One-to-one administration refers to a situation when someone delivers the questionnaire by hand to the designated person and arranges the completed form to be picked up later (e.g., handing out questionnaires to colleagues at work). This is a much more personal form of administration than mail surveys and therefore the chances for the questionnaires to be returned are significantly better. The personal contact also allows the questionnaire administrator to create rapport with the respondent, to explain the purpose of the enquiry, and to encourage cooperation. Furthermore, with young children (i.e., less than ten years old) the administrator can be present while they complete the questionnaire to be available if help is needed.
Oppenheim (1992) draws attention to a potential pitfall of one-to-one administration: When such a questionnaire administration strategy is adopted, researchers often utilize the help of someone in an official capacity on site who is not a skilled interviewer (e.g., a teacher or a manager or some other contact person in a targeted institution). However, there is a danger that without appropriate briefing such persons may, with the best intentions, introduce fatal biases. The face-to-face survey administrator needs to cover all the points that the cover letter does in postal surveys (cf. Section 3.2.1) and yet, when we ask mediators to hand out a few questionnaires in the contexts they move around in, how often do we train them properly for doing this job properly? When it comes to group administration (cf. Section 3.2.3) researchers typically place more emphasis on standardizing the administration procedures and with postal surveys a carefully composed cover letter can do the job; however, one-to-one administration somehow slips into the gap between the two and it is often assumed that exercising the 'personal touch' with the respondents (which is the mediator's forte) can substitute for professional administration procedures. A possible remedy is to give the administrator a cue card with the main points to be covered briefly when handing out each questionnaire.
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