Surveys and Data Collection

DIR develops customized surveys and uses industry-recognized survey methods. We are capable of implementing all modes of surveys, such as computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI), online web-based surveys, audio computer-assisted surveys and in-person field follow-up surveys to obtain quantitative data. Child assessments and classroom observations are other modes of primary data collection in which we are very experienced. DIR also uses meticulously designed focus group and interview methods to obtain qualitative data.

Instrument Development

DIR designs a range of instruments from large-scale CATI surveys to focus group protocols, in-depth questionnaires and inventory forms to support data-extraction activities. We perform cognitive interviewing and testing to identify and eliminate potential problems with questionnaire design, wording, awkward terminology, confusing response categories, and sequencing. This testing assures validity, reliability, and bias reduction. For example, DIR led the design or programming of instruments for the following studies:

Survey Methods

Depending on the needs of the project, we use one or a combination of the following data collection methods:

  • Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)
  • Web-Based surveys
  • Self-Administered surveys
  • In-person interviewing
  • Child assessments
  • Classroom observations
  • Focus groups
  • In-depth interviews

Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)

DIR conducts large-scale complex and short-term quick-turnaround surveys in its computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) center in Houston, Texas. Using several CATI programming languages, we tailor our survey implementation to meet our clients’ needs. Our staff includes English speaking and multilingual interviewers that are trained in basic interviewing skills, confidentiality, interviewer bias, refusal conversion techniques, and quality-assurance monitoring. Our CATI capabilities are highlighted in the following projects.


DIR creates and hosts Web surveys as a highly efficient and effective way to interview certain groups, ensuring comprehensive and accurate data. Our web survey software provides real-time online data collection and reporting. Using mixed-mode strategies, DIR often combines the convenience and cost-effectiveness of Web surveys with follow-up by telephone, fax, and e-mail to ensure that our clients receive high response rates. Below, we highlight projects involving Web-based surveys.


DIR is experienced in implementing self-administered data collections with high response rates. Self-administered survey types include mail surveys, self-administered teacher assessments and ratings, and organizational needs assessments. Below, we highlight projects involving self-administered surveys.


DIR uses a variety of methods for in-person interviewing. In-person interviewing methods include intercept surveys, field in-person surveys with cell phones to connect with our CATI Center, paper and pencil (PAPI), and computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI). DIR maintains a national roster of experienced multilingual field interviewers who are experienced with in-Person interviewing. They have been extensively trained in tracking and locating, gaining cooperation, refusal conversion, and maintaining confidentiality. Below we highlight projects involving in-person interviewing.

Child Assessments

DIR is experienced in conducting literacy and language assessments in school settings using standardized assessment tools in both English and Spanish. We have used multiple assessment tools including the Woodcock Johnson III, the TOWRE-2, and the Gates-MacGinitie group reading assessment. We also have experience developing assessment tools. Below, we highlight projects involving child assessments.

Classroom Observations

DIR conducts classroom observations for large-scale education evaluations. DIR staff include educators, diagnosticians, and other staff experienced in related disciplines. DIR uses interrater reliability to ensure that each observation provides correct representations of the variables being measured. Below, we highlight projects involving classroom observations.

Focus Groups

DIR conducts focus groups using highly skilled facilitators, with a blend of backgrounds across a range of disciplines. We have extensive experience in designing focus group protocols that gather rich, detailed responses, using probes to gain further information and clarify confusing issues. We have recruited diverse focus groups such as multilingual and minority youths, business professionals, educators, and panel experts. We provide custom reports ranging from summaries to cross-cutting thorough assessments. Below we share projects that highlight our work with focus groups.

In-Depth Interviews

We use in-depth interviews to help our clients identify the perceptions and experiences of individuals expressed in their own words. We develop probing and flexible interview guides that elicit candid and reflective responses. We have extensive experience in conducting in-depth interviews with educators, federal government employees, program managers, community-based organizations, employers, and labor representatives. Below, we share projects that highlight our work using In-depth interviews.