While it is possible to examine communication from multiple theoretical perspectives, it has been our experience that our colleagues tend to favor certain theoretical paradigms over others. Put another way, we all understand the world in ways that make sense to us.
Which theoretical paradigm s do you most align yourself with? How would this influence what you would want to accomplish if you were researching human communication? What types of communication phenomena grab your attention? These are questions that researchers wrestle with as they put together their research projects. While most researchers have preferences for certain theoretical paradigms, most researchers also have preferred methodologies for conducting research in which they develop increased expertise throughout their careers.
As with theories, there are a large number of methodologies available for conducting research. As we did with theories, we believe it is easier for you to understand methodologies by categorizing them into paradigms. Most Communication researchers have a preference for one research paradigm over the others. For our purposes, we have divided methodological paradigms into 1 rhetorical methodologies, 2 quantitative methodologies, and 3 qualitative methodologies.
We encode and decode messages everyday. As we take in messages, we use a number of criteria to evaluate them. Did you have a conversation about the movie with others? Did that conversation include commentary on various parts of the film such as the set design, dialogue, plot, and character development?
If so, you already have a taste of the variety of elements that go into rhetorical research. Simply stated, rhetorical methods of research are sophisticated and refined ways to evaluate messages. Steps for Doing Rhetorical Research We already outlined the seven basic steps for conducting research, but there are ways to vary this process for different methodologies. Below are the basic steps for conducting rhetorical research.
Determine a focus of study such as political speeches, television shows or genres, movies or movie genres, commercials, magazine texts, the rhetoric of social movement organizations, music lyrics, visual art, public memorials, etc.
Analyze the message s of focus such as a Presidential address by using a particular rhetorical method. Interpret the implications of the rhetorical act, as well as the rhetorical act itself. For example, a scholar might choose to rhetorically research television violence and provide interpretations regarding the implications of television violence on viewers. Share the results of research.
From sharing research comes the opportunity to improve our ability to create and evaluate effective messages. We can also use what we learn from rhetorical research to shape the ways messages are constructed and delivered.
What do rhetorical methods actually look like? How are they done? While each rhetorical methodology acts as a unique lens for understanding messages, no one is more correct over another. Instead, each allows us a different way for understanding messages and their effects. This piece demonstrates rhetorical research used as a means of understanding a historical rhetorical act in its particular context.
What is the value of researching acts of communication from a rhetorical perspective? The systematic research of messages tells us a great deal about the ways people communicate, the contexts in which they communicate, the effects of communication in particular contexts, and potential areas to challenge and transform messages to create social change. Rhetorical research methodologies help us better determine how and why messages are effective or ineffective, as well as the outcomes of messages on audiences.
Think about advertising campaigns. Advertising agencies spend millions of dollars evaluating the effectiveness of their messages on audiences. The purpose of advertising is to persuade us to act in some way, usually the purchasing of products or services. Advertisers not only evaluate the effectiveness of their messages by determining the amount of products sold, they also evaluate effectiveness by looking at audience response to the messages within the current cultural and social contexts.
Steps for Doing Quantitative Research Rhetorical research methods have been being developed since the Classical Period. As the transition was made to seeing communication from a social scientific perspective, scholars began studying communication using the methods established from the physical sciences.
Thus, quantitative methods represent the steps of using the Scientific Method of research. Decide on a focus of study based primarily on your interests. What do you want to discover or answer? Develop a research question s to keep your research focused. Develop a hypothesis es. A hypothesis states how a researcher believes the subjects under study will or will not communicate based on certain variables. Collect data in order to test hypotheses. In our example, you might observe various college classrooms in order to count which students professors call on more frequently.
Analyze the data by processing the numbers using statistical programs like SPSS that allow quantitative researchers to detect patterns in communication phenomena. Analyzing data in our example would help us determine if there are any significant differences in the ways in which college professors call on various students. Interpret the data to determine if patterns are significant enough to make broad claims about how humans communicate? Simply because professors call on certain students a few more times than other students may or may not indicate communicative patterns of significance.
Share the results with others. Through the sharing of research we continue to learn more about the patterns and rules that guide the ways we communicate. The term quantitative refers to research in which we can quantify, or count, communication phenomena. Quantitative methodologies draw heavily from research methods in the physical sciences explore human communication phenomena through the collection and analysis of numerical data.
