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Select a Professional Development Module:
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Introduction  |  Step 1  |  Step 2  |  Step 3  |  Step 4  |  Step 5  |  Step 6  |  Step 7  

Step 2:. Decide if a special incentive should be offered for responding to the questionnaire.

Participants are more likely to complete a survey if they know they are getting something in return for their efforts. Research suggests that the simplest and most effective incentive is a small amount of cash ($2-$5) enclosed in the questionnaire packet. On the other hand, experience has shown that promising cash after the return of the questionnaire is not as effective, perhaps because it conveys a more intangible and negative message (e.g., "I'm only going to trust you with a reward once I have your questionnaire back."). Other incentives could be gift certificates and prize drawings. Smaller token rewards (e.g., pencils, notepads) are not as effective as cash or other incentives, but they are preferable to nothing and may be the only alternative if the sponsoring institution has some objection to paying out cash or an equivalent.

Dispensing cash with a questionnaire is not always necessary or appropriate. Participants in a multistage evaluation are likely to be involved in several data gathering procedures throughout the project. Here, evaluators would do best to offer one large incentive for the entire commitment. Possibilities might include a cash stipend, professional credit, special recognition, or project-related products such as upgraded software or a final report.