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The K-12 education environment has faced a fair share of upheavals over the last several years, and 2016 has proven to be no different. We’re noticing a shift towards student centered learning standards, a focus on personalized teacher professional development, and a realignment of curriculum to address the changing work environment. More details on each trend are included below.

  • Student Centered Learning and Measurement

Many states are redefining the way they define student success upon graduation, and it’s caused a sweltering debate regarding the effectiveness of implemented changes. Regardless of how you feel about the changes (and we won’t debate them here), there has been a shift in focus towards project-based learning and student exhibitions in an attempt to empower students with a choice in how they learn. School systems are trying to design curriculum around “not yet proficient” students while offering appropriate support to nurture those who are meeting or excelling standards. The trend towards student centered learning has grown alongside the growth of personalized learning plans (PLPs) such as Flexible Pathways, which allow the secondary school student to demonstrate his or her knowledge by completing tasks that interest them. Advocates of the approach suggest it enhances the student’s college readiness. Some districts are asking for parental and instructor feedback on the newly implemented and evolving instruction and learning standards.

  • Personalized Teacher Professional Development

For some school districts, the models of teacher professional development have moved away from Administration-dictated approaches to those which allow the instructor to identify their own learning goals and associated training. By playing a larger role in co-designing their own professional development, teachers are often receiving a combination of online learning, workshops with hands-on instruction, and service-based learning.  Micro-credentialing is also gaining in popularity, which provides credits for professional development that count towards licensure and certification during the following decade. It will be important for school districts to monitor the effectiveness of various professional development approaches in order to continually refine and improve the learning process for instructors, based on the changing learning and work environment that students need to be prepared for upon graduation.

  • Curriculum Realignment

We’ve all probably heard about the Common Core debate, and the growing movement against the standards and tests involved with the approach. The “opt-out” rates for common-core tests has been growing over the last couple years, with parents opting to have their children sit the test out, and teachers refusing to administer some or all of the tests. Beyond the individual protests of the approach, one third of the originating states in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Testing Consortium have decided to opt out of the Common Core aligned testing for various reasons.

School districts are also realigning curriculum to meet the changing workforce needs, with a rising focus on robotics and computer programming. The growing demand for individuals with proper training in technological fields had led educators to believe that learning should begin earlier than post-secondary education. To ensure success, it will be crucial for school districts to ensure that the realignment of curriculum meets the needs of local employers.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: An organization that provides services to K-12 school districts recently partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a customer satisfaction survey. The client wanted to better understand satisfaction and perception of services provided by the organization. The market research objective was to provide decision-making insights needed to determine whether the organization is meeting the needs of clients, and where they may be able to improve service offerings.

Approach:  The RMS Analytics team collected data from stakeholders via an online survey. To hone in on the customer satisfaction with the services provided by the organization, RMS created an online survey script which was reviewed and approved by the client. Questions focused on how the respondent rated the satisfaction with particular services, customer service perceptions, timeliness of project completion, among other items. Fieldwork lasted approximately three weeks, a longer data collection period than normal, in an effort to obtain a very high completion rate. Through an extended fieldwork period, RMS was able to obtain a 91% response rate. Following the data collection and analysis period, a comprehensive report was delivered to the client, which included a visual dashboard of the findings, as well as next steps and recommendations.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • The research identified the areas where the organization excels in serving its customers, including the friendliness and helpfulness of staff.
  • Areas of opportunity where the organization could improve the customer experience included the perceived value for the cost of the service, the ease of receiving an answer to a question, and timeliness of the service.
  • For areas of opportunity, RMS researchers probed deeper beyond what needed to be improved to determine how the organization can best improve the customer experience. This led to action items that the organization can address, in an effort to capture more of the market share.
  • Overall, more than 80% of respondents stated a very high level of satisfaction with the organization.
  • The research identified high-level perceptions by asking what comes to mind when thinking about the organization. Services offered and positive attributes were most commonly mentioned.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

Summer’s here and the time is right: Central New Yorkers are ready to face the music, RMS ViewPoint Poll Shows. 

According to a recent poll of Central New Yorkers conducted by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) ViewPoint, 83 percent of individuals plan to go to a concert this summer. Thirty percent of Central New York respondents are planning on attending at least two concerts this summer, 21 percent are preparing to go to three concerts, and nine percent are planning on attending eight or more concerts this year. The average respondent plans to spend $76 to $100 per concert, and will travel 21 to 50 miles for a concert this year. When it came to choosing the concert respondents were most excited about, the Dave Matthews Band concert at the Lakeview Amphitheater was the most anticipated by Central New Yorkers, followed by Keith Urban, Zac Brown Band, Journey and Hall & Oates.