What if we wanted to see how public speaking textbooks represent diversity in their photographs and examples. One thing we could do is quantify these to come to conclusions about these representations. For quantitative research, we must determine which communicative acts to count? How do we go about counting them? What can we learn by counting acts of human communication? Suppose you want to determine what communicative actions illicit negative responses from your professors. How would you go about researching this?
What data would you count? In what ways would you count them? Who would you study? How would you know if you discovered anything of significance that would tell us something important about this? These are tough questions for researchers to answer, particularly in light of the fact that, unlike laws in the physical sciences, human communication is varied and unpredictable.
Nevertheless, there are several quantitative methods researchers use to study communication in order to reveal patterns that help us predict and control our communication. Think about polls that provide feedback for politicians.
While people do not all think the same, this type of research provides patterns of thought to politicians who can use this information to make policy decisions that impact our lives. There are many ways researchers can quantify human communication.
Not all communication is easily quantified, but much of what we know about human communication comes from quantitative research. To determine if students were more motivated to learn by participating in a classroom game versus attending a classroom lecture, the researchers designed an experiment. They wanted to test the hypothesis that students would actually be more motivated to learn from the game.
In a number of classes instructors were asked to proceed with their normal lecture over certain content control group , and in a number of other classes, instructors used a game that was developed to teach the same content experimental group. The students were issued a test at the end of the semester to see which group did better in retaining information, and to find out which method most motivated students to want to learn the material.
It was determined that students were more motivated to learn by participating in the game, which proved the hypothesis. The other thing that stood out was that students who participated in the game actually remembered more of the content at the end of the semester than those who listened to a lecture. Zabada-Ford conducted survey research of customers to determine their expectations and experiences with physicians, dentists, mechanics, and hairstylists.
In this study, the goal was to be able to predict the behavior of customers based on their expectations before entering a service-provider context. However, this research can be used to alter and change messages, such as PSAs, to produce behavioral change in the culture.
In this case, the change would be to either keep adolescents from smoking marijuana, or to get them to stop this behavior if they are currently engaged in it. First, the broader U. To this end, many Communication researchers emulate research methodologies of the physical sciences to study human communication phenomena. In fact, many of your own interactions are based on a loose system of quantifying behavior. Think about how you and your classmates sit in your classrooms. Most students sit in the same seats every class meeting, even if there is not assigned seating.
In this context, it would be easy for you to count how many students sit in the same seat, and what percentage of the time they do this.
You probably already recognize this pattern without having to do a formal study. However, if you wanted to truly demonstrate that students communicatively manifest territoriality to their peers, it would be relatively simple to conduct a quantitative study of this phenomenon.
This research would not only provide us with an understanding of a particular communicative pattern of students, it would also give us the ability to predict, to a certain degree, their future behaviors surrounding space issues in the classroom.
While these trends and patterns cannot be applied to all people, in all contexts, at all times, they help us understand what variables play a role in influencing the ways we communicate.
While quantitative methods can show us numerical patterns, what about our personal lived experiences? How do we go about researching them, and what can they tell us about the ways we communicate?
Qualitative research methodologies draw much of their approach from the social sciences, particularly the fields of Anthropology, Sociology, and Social-Psychology. Rather than statistically analyzing data, or evaluating and critiquing messages, qualitative researchers are interested in understanding the subjective lived-experience of those they study. In other words, how can we come to a more rich understanding of how people communicate?
Steps for Doing Qualitative Research Qualitative approaches break from traditional research ideals developed in the physical sciences. As a result, the steps for conducting qualitative research vary from the seven basic steps outlined above.
Planning is the first step for qualitative research. You might want to study the communication of registered nurses. Getting in is the second step of qualitative research Lindlof. Because qualitative research usually focuses on human communication in real-world settings, researchers must gain access to the people and contexts they wish to study.
Observing and learning make up the third step of qualitative research. For example, researchers must decide whether or not to reveal themselves to those they are studying. Each of these choices has an impact on the outcomes of the research. Analyze what you have observed. There are exhaustive methods for examining and analyzing qualitative data. Issues of right versus wrong ways of analysis can be addressed by recognizing that the goal of qualitative research is not to generalize findings to everyone, but to share the lived experiences of those who are researched.
Share conclusions of the research. Again, research should be shared with others so they can gain a greater understanding of the lived-experience of those researched. Data collection comes in the form of words or pictures Neuman There are no hard rules for qualitative research. Instead, researchers must make many choices as they engage in this process.
