Quantitative data collection and analysis

The BeLL survey data collection process included the following stages:

  1. Construction of the pilot version of the questionnaire (Spring 2012);
  2. Translation of the pilot version into national languages;
  3. Piloting of the questionnaire (May 2012);
  4. Project meeting on piloting results (June 2012);
  5. Modifications in the questionnaire (July–September 2012);
  6. Production of the final BeLLQ questionnaire (paper and web versions in national languages);
  7. Data collection (from September 2012 to June 2013).

Construction of the questionnaire in itself is a demanding task, and in a comparative study like BeLL extra caution had to be used when different language versions were developed. Cultural differences were taken into account, as well as different meanings of the concepts in different languages. BeLL survey data consist of adult learners, who have participated at least one liberal adult education course during the past 12 months, and have received the paper questionnaire or link to web questionnaire. The target was to collect 1000 questionnaires per country, a total of 10.000 respondents. The data collection in itself was conducted using both paper and online questionnaires. Paper versions in all 10 languages (+ Italian version for Swiss Italian speaking part of the country) were edited by DIE to follow the same BeLL layout. Identical web questionnaires for all languages were created by UEF. Paper and web questionnaires were used for various reasons. These both versions have advantages and disadvantages, and the idea was to provide an alternative for training organizations and respondents to choose from. Web version was the main data collection method (objective to collect 70-80% of the questionnaires), and paper questionnaire was the additional method (objective 20 – 30% of the questionnaires).

The sampling method (how the respondents were selected) was a modified ”stratified sampling” targeting adult learners in liberal adult education organizations (see http://www.statpac.com/surveys/sampling.htm). It was not possible to use random sampling (of all adults), because the BeLL survey is targeted to adults, who have participated in liberal adult education courses during the past 12 months. It was evident that only way to collect that kind of data was to contact (1) liberal adult education providers and ask them to deliver questionnaires to their students or (2) adult learners themselves directly.

Distribution of paper questionnaires was based according to country specific sample plans (see below) and the following methods:

  • Taking questionnaires into a learning group, introduction face-to-face and collecting back questionnaires
  • Asking trainers or administrative staff to do the same
  • Asking organizations to distribute questionnaires to individual adults and to organize collection of questionnaires

Distribution of web questionnaire links was conducted in the following ways:

  • Motivational letter with web link (traditional paper letter or email) was sent directly to learners or by using organizations’ email lists
  • ”Poster” advertising BeLL survey (paper version on notice boards, web versions on web sites with link to survey)
  • Asking national liberal adult education umbrella organizations and training organizations for help with distribution of information

At the end of the data collection process the number of respondents was 8894, with the following national numbers:

Country n
Slovenia 1076
Czech Republic 1006
Finland 1293
Spain 930
UK 739
Italy 562
Switzerland 280
Serbia 1015
Romania 1073
Germany 920
Total 8894