Section 8.3 Response Error & Bias

Section 8.3 Response Error & Bias

Section 8.3 Response Error & Bias

Conducting an in-class SET can help to increase participation rates by making use of a captive audience. However, SET based on those attending class on that particular occasion will be dependent on attendance figures for the given class and the extent to which those present on that day are representative of the class (Spooren, Mortelmans, & Denekens, 2007).


If the aim of SET is to glean insight into the experiences and attitudes of all their students then this represents a significant problem, since any conclusions or changes to teaching will be based on the information provided only by those attending and not the entire group of interest (Richardson, 2005).


The problem is not simply that some students do not have an opportunity to rate or recount their experiences, but that people who chose to respond to surveys are significantly different from those who chose not to in terms of demographic and social characteristics (Goyder, 1987). It is therefore fair to assume that students who do not engage in SET have different attitudes and experiences than those who do, and that those of the non-responders are not made known to the lecturer.


Richardson (2005) posits that inferences based upon samples with lower participation rates (or a higher number of non-responders) may be inaccurate for two reasons:

8.3 response error & bias (a).jpg

8.3 response error & bias (b).jpg


While simply increasing representation or participation may seem like a simple solution the ethical implications of enforcing participation, and the subsequent value of any information provided has been queried, and Richardson (2003) calls into question the point at which SET feedback crosses the line and becomes institutional research.


Activity 8.3

What are the different implications of non-respondents for summative and formative feedback?

To which group is the issue of non-response more pertinent?

Submit your answers


Back to 8.1 Continue to Section 8.4 Back To Section 8

Page tools