With the move from the industrial age to the information age, many jobs center around the creation and dissemination of information. With so many online options for retrieving information, it is more important to have skills in gathering information rather than memorizing facts and data. As it is vital to be able to access proper information when needed, many universities require a specific amount of research hours for both undergraduate and masters degree programs.
A variety of career opportunities require research experience such as marketing agencies or health industries. What can we learn by using qualitative research methods for studying communication?
Qualitative Communication researchers often believe that quantitative methods do not capture the essence of our lived experience. In other words, it is difficult to quantify everything about our lives and therefore, we need different strategies for understanding our world. Think of the various ways you experience and communicate in your relationships? However, through methods like observation, interviewing, journaling, etc.
Another value of qualitative research is that it resonates with readers who are able to identify with the lived-experiences represented in the research Neuman. Statistical studies often seem detached from how we experience life. This rich description allows us to identify with the communication experiences of others, and learn through this identification.
From understanding to social change, feminist scholars demonstrate the importance of qualitative inquiry for strengthening the body of scholarship in our discipline. While researchers who use quantitative approaches tend to value prediction and control as potential outcomes of their research, those who use qualitative approaches seek greater understanding of human communication phenomena, or evaluate current pragmatic uses of human communication to help identify and change oppressive power structures.
Communication research is important because it focuses on a common goal—to enhance our interactions with others. In this chapter we highlighted how research is done and the basic steps that guide most research projects—identify the topic, write a research question, define key terms, select a methodology, establish a sample, gather and analyze the data, and finally, interpret and share the results. When conducting research, three factors motivate the choices we make: Depending on these factors, research may lead us to greater understanding, allow us to predict or control a communication situation, or create cultural change.
The rhetorical approach evaluates messages in various contexts such as political discourse, art, and popular culture. A variety of methods are available such as neo-aristotelian, fantasy theme, narrative, pentadic, feminist, and ideological criticism. Quantitative methods are characterized by counting phenomena and are useful for predicting communication outcomes or comparing cultures and populations. They include experimental research, surveys, content analysis, and meta-analysis.
This is accomplished through ethnography, focus groups, action research, unobtrusive research, historiography, and case studies. While these approaches share similarities, their focus and specific methods are quite different and produce different outcomes. No research methodology or method is better than another.
Instead, approaches to Communication research simply reveal different aspects of human communication in action. Anderson, James, and Timothy Meyer. Berg, Bruce Lawrence, and Howard Lune. Do not include questions for group discussion when you need individual responses. Once you have an agreement with a community organization, decide how you will recruit participants. One possibility is to conduct your research as part of the group's regularly scheduled meeting.
If you use this alternative, contact members in advance on behalf of the group and ask them to participate. A person from the community group can also ask others to participate. To ensure that participants attend and stay through the whole meeting, let them know in advance that you will be providing refreshments assuming that you are doing so.
The advantages of recruiting participants to a special meeting are: If you recruit participants yourself, you will have more control over what the participants are told about the focus group, and you will be able to screen potential participants to make certain that they fit special intended audience characteristics.
However, recruiting participants takes a significant amount of time, and it is possible that people would be more likely to participate if asked by someone whom they know. If the member organization recruits participants, it is essential that you provide the recruiter with detailed instructions for carrying out the task.
These instructions must include a written description of the focus group topic, which should be read to potential participants verbatim, and a questionnaire to screen participants on relevant criteria. Conduct the Focus Groups. Focus groups typically begin with the moderator welcoming participants and briefing them on the process e. Participants introduce themselves to the group by first name, usually including some information relevant to the topic of discussion e.
Next, the moderator asks a few simple "ice-breaker" questions to help participants get used to the group process and to reduce participant anxiety.
This also helps the moderator develop rapport with the participants. Participants are encouraged to express their views and even disagree with each other about the discussion topics.
The moderator also seeks out opinions from all participants so that all are heard and a few do not dominate the discussion. Near the end of the discussion, the moderator will often give participants an activity or simply excuse him- or herself from the room for a moment to check with the observers and obtain any additional questions. Alternatively or additionally, notes can be sent in to the moderator while the group is in process if the observers would like different questions asked or other changes made to the group.
