University of Wisconsin–Madison

UWSC (Re)presenting at MAPOR

John Stevenson, Jennifer Dykema, Nora Cate Schaeffer, and Vicki Lein will represent the University of Wisconsin Survey Center at the 2018 Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research (MAPOR) Annual Conference in Chicago this month. The theme for this year’s conference is “Embracing a Diverse Future in Public Opinion Research” and UWSC will be participating in several capacities at the conference.

At UWSC, we continue to experiment with methods to increase response rates and improve data quality. We know that including an incentive like a $2 bill with the questionnaire in the first mailing of a mail survey increases participation — but can we continue to increase response rates by sending nonresponders another incentive? And can we use incentives to encourage people to read the letters we send?

To answer these questions, Vicki, Jen, and John conducted an experiment with longtime UWSC client and former steering committee member, Dr. Mark Rickingbach, in which initial nonresponders of a mail survey about forestry either received a second incentive or no incentive and received different messages about why their participation is important. They will report on how these factors affected participation at this year’s MAPOR conference and hope to present the results at an upcoming UWSC brown bag session. This will be Vicki’s first time attending and presenting at MAPOR.

In another presentation, Jen, Nora, and other colleagues will present work that looks at different patterns of interaction between respondents and interviewers from the Voices Heard telephone survey.

We know from past research that different behaviors produced by respondents, like providing answers that are not codable, are associated with measurement error. We will see how these different behaviors vary depending on the race/ethnicity of the respondents and whether the questions are racially focused or not.

Preliminary analyses indicate a complicated set of results in which white respondents produce more behaviors that indicate cognitive processing problems for racially focused questions, which may be interpreted as demonstrating a “cultural” difference in the display of cognitive processing and interaction.

Nora Cate will serve on a panel lead by Dana Garbarski from Loyola University Chicago on
Women and Leadership in Public Opinion and Survey Research. According to MAPOR’s program, the panelists will discuss “women and leadership in public opinion and survey research, including paths to leadership, approaches to leadership, the dynamics of gender and leadership in our various fields, and where leadership in these fields is going in the future.”

As the 2017 MAPOR Fellow, John has the distinguished honor of handling and presenting the awards for the Student Paper Competition: one for methods work and one for substantive or theoretical work in public opinion. Papers were submitted by students enrolled in graduate or undergraduate programs at the time of the conference.