Enumerator Training

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By the end of the Enumerator Training, all field staff should be familiar with the Survey Protocols and all survey instruments. Always train more enumerators than will be required for the field work, and at the end of the training select the best enumerators for the data collection. The duration and structure of the training will depend on the complexity and length of the survey. The training of all enumerators and supervisors is an extremely important part of the survey, and should be planned well in advance. Each project will have slightly different training requirements but should cover each of the following topics in detail: project overview, core modules, interviewing skills, and using tablets, among others.

Research standards and confidentiality

The scientific approach

The first, and foremost, of the qualities of a good survey team is a commitment to the scientific method. A scientific method is the standard approach for such surveys and in order to produce concrete, defensible and valuable results, this method must be applied. Enumerators must be instructed on what the scientific approach means for them: that they are committed to identifying the true situation on the ground, not one that seems to be real but rather arises from errors in the way we have measured opinions.

The only way that a comparison between organisations is valid is to use the same survey method for all respondents. This means:

  • Introducing the process in the same way in each organization
  • Making people feel equally comfortable that the process is anonymous
  • Making people feel that their responses will be confidential
  • Giving each group roughly the same amount of time to fill in the questionnaire
  • Guiding the discussion session in a similar way
  • Collecting and filing all the questionnaires systematically

If we deviate from this approach, for example by treating one group differently to all the others, we won’t be able to tell if the differences between that group and the others are down to actual differences or just responses to our differential treatments.

To standardise responses to any eventuality that may arise during the interview process, it is advisable to write a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ (FAQ) document which all enumerators can refer to.

Clearly, there will be times when the situation deviates from a perfect replication of all other interviews and will not correspond to any items on the FAQs. To ensure that this is accounted for, enumerators should be able to discuss aspects of the methodology of the project, so it is advisable to include this in the training.

Confidentiality and anonymity

One of the key selling points of the interview for many respondents will be a commitment to anonymizing all interviews and safeguarding respondents’ confidentiality. The tablet goes a long way in helping enumerators achieve this through the use of de-identified IDs, however enumerators must ensure all interactions with respondents adhere to the strictest degree of confidentiality. This entails:

  • Holding all opinions, claims, and other features that can be associated with individuals (confidential information in trust and confidence)
  • Using such confidential information only for the purposes set out in the training, and for any other purpose, or disclosed to any third party
  • Not to copy or retain any written information or record that could be associated with identifying features of individuals, or identifying features of any sort, outside the survey team’s own collections.
  • At the conclusion of the surveys, or upon demand by the survey team, all confidential information, including questionnaires, written notes, photographs, memoranda or other types of notes taken to be returned to the survey team.
  • Confidential information is not to be disclosed to any employee, consultant or third party unless it has been approved by the survey team.

Interview practice and pilot interviews/ field testing

Before going out in the field it is imperative that all enumerators practice interviewing at least twice, both as a way to familiarize themselves with the questionnaire and to receive feedback on their interviewing (and scoring if applicable) by the trainers and Field Coordinator. It is normal for the first few interviews conducted by each enumerator will be of a lesser quality, so it is important that these can be discarded as ‘practice’ and not used as part of the dataset.

Practice interviews can take the following forms:

  • Team exercises: practicing sections of the questionnaire in pairs or groups
  • Mock interviews: conducting group mock interviews with a trainer and holding discussion sessions afterwards
  • Pilot interviews: interviews with civil servants, not to be included in the dataset. To be conducted in pairs or groups in order to encourage feedback on interviewing and scoring

Enumerator Manual

The Enumerator Manual should form the basis for the enumerator training. It is designed as a resource for field teams to consult as questions or issues arise during data collection. The manual should include the following:

  1. Brief overview of study objectives
  2. All Survey Protocols
  3. Roles and responsibilities of field staff
  4. Definitions of key terms
  5. Instructions for using (and troubleshooting) tablets
  6. Questionnaire conventions
  7. Module-by-module description of Questionnaire Content
  8. 'Frequently Asked Questions' (FAQs)

The Enumerator Manual is typically developed by the Field Coordinator, with input from the research team and the survey firm (or other data collection partner).

Training Guidelines: Content and Structure

Guidelines for training content and structure can be found in the Training Guidelines: Content and Structure sub-article.

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This article is part of the topic Primary Data Collection

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