The easiest and most thorough way to analyze focus groups is by reviewing transcripts, although groups can also be analyzed albeit less thoroughly by reviewing notes taken during the discussion. In many analyses, the goal is to look for general trends and agreement on issues. At the same time, it is important to note divergent opinions. In some instances, the goal is to capture the range of opinions about an issue, rather than to look for evidence of agreement or consensus.
Avoid counting or quantifying types of responses e. Pretesting Messages and Materials. Some commonly used communication research methods, such as central-location intercept interviews and theater tests, are best termed quasi-quantitative.
While these methods are used in situations in which the goal is measurement and typically involve a questionnaire with mostly forced-choice questions, the results cannot be projected to the population as a whole as with true quantitative surveys because of the way in which participants are selected. For centrallocation intercept interviews, the only people who have a chance to participate are those who go to the location where the interviews are being held and who go there during the times they are conducted; this is not a truly representative sample of the intended audience.
For theater tests, the only people who have a chance to participate are those who are recruited for the test, and recruitment does not follow a truly representative sampling design. Quasi-quantitative methods are most often used during Stage 2 to pretest messages and materials. If your intended audience is geographically dispersed or it is difficult for them to get to a central facility, you can use telephone interviews and send participants any materials in advance.
This type of pretest typically resembles an in-depth interviewing project in price and number of interviews, although there may be more closed-ended questions and the question sequence may be adhered to more closely.
If your organization plans to conduct focus groups regularly, consider hiring a skilled, experienced moderator to train your internal staff to moderate focus groups. Using Software to Analyze Qualitative Data If you have conducted a large number of focus groups or interviews with many intended audience subsets-and are interested in analyzing results by different cultural groups, age groups, or economic groups within the overall respondent population-you may want to use computer software to do a comparative analysis of your results.
If your results are from only a few groups, however, computer analysis will be too time consuming to benefit your program. Be sure to supplement computer analysis with "human" analysis, since the strength of qualitative research is that it can uncover unexpected human reactions that software cannot properly capture or weigh. Before you decide to use computer software to analyze your qualitative data, assess the following advantages and drawbacks of this type of analysis.
Central-location intercept interviews consist of stationing interviewers at a point frequented by individuals from your intended audience and asking the individuals to participate in a study. If they agree, they are asked specific screening questions to see whether they fit the study criteria. If so, the interviewer takes them to the interviewing station a quiet spot at a shopping mall or other site , shows the pretest materials, and then administers the pretest questionnaire.
For intercept interviews to be effective, you must obtain results from a minimum of 60 to respondents from each intended audience segment you want to test. Central-location intercept interviews should not be used if respondents must be interviewed in depth or on emotional or sensitive subjects.
The intercept approach also may not be suitable if respondents are likely to be resistant to being interviewed on the spot. In cases in which central-location intercepts will not work well, schedule interviews with respondents instead. The focus group cost estimate in the table assumes that you conduct two groups, each composed of 10 members of the general public.
A group size of 6 to 8 is sometimes preferred, because it is easier to engage all participants in the conversation. This estimate is also based on the assumption that each group session is 2 hours long, is conducted in English, and includes audiotapes.
Staff travel, food for participants, and videotaping are not included. The in-depth interview estimate assumes a total of ten minute interviews conducted in English and audiotaped. Estimated Costs of Central-Location Intercept Interviews, The central-location intercept interview cost estimate below assumes that you question respondents from the general population for 15 to 20 minutes each.
Unlike focus groups or in-depth interviews, the questionnaire used in central-location intercept pretesting is highly structured and contains primarily multiple choice or closedended questions to permit quick response. Questions that assess the intended audience's comprehension and perceptions of the pretest materials form the core of the questionnaire. The questionnaire should be pretested before it is used in the field. See Appendix A for a sample questionnaire. You can also conduct these interviews in clinic waiting rooms, religious institutions, Social Security offices, schools, work sites, train stations, and other locations frequented by members of your intended audience.
Be sure to obtain permission well in advance of the time you want to set up interviewing stations in these locations. If you are using a market research organization to conduct the interviews, you will need to provide screening criteria, test materials, and the questionnaire. In some cases, market research organizations have offices in shopping malls, and you can watch the testing through a one-way mirror.
If you or someone in your organization is recruiting the participants, you will need to develop a script and provide training in approaching members of the intended audience. For example, if you are recruiting participants in a clinic waiting room, the interviewer should be familiar with the screening criteria e. When, after screening, individuals do not qualify to participate, the interviewer should thank them for their time and indicate that this study is not the right fit for them but that their willingness to participate is appreciated.
