Meta-Forms: Creating a Survey of Your Survey

by | October 28, 2011
Category: Blog

As we have been highlighting on this blog, there is a lot more that goes into a survey than writing up questions and then asking people those questions. Surveying requires hiring, training, device selection, translation issues, logistics, and so on and so on, so it only makes sense that a research team should develop “meta-forms” to track, manage, and support all of these other components of their work. They allow for a more systematic way to monitor and adjust every part of our project, and with ODK, we can more easily access and analyze the results.

There are a variety of reasons an organization might develop a form beyond the one being used for research. Reasons include:

Training on ODK. When someone uses ODK Collect for the first time, it is probably a bad idea to give her your long and complex form to flip through. Instead a training form or forms can slowly introduce trainees to different features of ODK (skip logic, picture, GPS, etc.) without overwhelming them.

Controlling Quality. Given all the things that could go wrong with a device each day, it is wise to check that the devices are functioning properly. A simple test form submitted each morning before enumerators begin their trainings will go a long way.

Getting Feedback. Ideally everyone involved in your data collection is comfortable discussing the challenges they are facing and the issues that are frustrating them, but this is not always the case. Meta-forms that assess employee satisfaction can provide an anonymous outlet for enumerators to share and give suggestions.

Piloting Hardware. Very often organizations test out the benefits of ICT using a pilot, testing out what works and how well. Meta-forms can be used to track these experiences. For example, a meta-form might capture the battery life remaining in each device at the end of the day, or gauge enumerators’ device preferences.

Our Downloadable Forms
(N.B. Right click on linked files, then select “Save file as…” to save)
Battery Life. (xml, xls) To measure the battery life of each device at the end of the day. We were tracking battery life to vet new devices. Used daily.
Enumerator Training Experience. (xml, xls) To gauge the enumerators’ experiences with our training. Used at the end of training.
Enumerator Weekly. (xml, xls) To gauge enumerator sentiment, capture anonymous discontent, etc. Used weekly.
Training Practice Survey. (xml, xls) Survey used during training to familiarize our enumerators with ODK. Used during training.

Fast Download: All files saved together in zipped folder.

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