Group administration

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In L2 research, group administration is the most common method of having questionnaires completed. One reason for this is that the typical targets of the surveys are language learners studying within institutional contexts, and it is often possible to arrange to administer the instrument to them while they are assembled together, for example, as part of a lesson or slotted between certain other organized activities. The other reason for the popularity of this administration format is that it can overcome some of the problems just mentioned with regard to postal surveys or one-to-one administration. Groups of students are typically 'captive groups' in the sense that a response rate of nearly 100% can be achieved with them, and because a few questionnaire administrators can collect a very large number of questionnaires, it is easier to make sure that all of them are adequately trained for the job.

Group administration is the format I have used most in my past research and it is my overall experience that as long as the questionnaire is well designed and the administration situation well prepared in advance, very good results can be achieved. There are, however, some important points to consider:

• Because respondents have to work individually, Oppenheim (1992) reports that this format may not be appropriate for children under about age 10.

• With larger groups, or with groups of less mature kids, more than one field worker at a time is needed to help to answer questions and to distribute/collect the questionnaires.

• Oppenheim (1992) also warns us that in group administration 'contamination' through copying, talking, or asking questions is a constant danger.

• The negative influence of deviant kids may create an inappropriate climate for sincere and thoughtful work.

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