If they do qualify, the interviewer can bring them to a designated location e. University and college departments of marketing, communication, or health education may be able to provide interviewer training or trained student interviewers. However, this approach may mean that it takes longer to accomplish the research, and you could compromise the quality of the results if the individuals are not experienced in this type of research.
Theater testing is often used in the commercial arena to test advertisements for products and services. Theater testing can also be used to test the effectiveness of PSAs. In this methodology, participants are invited to a central location to respond to a pilot for a new television show; in the midst of viewing the TV pilot, they are shown your PSA or advertisement along with other ads.
Participants complete a questionnaire following the presentation, first answering questions about the show and then answering questions about how effectively your message was communicated to them and what their overall reactions were. Individuals typical of your intended audience are invited to a conveniently located meeting room.
The room should be set up for screening a television program. Participants should not be told the real purpose of the session, only that their reactions to a television program are being sought. At the session, participants watch a television program. The program can be any entertaining, nonhealth video approximately 15 to 30 minutes in length.
The videotape is interrupted about halfway through by a sequence of four commercials. Your message should be inserted between the second and third commercials. See Appendix A for a description of how to create a roughcut video for theater-testing your message. At the end of the program, participants receive a questionnaire and answer questions designed to gauge their reactions, first to the program and then to the advertisements.
Finally, your ad is played again and participants complete several questions about your ad. The majority of these questions should be closed-ended to enable an easy and accurate summary of participant responses.
In more sophisticated theater testing, participants use automated intended audience response systems to answer questions. Participants are provided with a small device that has response keys.
Once a question is asked, they push a key to respond and the data are automatically tabulated. You have instant access to the numbers using this system.
In addition, questions can be instantly added or deleted from the questionnaire based on the previous responses. Using an automated system is much more costly than using a standard paper-and-pencil questionnaire. This methodology can also be used to test videos by asking participants to view a series of videos in which yours has been included.
Examples of videos that might be tested include a to minute breast cancer awareness video that will be played in a clinic or a "how-to" video on administering epinephrine. These testing sessions will, of course, last longer than those testing ads. Participants evaluate the videos as described above. Print advertisements can also be tested using a variation of this methodology. Several ads, including yours, are inserted into a magazine.
Participants are given an adequate amount of time to read through the article, which includes your ad and others. After reading the article, participants receive a questionnaire and answer questions designed to gauge their reactions, first to the article and then to the advertisements.
Finally, your ad is displayed alone and participants complete several additional questions. To conduct theater testing, you must have a large enough space to accommodate all of your participants at the same time.
You must also ensure that you have several video monitors so that all participants can adequately view the program. Space constraints may be overcome by seeking out low-cost facilities such as a school auditorium or church hall. You may be able to borrow the audiovisual equipment from these facilities as well. You can also rent space, such as a hotel ballroom, if you want to test a large number of people. Hotels often rent audiovisual equipment as well. Reserve facilities and equipment well in advance of your pretest.
To gather useful information from the pretest, you must carefully construct the questionnaire. See the sidebar Components Used in Most Questionnaires on the next page for general guidelines. Once you have written your questionnaire, be sure to test and revise it before you use it with a large number of respondents. Participants may be recruited through a market research facility or through local community organizations.
In either case, you will need to provide an incentive for participants. If using a market research facility, you will also incur recruiting expenses. If you are working with a community organization, you may choose to make a donation. Program Questions Program questions elicit general intended audience reactions to the program viewed. These standard questions should be inorganizationald into the pretest for several reasons.
If you test many ads and always use the same questions, you can develop a database of results to allow you to assess the relative strength of various ads. Specific intended audience Reaction Questions These provide answers to specific questions you have about your message.
Develop questions that address specific concerns you have about your message. For example, suppose your message asks viewers to call a toll-free number for more information.
You may want to include a question that asks, "What action, if any, does the message ask you to take? It is best to develop one or more questions addressing each characteristic of your message. The list below includes various characteristics commonly found in messages. Note the characteristics that apply to your test message and then develop questions that focus on those characteristics. See Part III of the sample in Appendix A for examples of questions you can use for each message characteristic listed above.
