Data Collection Techniques

Data Collection Techniques

Information you gather can come from a range of sources. Likewise, there are a variety of techniques to use when gathering primary data. Listed below are some of the most common data collection techniques.

Click the following links to read more about data collection techniques: 


Overview Of Different Data Collection Techniques 


Key Facts



  • Interviews can be conducted in person or over the telephone
  • Interviews can be done formally (structured), semi-structured, or informally
  • Questions should be focused, clear, and encourage open-ended responses
  • Interviews are mainly qualitative in nature

One-on-one conversation with parent of at-risk youth who can help you understand the issue

Click here to see a sample key informant interview.

Questionnaires and Surveys

  • Responses can be analyzed with quantitative methods by assigning numerical values to Likert-type scales
  • Results are generally easier (than qualitative techniques) to analyze
  • Pretest/Posttest can be compared and analyzed

Results of a satisfaction survey or opinion survey

Click here to see an example of a survey created using the CYFERnetSEARCH Interactive Survey Builder feature.

Click here to see a sample survey on middle school youth risk behavior.


  • Allows for the study of the dynamics of a situation, frequency counts of target behaviors, or other behaviors as indicated by needs of the evaluation
  • Good source for providing additional information about a particular group, can use video to provide documentation
  • Can produce qualitative (e.g., narrative data) and quantitative data (e.g., frequency counts, mean length of interactions, and instructional time)


Site visits to an after-school program to document the interaction between youth and staff within the program

Focus Groups

  • A facilitated group interview with individuals that have something in common
  • Gathers information about combined perspectives and opinions
  • Responses are often coded into categories and analyzed thematically

A group of parents of teenagers in an after-school program are invited to informally discuss programs that might benefit and help their children succeed

Ethnographies, Oral History, and Case Studies

  • Involves studying a single phenomenon
  • Examines people in their natural settings
  • Uses a combination of techniques such as observation, interviews, and surveys
  • Ethnography is a more holistic approach to evaluation
  • Researcher can become a confounding variable

Shadowing a family while recording extensive field notes to study the experience and issues associated with youth who have a parent or guardian that has been deployed

Click here for an example of an oral history.  

Click here for an additional example of an oral history.

Documents and Records

  • Consists of examining existing data in the form of databases, meeting minutes, reports, attendance logs, financial records, newsletters, etc.
  • This can be an inexpensive way to gather information but may be an incomplete data source

To understand the primary reasons students miss school, records on student absences are collected and analyzed

Click here for an example of a searchable database of aggregate data on youth risk behavior.



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