“Everybody loves music, and that is especially true in Central New York,” said Zachary Shaw, RMS ViewPoint Panel Associate. “Not only are there are so many great music venues in the area, but there is such a wide variety of music that you’re able to experience as well.” Respondents surveyed were asked about favorite music genres, listening habits, preferences, venues, and concert spending behaviors. “Because CNY is a top test market in the country, media companies continue to test new programming and music services in this area,” said Sandy Baker, Senior Director of Corporate Strategy.

With the summer concert season officially underway, CNY residents spend lots of time prepping for upcoming shows. Thirty-nine percent listen to ten or more hours of music per week. Almost half (48 percent) listen to music the most while in their car, while 21 percent listen at home and at work. And it’s no secret that Central New Yorkers love their local radio: 62 percent typically listen to music through traditional AM/FM radio. Forty percent typically purchase their music and another 40 percent stream through Pandora. Twenty-seven percent listen to music with satellite radio, 23 percent listen through YouTube and 14 percent stream with Spotify.

When it comes to a favorite music genre, classic rock stole the show with 76 percent. The other top categories followed with rock at 67 percent, and close behind was pop at 64 percent, country at 48 percent, R&B/soul at 36 percent, and hip hop and rap at 32 percent. When asked if they could see anyone in concert, the top response was Adele. Beyoncé came in second, followed by “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Garth Brooks.

Central New York offers many live music venues, each with unique qualities that tend to draw locals depending upon their music preferences. According to respondents, the favorite local concert venue is the Chevy Court Pavilion at the Fairgrounds. The Lakeview Amphitheater came in second, followed by Turning Stone Resort and Casino as third favorite venue.

A detailed infographic depicting the full survey results is included below. If you would like to participate in upcoming RMS ViewPoint polls and surveys, please visit RMSViewPoint.com to sign up.

Music survey

The RMS ViewPoint poll was conducted from May 25, 2016 to June 5, 2016. A total of 501 surveys were completed. Respondents consisted of RMS ViewPoint Research Panel members, as well as the general community. All respondents resided within the 6-county CNY area (Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego). For more information on RMS ViewPoint, visit RMSViewPoint.com.

About RMS

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a full service marketing and market research firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. RMS provides an array of research methodologies that result in actionable analytics and recommendations for the client to enhance decision making. RMS is also home to QualiSight, a premier focus group and interview research facility, and RMS ViewPoint, a leading consumer research panel in Central New York. Visit our website at RMSresults.com. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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The RMS social media team recently attended a Social Media Breakfast presentation by Greg Loh, Managing Partner at Eric Mower + Associates. Aside from the great coffee and pastries, our team received an information-packed 90 minutes of social media crisis management gold. Although our social media team prides itself on staying up to date on the latest trends (it must be the researchers in us… we’re curious by nature), Greg provided insightful tips that any reputation management professional would find useful. Social media has been known to fuel fire under public opinion, and the popularity of this communication medium seems to be here to stay for the foreseeable future. The presentation touched on two main types of social media crisis situations and how to deal with them – crisis + social and social = crisis.

  • Crisis + Social

The influence that social media plays during a crisis has heightened over the last decade, with everyday people (not journalists) commonly breaking news stories via social media outlets. A prime example that Greg gave during the presentation was the US Airways plane landing on the Hudson River in 2009, later dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson.” The news of the plane landing on the Hudson River instantly became worldwide news when Janis Krums posted a picture of people entering life boats from the plane. Greg noted that the online world “amplifies and accelerates” a story to make it big news. Given the unpredictable nature of crises, it’s imperative to be cautious about automated social media or any communcation. Even if the crisis is not directly related to you or your company, if your social media activity or automated survey seems insensitive, the public backlash could create a firestorm of bad press for the company. Listening is critical for companies engaging in social media activity.

  • Social = Crisis

When a crisis surrounding your organization originates on social media, Greg recommends that in some instances you should wait before reacting immediately. Of course this does not apply if there is a safety concern or an issue (e.g. a chemical spill) that must be addressed immediately to avoid further damage. For less serious public relations issues, Greg recommends monitoring social media negativity to determine if the content is gaining steam. Often minor social media crises self-regulate through what Greg called the “social media washing machine,” where one story is replaced by the next. When addressing a social crisis, it’s best to focus on incontrovertible facts and third-party support. Unless social comments are highly inflammatory, derogatory, or defamatory, resist the urge to remove critical commentary. By addressing the issue, you have the opportunity to turn a critic into a supporter by finding a solution to their dissatisfaction or disagreement.