These questions are just examples and should be adapted to your needs. Remember that the objective of pretesting is to uncover any problems with your ad before final production. Demographic Questions These questions help to record the characteristics of the participants e.
Once you have written your questionnaire, be sure to test it before you use it with a large number of respondents.
After any necessary revisions, you are ready to make copies for the pretest participants. You will need a cover page that instructs participants not to open their questionnaires until they are asked to do so by the meeting host. Place a cover sheet between each part of the questionnaire and instruct participants not to continue until they are asked to do so by the meeting host. Prepare for the Pretest. The test session should take no more than 1 hour and 15 minutes if you are organized and well prepared.
Follow the steps below to conduct your test: Use your answers to these questions to decide whether your message is both effective and appropriate and whether you need to revise your message prior to program implementation. Other tools you can use to evaluate your program are diaries and activity logs. If you plan to use these tools to gauge the quality of program planning or execution, be sure to start keeping the diaries and activity logs as soon as you begin program planning.
For each activity, request information in a specific format from program managers or participants. This information may cover issues such as the quality of program components or track how your intended audience uses the components. Steps in instituting the keeping of diaries and activity logs are: Follow the steps below to institute the keeping of diaries and activity logs. The sample you select depends on the goals of your study. In this case, you may have some control over the quality of responses you receive.
You should provide an estimate of the amount of time and effort participation will entail e. This will help to ensure cooperation during the study. See the sample log in Appendix A. In addition, you should provide detailed, written instructions for future reference.
These instructions can be used in lieu of training if you cannot physically get to the study site. In this case, you will have much less control over the quality and quantity of responses. Obtaining cooperation from participants may also be more difficult in this situation. For example, people attending an educational program on nutrition might be recruited to complete a diary of what they eat for a week and send it back to the researchers. You will likely need to provide an incentive e.
Write questions that are specific to your study objectives. Examples of the types of information you might collect include: Describe the scenario for them before the pretest. For example, in the case of a hotline, you might say, "You are an operator on a hotline. People will be calling in, and you will need to fill out this activity log as you complete each call.
Do not correct them if they do not say what you intended. Revise questions that people found confusing during the pretest.
If a question was confusing only to one person, use your judgment to decide whether to change the question. Ask yourself whether there is something you can easily fix that would have helped that one person understand the question e. If so, you may be able to make a simple change or addition to clarify the question.
Also consider whether this respondent found many of the questions confusing while other respondents had no problem with them. If this is the case, you may not want to make changes. You will have to decide on a case-by-case basis. If your study is longer than a week or two, you may want to ask respondents to ship the first week of data to you so that you can review the logs for accuracy and completeness and even begin to tally some of the information.
In the planning phase, you determined what you wanted to learn from the study. Diaries generally contain qualitative information e. The best way to analyze qualitative information is to read through the information, searching for similarities and differences between diaries. You will need to consider all of the questions that you determined were important in the planning phase.
Once you have reviewed several diaries, you should be able to pull out general themes or patterns from the information. The best way to analyze these themes is to develop categories for the responses. For example, if you want to know why teachers thought their students liked or disliked a certain educational module in your program, you might group responses into categories such as "challenging," "fun," "too much work," "boring.
As you go along, you may come up with additional categories or decide to collapse several categories together. You can certainly make inferences e. The easiest way to analyze these types of responses is to create a coding sheet for each quantitative question. Use a separate sheet for each question, writing the question at the top and creating columns for each possible response.
For example, for a question about how many people picked up particular brochures, you could create columns for the following categories: Use quantitative research methods during the following parts of your program: Two different quantitative research methods, surveying and readability testing, can be used. Surveys are characterized by large numbers of respondents or more and questionnaires that contain predominantly forced-choice closed-ended questions. Used in planning and assessment to obtain baseline and tracking information on knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and behavioral intentions.
Most surveys are custom studies that are designed to answer a specific set of research questions. Some surveys, however, are omnibus studies, in which you add questions about your topic to an already existing survey. A number of national and local public opinion polls offer this option.
Sampling size and composition, questionnaire design, and analysis of quantitative data are complex topics beyond the scope of this book. If you are planning a quantitative study, see the reference list at the end of this book for additional information. Public and patient education materials are often routed to their intended audiences through health professionals or other individuals or organizations that can communicate with these audiences for you.
