The Survey under Unusual Conditions: The Jamaica Human Fertility Investigation

By Kurt W. Back; J. Mayone Stycos | Go to book overview

skills for the difficult cases is seen by the remark below:

. . . It was so complicated and difficult that it seemed to exceed [in difficulty] any case I might get outside; and if I did get similar cases I think I could manage on account of the practice I got from that aspect. (H)

Our hypothesis, then, is that once the trainee had to do field work in the presence of a supervisor or director, her skill, and consequently her confidence, were at a high point. That this is probably the case is evidenced by the fact that no one mentioned the supervised field interviews adversely, and that ten cited this as the most helpful or most interesting aspect (six said "most interesing," six "most helpful"). A few spontaneous comments from the trainees also support this supposition:

I felt a considerable amount of stage fright before my first field interview, but the experience was very valuable and built up self-confidence . . . (A)

It helped develop more confidence in ourselves. (O)

One final point should be made concerning the supervised field practice. Since there were only six staff members to sit in on seventeen interviewers' trials, it was decided that those not accompanied at any one time by a staff member would be accompanied by one other interviewer who would act as critic. One trainee expressed her feeling that this role was most helpful:

I found the role of observer-critic most helpful as it gave me new ideas on establishing rapport and the opportunity of seeing how not to conduct an interview. (N)


E. Adverse Criticisms

These were so few that little can be said about them. Most of them were unique--a reference to a particular lecture, a complaint about too many statistics, long hours, eating arrangements, and so on. Aside from the group of five who reacted unfavorably to the tests, only one other set of criticisms (five persons) merits attention--comments on group performance:

Unnecessary questions thrown in by candidates. (C)

. . . instead of listening they all clamored and tried to turn the lecture into a beehive. (L)

Question time was sometimes confusing through private conversations and should be controlled by the person in charge of the group. (N)

Similar criticisms were made in the previous Jamaican project, and stem, perhaps inevitably, from the prevalence of a relatively democratic atmosphere useful for encouraging participation by all members of the course.17


F. Training Evaluations Following Field Work

Upon completion of the survey, interviewers were again asked to rate the training. We can thus compare evaluations of the staff during the green and the experienced periods. Whereas we have seen that five had earlier evaluated the training as "couldn't be better," no such enthusiasm appeared following field work. The opinion at this stage was unanimous--"good." Naturally we are especially interested in the suggestions of the more experienced team, but unfortunately, very few comments were made. The most frequent suggestions (four interviewers) were that more time should have been spent on the function and methods of canvassing as opposed to interviewing. This is of particular interest since it is quite true that, in the rush of field preparations, the directors gave insufficient attention to this aspect. The focus on interviews rather than on careful attention being paid to each phase in sequence undermined the interviewers' feeling of the importance of the canvassing aspect. Especially revealing is the following comment illustrating how inadvertent office procedure can give misleading impressions:

Canvass books did not receive the same respect as the pre-interviews and were just dumped in the office and later mislaid. (H)

Two interviewers made the excellent suggestion that coding experience would have been profitable prior to field work:

An insight into clerical-work and coding should be had by every field worker, and we would have done much better than we have done. (K)

I think a little more information as regards the office work may have impressed on the field staff how important it would be to get direct answers to the questions. (B)

Finally, there were two interviewers who suggested that more time could have profitably been spent in training in the field.


Morale

We believe that the establishment and maintenance of high morale depended on a number of factors: 1) a con

____________________
17
In such areas as Jamaica, where students are accustomed to more authoritarian teaching methods, one of our training objectives has been the encouragement of give-and-take and the development of a strong group spirit among the members. In the process, however, meetings occasionally had the atmosphere of a free-for-all, with two or more trainees addressing the group leader at the same time, numerous side-discussions, and so forth. On the one hand, this is good evidence of the kind of democratic group atmosphere desired but, on the other, does probably slow down learning in certain aspects.

-21-

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The Survey under Unusual Conditions: The Jamaica Human Fertility Investigation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Contents 1
  • Foreword 3
  • Field Problems and Their Solution 3
  • Interviewer Screening 5
  • Interviewer Training 14
  • Reliability and Validity 21
  • Part II - Interviewer Abilities and Interviewer Performance 24
  • Interviewer Traits 30
  • Performance Criteria 31
  • Interrelation of Traits and Performance 34
  • Mutual Reactions of Interviewers And Respondents 41
  • Summary 42
  • Appendix 47
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