To close the presentation, Greg provided a crisis management survival strategy. Essentially, it boils down to figuring out what people want, need, and/or expect in a crisis/emergency situation. The public generally wants to know:

  1. That you have noticed the problem.
  2. That you care.
  3. That you are in control of the situation.
  4. That you are doing something about it.
  5. That you are minimizing damage.
  6. That you are taking steps to make sure it does not happen again.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

What does market research have in common with Election 2016? Besides the fact that we all are very passionate about our work, have great hair, and want our work to have a positive impact, market research professionals must often overcome similar obstacles to those the candidates are facing in this year’s Presidential election. More commonalities are included below.

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  • It can be a hard sell

At this point, I’m sure most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the contentious nature of the campaign and the issues debated among the 2016 Presidential candidates. We won’t talk about those issues here, but as market researchers, we can relate to the difficulty in marketing a service (or in their case, their campaign). Over the years, we’ve learned that not everyone willingly jumps on the market research train. An individual or company may be obligated to conduct market research for a myriad of reasons, including to obtain funding or to get an idea passed through an administrative team. While many of the clients we work with understand the value that market research provides, that is not always the case. We rely on a hard-working and extremely talented team of business development associates and researchers to provide prospective and current clients with an outstanding research experience. In fact, we’re so passionate about our work that it shows through our delivered work products, and has resulted in a large amount of our business stemming from repeat clients. It’s clear that the 2016 Presidential candidates have faced the same hurdle, with “indecision” being a popular voter topic discussed in the media. With such a division in the voting pool, perhaps the Presidential campaign staff could benefit from a market research approach to branding – demonstrate the benefits of your service to those who think they need it the least.

  • People either love it or leave it

This is perhaps the most direct similarity between market research and Election 2016. It’s no secret that the voters have very strong opinions about the 2016 Presidential candidates. It seems the media is frequently reporting on a rally in support of a candidate or protest that has resulted in a less than optimal outcome. Luckily, market research is not quite as dramatic, but we do find that people typically love or leave market research. We’re fortunate that many of our clients enjoy conducting market research because they have benefited from prior projects, and we’re typically able to convert the skeptics into supporters after one great experience. This is often directly tied to the reason market research can be a hard sell –the skeptics don’t initially see the value in market research and do not want to conduct it. There’s nothing more rewarding than providing a person who was initially skeptical with an outstanding experience that convinces them to embrace future market research initiatives.

  • We need each other

Elections rely on market research polling to help identify which issues are important, the impact of candidate qualities on voting behavior, and the extent to which voters support policy changes. The polls are a measure of a candidate’s likelihood to secure the vote, and influence campaign activity. In return, the market research industry gains access to individuals who may otherwise not participate in market research, and has an opportunity to provide a positive research experience that may lead them to participate in future research initiatives. Having a strong network of participants is critical to any research initiative, and it can be an expensive component to a project. To overcome that obstacle, RMS has curated an engaged research panel (RMS ViewPoint) that consists of community members from across the country that have opted in to participate in research conducted through RMS. This leads to a substantial savings for our clients, by providing them with a sample that is representative of the U.S. population, at a fraction of the cost that a standard sample house would charge.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

The following post was co-written with Zach Shaw, Panel Associate at RMS

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What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a non-numerical method used to discover and understand consumer behavior, beliefs, attitudes, experiences, and interactions. Qualitative data is often implemented during the exploratory phase of the research, using unstructured or semi structured techniques to facilitate an open dialogue with the participant(s). Giving the participant more freedom in their response allows them to provide more detail than can be gathered through closed-ended quantitative research. Instead of looking for statistical comparisons, qualitative researchers will evaluate the gathered data to identify trends given by the recipients, and implement solutions.

Types of Qualitative Research:

  • Focus Groups – A focus group includes a small number of people (often 10 or less) brought together to participate in a guided discussion by a moderator. The discussion focuses on specific products, topics, or services, and follows a pre-determined focus group moderator’s guide. The moderator’s guide outlines the questions to be covered, as well as the topics for which the moderator should expect to probe deeper for additional explanation.
  • Intercept Surveys –An intercept survey is a very brief, in-person interview with a participant and an interviewer. For example, the interviewer might approach someone leaving a retail store and ask them a few questions about their experience.
  • In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) –IDIs often take the form of a one-on-one discussion between an interviewer and participant. The interviewer typically follows a semi-structured interview guide, developed prior to the conversation, to direct the discussion. It is common for IDIs to be completed in-person, over the phone, or via the web.
  • Mystery Shopping – Mystery shopping is used to measure the quality of a service, compliance with regulations, or to gather specific information about products and services. This method allows the client to obtain competitive information without being involved in the process. Mystery shoppers often gather this information through telephone calls or by visiting the store and acting as a customer.

Why do Qualitative research?

