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  • Writer's pictureLorina MacLeod

Data Literacy Considerations for Data Collection: 2 Key Takeaways.

Following best practices in data collection and interpretation are strong contributors to data literacy. Data literacy is a skillset that allows individuals to collect high-quality data, understand it in-depth, and communicate what the data shows. Cultivating a data literate approach is crucial, especially for organization that may not have a data-specific roles. With this in mind, we recently held a workshop with the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation(BCCIC) to share practical tips around carrying out survey projects and growing in data literacy. During the workshop, two key points focusing on data collection emerged.

Be Prepared to Navigate Data Collection Challenges

Collecting reliable data is an important part of ensuring that the project leads to truly actionable results. Ahead of the data collection tasks, think about what challenges are attached to collecting data from your particular audience and how to solve them. Often, online surveys are the simplest to implement – but if participants are located in an area with an unreliable internet connection, this is often quite difficult. Our past solutions have include SMS Surveys, asking questions and allowing participants to respond in a series of texts. If an organization is taking this route, it is important that they follow the relevant steps in their country to clear the campaign for launch to confirm that it is not spam.  

Design the Right Open-Ended Questions

Qualitative questions offer a lot of opportunity for understanding audiences. As Kai Analytics Founder and CEO, Kevin Chang, shared during the workshop: “Language is still an art. Art is inherently human. We are still in control of how we express ourselves, our needs and desires.” Because of the intricacy of language, it's important to word questions clearly to receive the most relevant possible answers from participants. For example, one question we encountered in our work was:

“Do you have any specific feedback or suggestions about changes that would improve your satisfaction?”

This was overall a good question, but it was longer than it needed to be and lacked specificity. Instead, we changed it to:

“What is one change that we could make to improve your satisfaction?”

In addition to being shorter and more readable, this question helped respondents prioritize their answers – they are more likely speak to the one issue that is most important to them, which will simplify the analysis as well.

Final Thoughts

As our team has over 15 years of experience carrying out surveys, we were happy to have this opportunity to share some of these practical tips and tricks that we use every day in our work. We’ve carried out surveys for numerous audiences – employees, grant recipients, customers, community members, and the general public – and have garnered a rich appreciated for how to carefully adjust each survey to collect data in a thoughtful way that produces statistically valid while protecting participants from the harm that comes when data is misused. We hope everyone interested in carrying out surveys takes some time to understand these nuances and seek guidance to implement the survey effectively.



If learning more about data literacy intrigues you, you might enjoy our newsletter. It’s a monthly email that keeps you up to date on what we’re up to and shares articles on topics we find interesting.

If you're thinking of implementing a survey for your organization or already run surveys and are encountering situations like this, sign up for a free, 30-minute consultation to find out what Kai Analytics can do for you.


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