[Air-l] air-l Digest, Vol 23, Issue 8

David Palfreyman David.Palfreyman at zu.ac.ae
Thu Jun 8 18:11:27 PDT 2006

Hello all,

I'm supervising a doctoral candidate at an early stage who has started
experimenting with e-mail elicitation of data from students at our
university in the United Arab Emirates.  She's researching reading
habits among our 95%-ESL student body, and recently experimented by
sending an e-mail to all students, just saying "Do you like reading?". 
She's had quite a few responses, and is thinking about various aspects
of this data:

1. quantitatively (e.g. how many answer "yes" and how many "no").

2. quantitative data on how many non-responding students open the email
and how many delete it without opening (this information is available at
the click of a mouse to any sender for mails within the university email

3. reasons, examples, etc that students give about reading.

4. assumptions that students seem to make about her question (e.g.
whether they interpret the question as being about reading in their
first language (Arabic) or their second (English)).

5. targeting the responders (and possibly non-responders/deleters) as
interviewees, either by e-mail or through personal contact, as

She's wondering about a) validity issues in e-mail "interview" data, and
b) the potential of such minimal prompts/data for contributing to a
study of an overall aspect of student culture.  I wondered if anyone
could offer ideas/ suggestions/ sources/ experiences in collecting and
using this kind of data (not necessarily online - for example it's
reminiscent of Milgram's "Lost-Letter Technique").



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