Archive for May 2018

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple” (Dr. Seuss). Dr. Perrodin centers this episode to the seven reasons he loathes surveys and lays out a vastly better alternative for gathering relevant input to inform decision making.  WHAT IS A SURVEY – THE NUTS AND BOLTS. Fundamentally, a survey is a method of gathering information from a sample of people, traditionally with the intention of generalizing the results to a larger population. Surveys provide a critical source of data and insights for nearly everyone engaged in the information economy, from businesses and the media to government and academics. There are several steps to creating surveys, but the pillars of any surveys are the constructs. In the context of a survey, a construct is the abstract idea or underlying theme. Constructs can be direct or indirect. Direct is easily and reliably measured, such as height and weight. These also will have a very high level of inter-rater reliability. On the other hand, indirect constructs, such as happiness, frustration and satisfaction are more challenging to assess and splattered with issues of inter-rater reliability as happiness will hold a meaning unique to the individual.  THE 7 FLAWS OF SURVEYS. (1) Surveys aggregate, or combine, data from many survey takers. For example, one might deduct from collective findings of a youth risk survey of 300 high school students that “15% of youth surveyed had suicidal thoughts at least twice during the past year”. At first glance, this appears like sound, useful information. It isn’t. In fact, it’s largely useless. Why? Who are the 15% of students that have considered suicide? How does one exactly recall at least 2 events within the past 365 days. We already know the forgetting curve wreaks havoc in the courtroom. (2) Response rates - how many surveys do you receive and actually complete? People dislike filling our long forms and response rates for emailed surveys might hover at 2%. Almost everyone will ignore a survey. (3) Positionality of person(s) writing the questions. Positionality is the practice of a researcher delineating his or her own position in relation to the study, with the implication that this position may influence aspect of the study, such as the data collected or the way in which it is interpreted. The survey will mirror the mind of its author – and that often can lead to bias. I mean, how many human resources want to craft a survey that will reveal the true level of disdain simmering within employees? (4) Survey takers are not able to ask seek clarification of the questions. Surveys are one-way. Good luck! (5) It’s not easy to ask “good” questions. Formulating constructs takes thought and operational definitions. The most effective surveys have the fewest questions, like 20, and they must pepper construct-aligned questions throughout the survey instead of clumping them into sections. (6) Survey question vernacular, register or reading level are all ways to point out that most surveys are written with industry jargon and won’t be understood by all survey takers. When considering youth and adults with disabilities or language barriers, comprehension plummets and you largely end up with people guessing as they simply don’t understand the questions. This might even be a form of passive discrimination. Nobody does a readability check on a survey – even though such a task can be done online for free in a 5 minutes. (7) People generalize survey findings beyond the unit of measure. For example, a survey from, and applied to, one elementary school is much more useful than taking surveys from 100 elementary schools, combining the findings and then distilling blanket conclusions. Contexts and situations are lost under such common practices and the more you aggregate findings the less you lose of the “unit of measure.” THE BETTER OPTION – FOCUS GROUPS. Dr. Perrodin regularly conducts focus groups – in fact, he has facilitated eight focus groups of 6-8 people within the past 2 months! In this episode, he talks in detail about how to carry out a focus group. Advantages of focus groups. The main advantages of focus groups are: they are useful to obtain detailed information about personal and group feelings, perceptions and opinions. You can record them, code them, field or ask immediate clarifying questions and be open to un-anticipated divergent input! FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN: Twitter @SafetyPhD and subscribe to The Safety Doc YouTube channel & Apple Podcasts. SAFETY DOC WEBSITE & BLOG: www.safetyphd.com David will respond to comments & emails. The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. ENDORSEMENTS. Opinions are those of the host & guests and do not reflect positions of The 405 Media or supporters of “The Safety Doc Podcast”. The show adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward productive discourse & debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety. Email David: thesafetydoc@gmail.com LOOKING FOR DR. TIMOTHY LUDWIG, PHD? Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com.

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The is the LAST May in 2018 - disheartening news as David apparently overlooked the other Mays of 2018. Perhaps he should unfollow the Mayan calendar? In this episode, Dr. Perrodin flies solo and revolves anecdotal stories to touch upon agency, purpose and situational awareness. TWO-ALARM FIRE AT SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND - THE ONE QUESTION STUDENTS WANTED US TO ANSWER. A recent 2-alarm fire at his workplace (thankfully, it was a small blaze confined to a dryer) underscores David’s belief that kids and adults tend to handle the unexpected very well when previously informed of what to anticipate during chaotic events - or situations that move them from their comfortable, typical “torus” zone into temporary chaos. In previous episodes, Dr. Perrodin has provided empirical reasoning for why chaos is actually a good thing and that numerous studies have concluded people often make *sound decisions (*sound is more appropriate as “correct” implies that a decision must be convergent to achieve the desired outcome) during highly chaotic situations. Nonetheless, he shares that a co-worker asked to return to the building to use the restroom. Four separate student focus groups revealed a single request students had about the fire - after 20-minutes of standing patiently on the sidewalk, and hearing addition fire apparatus arrive at the facility, they wanted to know what was going on. David parallels this request for basic information to other crisis situations and notes that keeping people informed neutralizes anxiety and facilitates cooperation. Dr. Perrodin discusses ways to incorporate this “informing” process throughout other aspects of life. ALARMING TREND IN EMPLOYEES BEING PUT ON LEAVE - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. Dr. Perrodin, who engages in various legal expert witness consulting, closes the episode by alerting listeners to an unsettling uptick in the practice of a human resources director placing an employee on leave due to an investigation. It’s a given that allegations of embezzlement or gross violation of job duties would warrant the employee being placed on either a paid or unpaid leave during the investigation. The difference in today’s HR practices, however, is two-fold. First, employees, both in management and non-management roles, are being placed on leave for more “subjective” allegations, such as, “contributing to a hostile work environment.” (What does that actually mean??) An example could be an employee that perceives a co-worker is not supporting a newly-created “safe space” in the work setting and files a complaint to HR per whatever process is outlined in the organization. Yes, claims can be that open to interpretation - note that the recipient of the hostile work environment is making a claim upon perception of behavior and interpretation of a definition that is broad. The second concerning characteristic of this trend is that the person placed on leave is immediately separated from their work email, electronic files and paper files. Locked out! Hence, documentation and records that can support the employee’s defense are not accessible by the employee. Now what? David shares that he contacted multiple experts versed in maintaining personal communications / records and none were able to offer advice on how employees should maintain critical documentation in this emerging era of more frequent, and more subjective allegations of violations of the code of employee conduct coupled to employees being separated from their documentation. This matter will be the core of a future show as Dr. Perrodin is seeking an expert who can offer insight into how to best protect yourself in the midst of an allegation. FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN: Twitter @SafetyPhD and subscribe to The Safety Doc YouTube channel & Apple Podcasts. SAFETY DOC WEBSITE & BLOG: www.safetyphd.com David will respond to comments & emails. The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. ENDORSEMENTS. Opinions are those of the host & guests and do not reflect positions of The 405 Media or supporters of “The Safety Doc Podcast”. The show adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward productive discourse & debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety. Email David: thesafetydoc@gmail.com LOOKING FOR DR. TIMOTHY LUDWIG, PHD? Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com.

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