These intermediaries act as gatekeepers, controlling the distribution channels that reach your intended audiences. If they do not like a poster or a booklet or do not believe it to be credible or scientifically accurate, it may never reach your intended audience. Gatekeeper review of rough materials is important and should be considered part of the pretesting process, although it is not a substitute for pretesting materials with intended audience members.
Neither is it a substitute for obtaining clearances or expert review for technical accuracy; these should be completed before pretesting is undertaken. Sometimes, telling gatekeepers that technical experts have reviewed the material for accuracy will reassure them and may speed their approval of your material.
The methodology you should use for gatekeeper review depends upon your available resources, time, and budget. If you are not using a questionnaire, consider in advance what kind of questions you want to ask in the meeting or interview and determine whether you need formal approval of the materials. A discussion with gatekeepers e. Readability formulas often are used to assess the reading level of materials.
Applying these formulas is a simple process that can be done manually or by using a computer software program. Each method takes only a few minutes. Typically, readability formulas measure the difficulty of the vocabulary used and the average sentence length. Readability software programs are available at computer stores.
Some software programs, such as Microsoft Word, include a readability-testing function. Mention of software products does not constitute an endorsement by the National Cancer Institute. Researchers James Pichert and Peggy Elam suggest three principles for using readability formulas effectively: Then use readability testing to determine whether your text corresponds to the reading level you want.
The term reading level refers to the number of years of education required for a reader to understand a written passage. Some experts suggest aiming for a level that is two to five grades lower than the highest average grade level of your intended audience to account for a probable decline in reading skills over time. Others note that a third- to fifth-grade level is frequently appropriate for low-literacy readers.
Keep publications as simple as possible to increase reader comprehension of the material. These tests can be done quickly to indicate any problems with the drafted text.
They do not involve the intended audience. To calculate the SMOG reading grade level of a written sample, begin with the entire written work that is being assessed, and follow these four steps: A few additional guidelines will help to clarify these instructions: Not all pamphlets, fact sheets, or other printed materials contain 30 sentences.
To test a text that has fewer than 30 sentences: Simply count the number of polysyllabic words in 30 sentences chains of 10 each from the beginning, middle, and end of the text and look up the approximate grade level on the chart.
In the sidebar, each of the 3 sets of 10 sentences is marked with brackets. Other methods of evaluating reading levels and comprehension include having your intended audience pretest your materials.
These types of testing are useful when you suspect that the intended audience may encounter difficulties with the material. Including pretest participants who have the same characteristics as the lowliteracy intended audience you are trying to reach is critical to the validity of your pretest results. Recruiting participants through groups or settings that include people with limited literacy skills is a logical starting point.
But the only way to be sure your pretest volunteers read at the same level as your intended audience is to test their reading skills. To avoid offending or causing discomfort to those whose reading ability you are testing, you can integrate a WRAT or a Cloze test into the pretest interview. For example, in a recent pretest conducted by the National Cancer Institute, the interviewers introduced the WRAT test as the last part of the pretest.
They stated, "Thank you for helping with the questions on the chemotherapy booklet. This will take only a few minutes. The word list will help us understand how difficult the words are in the chemotherapy booklet.
The WRAT is based on word recognition and does not measure comprehension or vocabulary. The WRAT is an efficient way to determine reading levels and takes only a short time to administer.
The handbook of media and communication research qualitative and quantitative methodologies. 2nd ed. London ; New York: Routledge. (Ebook Central) The handbook of media audiences (). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. The Handbook of media and communication research: Qualitative and quantitative methodologies. (). (2nd ed.).
Media and Communication Research Methods, Fourth Edition is a concise and practical text designed to give students a step-by-step introduction to conducting media and communication research. Offering real-world insights along with the author’s signature animated style, this text makes the discussion of complex qualitative and quantitative .
This section describes communication research methods commonly used throughout program planning. See the chart Types of Research and Evaluation for more detail about research conducted in each of the stages of health communication program planning. Most programs use more than one research method. maden.ga: communications research methods. Interesting Finds Updated Daily. Amazon Try Prime All Go. Search EN Hello. Sign in Account & Lists Sign in Account & Lists Orders Try Prime Cart 0. Your maden.ga Today's.
Learn communications research methods with free interactive flashcards. Choose from different sets of communications research methods flashcards on Quizlet. Learn communication research methods with free interactive flashcards. Choose from different sets of communication research methods flashcards on Quizlet.