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COMU2030 COMMUNICATION RESEARCH METHODS

Assessment 3: Survey research project and report

Due: 24th May, 4pm

Weighting: 40%

Word length: 1500 words (+/- 10%)

The aim of the assessment is:

1)  to help you develop a deeper understanding of the research process by conducting a small survey research project.

2)  to provide you with experience in constructing a questionnaire survey.

3)  to develop basic skills in quantitative and qualitative analysis.

4)  to provide practice in writing about research for professional/lay audiences.

Here is the scenario: Imagine you are working with an organisation that has tasked your team with administering a survey to find out more about a specific audience of interest.

You are required to work in groups (preferably of 4 or 5 students per group) to undertake the survey research project. You will then write a report about the research project. Each group member will submit an individual research report (that has been   written without collaboration with other group members).

Research project (Group work)

Step 1: Choose an organisational research need

You will be presented with a number of scenarios of organisational research needs in the tutorials. You can choose one of these scenarios or you can come up with your own scenario (and have this approved by your tutor). In the example assignment, the Queensland Youth Environmental Council asked our team to find out about young people’sviews on environmental issues.

Step 2: Develop a research question

You first need to develop a research question/s. You can have one or more descriptive research questions, although this is not mandatory. For example, “What are the levels of climate change knowledge, climate change concern, and pro-environmental behaviours of young Queenslanders?”

You must have at least one research question that is about the relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable. The easiest way to do this is to develop a research question that involves comparing different groups in society on key outcome variables. For example, “Do male vs. females differ in terms of their climate change knowledge, climate change concern and pro-environmental behaviours?” . In this example, gender is the independent variable and climate change knowledge, concern and pro- environmental behaviours are the dependent variables. Another example is, “Do young people in South-East Queensland differ in their climate change knowledge, climate change concern and pro-environmental behaviours compared to young people in the rest of Queensland?” Here, region is the independent variable; climate change knowledge and concern are the dependent variables.

Other groups that you might want to compare are people under 30 vs those over 30, those who are high social media users vs those who are low social media users, international students vs domestic students, etc. Your choice of comparison should make sense given the research context, as you will need to justify your choice in your report.

Step 3: Design a questionnaire survey

You will then design a brief survey to assess the research question/s. The survey must include a participant information sheet and it must appropriately assess the independent and the dependent variable/s. You should draw on past research to identify measures of your variables rather than creating the questions yourself. The survey must include at least one open-ended question that allows you to conduct thematic analysis of the answers (we will cover how to do this in tutorials). An example open-ended question is: “What factors would make it  more likely for you to engage in behaviours that help to protect the environment?” .  A popular free platform. that people use to program surveys is Google forms.

Step 4: Collect data

As this is anun-resourced project, you will use convenience sampling to recruit your sample. You should aim for a minimum of 25 respondents in each group but if you can recruit more,  great! If you use Google forms, the data is automatically transferred to a Google Sheet (essentially an Excel spreadsheet).

Step 5: Analyse the data

Only basic descriptive statistics are required, for example, percentage responses of the groups you are comparing on the key dependent variables. We will focus on how to do your analyses in the tutorials. You can collaborate as a group on doing the analysis (but as noted above, your write-up of the results in the report must be done individually). The visualisation of the data to be included in the report should be done by the individual students rather than produced as a group.

Research report (Individual work)

The second part of the assignment requires you to write an individual report of the research project for the scenario organisation. The report should include the following information and should be structured in the following way:

•   Title

o You need to give your project a title and use this at the top of the report. The title should clearly communicate what the research is about.

•   Background section

o In this section you briefly introduce the research project in one paragraph. You need to say why the research is important, state the research aims (i.e., to answer your research questions), who the sample was, who the research was conducted for.

•   Results

o Report the results of the research, presenting the quantitative results first. You need to describe the main findings from your questionnaire survey in away that addresses your research questions/aims. You MUST also visually present your data, for example, through the use of graphs and/or tables. DO NOT use pie charts.

o The qualitative results should be presented after the quantitative results. You  need to thematically analyse the responses to the open-ended survey question and report on the key themes emerging from the responses. Ideally you will supplement the reporting of themes visually (e.g., through visual icons or a word cloud).

•   Implications

o This section should acknowledge any limitations of the research and then list key recommendations that are suggested by the research findings. The recommendations should be relevant to the scenario organisation. You should also cite any other research that supports your recommendations (see example assignment for how to do this).

•   Research sample and method

o After these main sections of the research, you will then provide detail on the survey participant sample, how the sample was recruited and the ethical conduct of the research (see example report).

•   References

o The final section of the report is your reference section which should include all references cited in the report. You should use APA 7th  formatting for all references cited in the report and in the reference section.

•   Appendix: Survey questionnaire

o The survey questionnaire should then be included as an appendix. Note that

this appendix does not count toward your word count. You need to also include an attribution for where the questions are taken from. Remember that it is important, wherever possible, to use survey measures that have been trialled in previous research. You should therefore state where the questions you’ve used to measure each variable have been taken from, that is, cite the research paper  or papers that used them.

General guidelines

•   This assignment is what researchers call an ‘industry report ’. For this reason, it should  be written in way that can be understood by an educated lay audience. You should also aim to make it as visually appealing as possible.

•   You should reference a minimum of five scholarly peer-reviewed sources in the report.

Generative AI

There is no doubt that generative AI is being used and will be used in the future to help researchers. You can use generative AI to help with elements of this assignment (e.g., generating ideas for research questions), although if the use of AI introduces errors or poor work then your mark will suffer. An organisation would not expect to get a report that was written by generative AI; therefore, the report should be your own work. Any use of generative AI in the assignment should be noted. Include this attribution (what element you used generative AI for) just before the Reference section.  If you have not used generative AI for any aspect of the report, then you should also state this.

An example assignment will be posted in the Assignment 2 folder on Blackboard. The marking criteria for the assignment are attached.


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