Increasing postal questionnaire response rates: The effect of a monetary incentive on adult students in a business course

Year: 1994

Author: Zajkowski, Mary

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Postal questionnaires are frequently used in educational research as a means of data collection. However, response rates are often disappointingly low, introducing questions of sample bias and generalisability. In an effort to increase response rates from adult distance education students in a polytechnic business course, a monetary incentive was used with a postal questionnaire survey on attitudes to fees and course completion.

While the response rate was an increase over that from surveys of the same student base without an incentive, it was not outstandingly large. A proportion of students opted not to receive the incentive. Questions can be raised as to whether the employment situation of the principally part-time students affected their choice, whether the response would have been similar in a country outside New Zealand or whether the technique would have been more effective had the population or the sample been limited to a particular age group. (Students in this programme at The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand range from school leavers to those in their fifties.)