Andy Rhodes Student Ministry Essentials Reading Report #1 This article is called “Survey says…” and is written by Chris

Wagner. The article is found on the CPYU (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding) web site. The link is www.cpyu.org/Page/aspx?id=84023. Surveys can be useful in getting feedback and suggestions, as well as providing insight on a targeted group of people. But surveys can be difficult to read, inaccurate, misleading, and bias. David Moore and George McCabe (authors of Introduction to the Practice of Statistics) say, “In human populations, even probability samples can suffer from bias due to undercoverage or nonresponse, from response bias due to the behavior of the interviewer or the respondent, or from misleading results due to poorly worded questions.” Wagner says surveys can be a good way to get to know your students better and be able to guide your ministry in more focused ways. He also says to get rid of numbers and make nothing about numbers: even results. But writing your own surveys allows you to choose the questions, you personally get to sort the data, and you get to adopt the survey to meet your needs. When designing surveys for your student ministry, wording of the questions is vital. Never ask just yes or no questions. Make sure the survey isn’t too long. Before designing questions, figure out if you want to do it as a ministry, survey separate grades, only do high school, and other related decisions. Here are some suggestions Wagner gives in creating surveys: teens don’t like taking surveys, so make them fun—and keep them short. are likely to be more honest when the surveys are taken anonymously. Make sure the teens know that you’re not going to use the results to “tattle” on them or to pass on their secrets to mom and dad. will see right through agendas, so don’t insult them by asking biased questions. you ask a yes or no question, you’ll get a yes or no answer. If you’re looking for more details, come up with creative ways to get the teens to interact with the survey. , word your questions carefully. The Introduction to the Practice of Statistics points out that, “The wording of questions is the most important influence on the answers given to a sample survey.” Let your questions be honest, so the answers are honest. , if a teen is ashamed of the answer they’re giving, they will include some sort of excuse to justify their actions. , teens will lie. Don’t take every answer at face value. The CPYU web site gives several examples of media, music, and other surveys to give ideas for creating your ministry’s personal survey. Wagner ends by telling us to use the results to shape and direct your ministry. You may find areas where teens struggle that you didn’t know about.

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