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Research Methods in Africana Studies


Serie McDougal III

Research Methods in Africana Studies is a major contribution to the discipline of Africana studies and social science involving people of African descent in general. This textbook is the first of its kind, offering instruction on how to conduct culturally relevant critical research on Africana communities in the American context, in addition to the African diaspora. It contains a collection of the most widely used theories and paradigms designed for exploring, explaining, and advancing Africana communities through science. The relevance, strengths, and weaknesses of every major method of data collection are explained as they relate to the lived experiences of the Black world. It stands alone as the only textbook that details empirical methods in the service of the collective advancement of Africana peoples.
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10. Survey Design: Asking Questions


← 210 | 211 → CHAPTER TEN

Survey Design: Asking Questions


Toddlers quickly learn that when there is information they would like to know, one of the easiest tools at their disposal is the “question.” They ask lots of questions because, unlike adults, they are unburdened with presumptions about knowing the answers. They know they don’t know; therefore they are insatiable askers of questions. A disciplined researcher can learn a lot from toddlers, especially their willingness to question things that most people take for granted. Too often we ignore or dismiss that voice inside that has a question. That voice is a researcher’s antennae. If we can learn to listen to it, we will never be without a research question. This chapter is about questioning—specifically it is about survey design. The chapter covers the various types of surveys and questionnaires. It also explains the common pitfalls that present themselves during the survey process, how they can affect your research, and how to avoid them.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies conducted an investigation of African Americans’ attitudes about social security and retirement savings. The study found that African Americans and White Americans had some similar and different attitudes about social security and retirement policies. Leigh and Wheatley (2010) surveyed 850 African Americans and 850 members of the general public; 721 Whites were surveyed. African Americans were more likely than Whites to expect social security to be their major source of income after...

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