Qualitative research can be used at any phase of research, but is most commonly done as a first or last step in the research cycle. It can be very valuable when developing new products or marketing initiatives that are looking to gauge consumer perceptions. Qualitative data allows the researcher to have in-depth discussions with participants and allows the researcher to gather more detailed information on consumer needs, behaviors, desires, routines, and a range of other information that companies use for designing products and services. The depth of qualitative research allows the researcher to uncover contextual details that may be overlooked in quantitative research.

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research looks for patterns in numeric data and is generally better for confirming and clarifying a research hypothesis. Applying statistical tests to numerical data provides a better understanding of trends, allowing the researcher to make more informed statements about the results. RMS customizes each questionnaire to the needs of the client, but many of the questionnaires follow a structured outline and are primarily made up of closed-ended questions with provided response options for the participant to choose from. This structured approach to research is different than the more conversational approach used in qualitative research.

Types of Quantitative research:

  • Mail/Paper Surveys – A mail or paper survey is a questionnaire that is completed by the participant on a hard copy rather than in digital form. These types of surveys can either be distributed via postal mail or given to the recipient in person to complete. Mail or paper surveys are a great option for populations which may not have easy access to a computer or the internet, but are known for often having a lower response rate than other types of quantitative research.
  • Mixed Mode – Mixed mode research involves more than one type of data collection. For example, data may be collected with a combination of research methods to reach the desired populations. Phone surveys could be used to collect data from an older population who is more likely to have a landline; online surveys may be distributed to those younger than the population receiving the phone surveys, and paper surveys would be used to collect data from the subset of the population who does not have immediate access to a phone or the internet. A mixed-mode approach allows the researcher to ensure data is collected from the target population of interest, with a mode that is most comfortable to that population.
  • Online Surveys – An online survey is a digital version of a questionnaire. Participants may be sent a survey link that is embedded within an email, or they may access it on a social media post, which they can complete online.
  • Telephone Surveys – A telephone survey is completed over the phone. The interviewer takes the participant through the questionnaire question by question.

Why do Quantitative research?

Quantitative research often gathers a larger number of responses, allowing the researcher to make more reliable assumptions regarding the resulting data. Quantitative research questions can be used to measure consumer feelings, satisfaction, and other factors in a structured form, giving the recipient limited response options.  This quantifiable approach to research is a great option when a client has a sense of what their target audience thinks, feels, or expects, but would like to further test their assumptions.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com

This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: A community-based organization partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct an employee satisfaction study. The client wanted to better understand how happy employees were with the workplace, as well as identify areas of excellence and opportunity. The market research objective was to gather the insights needed to guide organizational improvements in order to increase employee satisfaction.

Approach: The study consisted of a survey that was sent to all employees. An online survey was crafted and sent to employees who had email access, and a paper survey was sent to those who did not. The survey was comprised of 33 questions and included five-point rating questions that measured various aspects of employee satisfaction with their jobs and the organization as a whole.  Additionally, RMS utilized benchmarking data which provided the ability to evaluate the client’s scores against national industry standards. To encourage a high response rate, RMS worked with the client’s human resources department to create digital signage to alert employees of the study. RMS completed fieldwork in approximately four weeks.

Result highlights:

  • Research revealed the highest and lowest rated factors among respondents which identified areas of excellence and opportunity. Respondents indicated the following factors as areas of excellence: willingness to work above and beyond, understanding of the organization’s goals, feeling that work was important, strongly identifying with the organization’s values, and that working at the organization was more than just a job. Areas of opportunities where the workplace could improve were: pay/benefits, availability of the tools/equipment needed, and overall communication.  These rankings are critical and allow the employer to develop initiatives that guide organizational improvement to create a more satisfied workforce.
  • The client was also interested in assessing how overall satisfaction, as well as other factors, varied by department. Results showed that overall satisfaction is higher among employees working in the development (77%) and administration (70%) departments, but lower among employees working in the programs (60%) and social enterprises (52%) departments. Overall, 84% of respondents would recommend the organization as a good place to work, a figure much higher than the industry standard (67%).
  • A correlation analysis revealed that several key factors correlated to overall employee satisfaction. This allowed the end-client to understand what factors have a strong relationship to employees’ overall satisfaction. The highest factors correlated to overall satisfaction were: overall communication, supervisor communication, and quality of work being a top priority among employees. Results demonstrated a need for improved overall communication and supervisor to employee communication. Additionally, the client should promote quality of work as a top priority among the organization as a whole.
  • Respondents were also asked to describe the organization using one word or phrase. RMS summarized this data using a weighted word cloud which enabled the client to compare and contrast employee attitudes. The top six words used to describe the organization were: good, work, rewarding, fulfilling, challenging, and community.
  • Employee satisfaction studies are a great tool to gauge how satisfied a workforce is at a moment in time. RMS recommended the client implement annual studies to track the progress of key metrics, engage employees, and provide a platform for anonymous employee feedback.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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