp before collecting them. This insured confidentiality.

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