Saturday, November 12
Questionnaire Design
Sat, Nov 12, 9:00 AM - 10:25 AM
Hibiscus B
Adapting for the Web

Designing Event-History Calendars for Web Surveys: Evidence from Two UK Longitudinal Studies (303602)

*Matt Brown, University College London 
Lisa Calderwood, University College London 

Keywords: event history calendars, web surveys, longitudinal surveys

The collection of ‘event histories’ where respondents are asked to report changes in their lives which occur between interviews is of central importance to longitudinal studies. Previous evidence suggests that the use of event history calendars can increase the quality of reporting of events, relative to standard questionnaire approaches, particularly when reference periods are relatively long. Event history calendars can encourage parallel cueing, whereby the recollection of events in one domain of life can help to trigger the recollection of events in other domains.

There has been positive feedback from participants about the use of EHCs in face-to-face interviews. However, little information has been published to date regarding whether EHCs are effective prompts in a web based context and on how to design EHCs for web surveys. One major challenge when designing EHCs is how to present complex historical information. In a web based context design is especially important, as no interviewer is present to explain the purpose of the calendar and how it can be used as an aid to recall. However, the web also presents opportunities to enhance the visual design and functionality of EHCs.

This paper will describe the development, testing and design of a web-based EHC on two national birth cohort studies in the UK: Next Steps (previously known as the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England or LSYPE) and the 1958 British Cohort Study (National Child Development Study or NCDS). In Next Steps, participants were aged 25 when asked to complete the web survey, whereas in NCDS they were aged 55. In particular, we will describe how the findings from usability testing fed into the EHC design and demonstrate key design features of the web-based EHCs.