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Response Quality and Demographic Characteristics of Respondents Using a Mobile Device on a Web-based Survey

By Kevin R. Guidry


As quickly as the Internet grew throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the growth of devices such as smartphones and tablets that allow one to access the Internet while mobile has been even more explosive. Given their increasing popularity and the conveniences they offer, it is no surprise that people are using these mobile devices to participate in Web-based surveys, even when those surveys have not been optimized for those devices. It is important that we understand the impact of mobile Internet access on Web surveys, particularly as we uncover who is using mobile devices to participate in Web surveys and the relative quality of their responses. This study uses data from the 2011 administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), a survey of undergraduate college and university students in the U.S. and Canada. Server-side paradata were used to classify the 414,056 respondents in this study’s sample to (a) determine the demographic characteristics of respondents who exclusively used a smartphone or tablet and (b) compare the quality of their responses to those provided by other respondents using indicators such as survey abandonment, item non-response, and response differentiation. Results of the study were mixed, indicating that mobile device users do not necessarily provide responses of lower quality even when responding to a Web-based survey tha

Year: 2013
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