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Data Collection Procedures

    This section describes data collection procedures that should be followed in administering the Comment Card to visitors. Keep in mind that you may be administering separate surveys for day use and camping visitors.

    Materials and Supplies You Need in the Field

    • English and/or Spanish language comment cards- enough to obtain eight (usually) completed comment cards for the scheduled survey period.
    • Clipboard.
    • Pencils – don’t expect visitors to supply their own.
    • Large envelope or file folder for storing completed surveys.
    • Copy of survey calendar- to verify when / where to survey and to record the number of survey completions and refusals.
    • Copy of these guidelines.

    Preparing the Comment Card for Use

      The cards are set-up to require customization prior to printing. Please follow the Printing Instructions carefully.

      When and Where to Survey
      Depending on the survey plan you elected through the Survey Schedule Generator, you may generate a single survey schedule covering all visitors to your project, or you may generate separate survey schedules for day use and camping visitors. Each sampling schedule identifies the recreation areas and days where the comment card should be administered.

      How Many Completed Comment Cards
      Most projects should administer eight completed comment cards during each scheduled survey period. However, projects that are qualified to do the low sample option (Survey Plan Option 5) should administer six completed comment cards during each scheduled survey period.

      It is possible that more than one survey period will be scheduled for a given day. This may occur in any of three different ways:

      • Two or more recreation areas may be designated for sampling on the same day.
      • A recreation area may appear on the survey schedule two or more times on the same day.
      • A single recreation area or two or more recreation areas may occur on day-use and camping survey schedules on the same day.

      The full complement of six or eight completed comment cards should be administered for each scheduled survey period. Examples: 1) If camping visitors are scheduled for sampling at two different recreation areas on the same day, then eight completed comment cards should be obtained from camping visitors at each of recreation area on the evening prior to the scheduled survey day; 2) if two day use surveys are scheduled for the same area on the same day, then a total of 16 completed comment cards (eight cards for each scheduled survey) should be obtained at that area on the scheduled day; 3) if day use and camping surveys are both scheduled for the same area on a given day, then eight completed comment cards should be obtained from day-use visitors on that day and eight additional comment cards should be administered to camping visitors at that area on the evening prior to the scheduled day.

      Recording the Type of Survey on the Comment Card

      Each comment card should be marked as having been administered using one of the following survey protocols:

      Type of SurveyApplicable SituationsScheduled Survey Options
      Scheduled Survey:
      Day-UseSurveys of day users arising from Survey Plan Options 1 or 2.1, 2
      CampingSurveys of campers arising from Survey Plan Options 1 or 3.1, 3
      All VisitorsSurveys of all project visitors without regard to whether they are day use or camping visitors at arise from Survey Plan Options 4 or 5.4, 5
      Other Protocols:
      SolicitedQuestionnaires completed at request of ranger outside any formal survey process to document visitor a complaint or comment.NA
      Self-serviceQuestionnaires placed on office counter or other central location for visitors to take as they wish. NA
      OtherQuestionnaires administered using a protocol that cannot be categorized by one of the above**NA

      ** Examples:

      • Additional questionnaires completed at a recreation area where more data is desired than would be obtained in the scheduled surveys.
      • Questionnaires distributed to visitors as they enter the recreation area, instead of when they leave.
      • Questionnaires distributed to visitors with instructions to return them to the office, gate house, or other central collection point.

      Comment cards that are administered using the procedures described in this guidance should be marked obtained using one of the three types of scheduled surveys indicated on the card. Projects conducting separate day use and camping surveys (Survey Option 1) should mark cards administered to day use visitors as “Day Use” and cards administered to campers as “Camping.” Projects conducting only a survey of day-use visitors (Survey Plan Option 2) should mark each card as “Day Use”. Projects conducting only a survey of campers (Survey Plan Option 3) should mark each card as “Camping”. Projects administering a single survey to all project visitors (Survey Plan Options 4 or 5) should mark each card as “All Visitors”, regardless of whether that particular questionnaire was administered to a day user or camper. The automated reporting system will produce a separate attribute summary table for each type of survey administered by the project.

      Completed questionnaires obtained using methods that that do not conform to the proscribed survey protocol can still be entered into the comment card database. However, these questionnaires should be marked as having been obtained using one of the Other Protocols listed on the comment card.

      Process for Selecting Visitors to Survey

      • Camping Survey: On the designated sampling day, check with the gate attendant to identify campers that are scheduled to leave the following day. Select and visit either campsites and then select one member to complete the survey. You may need to visit additional campsites if you encounter any refusals. Track refusals, but attempt to obtain the number of completed surveys per the sampling plan.

      • Day-Use Survey: Obtain eight completed surveys distributed over as much of the day as is practical. The survey should be administered to one member of recreation parties that are preparing to leave the recreation area. As closely as possible, attempt to distribute the sample equitably among different types of visitor groups in proportion to their use of the area. Track refusals, but attempt to obtain the number of completed surveys per the sampling plan.

      • Composite survey of Day-use and Camping Visitors:
        • When administering comment cards at a camping-only area, follow the rules above for the Camping Survey.
        • When administering comment cards at a day-use only area, follow the rules above for the Day Use Survey.
        • When administering comment cards at a multiple use area that has both day use and camping visitors, plan to allocate eight comment cards in proportion to the number of day use and camping visits expected on the area using the rules above for the Day-Use Survey and Camping Survey, as appropriate. If the proportion of day use versus camping visitors is unknown, then allocate the comment cards 50:50 to day-use and camping visitors.

      Which Member of the Visitor Party to Survey
      Visitors are generally organized into parties that recreate as a group. Those individuals that leave in the same vehicle are considered to be members of the same recreation party. You should select only one member of a visitor party to participate in the survey. This should usually be one of the adult members. You should not administer the survey to individuals who appear to be under 16 years old.

      Responses to satisfaction questions are known to vary by visitor age, gender, and activity, and other factors. Since the survey process does not control the selection of visitors at the recreation area, the survey clerk should attempt to match the distribution of visitor characteristics/demographics obtained in the sample with those of the recreation area visitors as closely as possible.

      Adjustments for Unforeseen Circumstances:

      • Short-term closure of recreation areas: If the recreation area is closed on the scheduled sampling date because of high water or other short-term events, reschedule the survey for the same day of the week as soon as the area re-opens.

      • Rain days: The need to reschedule a survey due to adverse weather conditions would typically apply only to day use visitors. If adverse weather conditions keep visitors from using the recreation area on the designated sampling day, then reschedule the survey for that recreation area as follows:
        • If the survey was originally scheduled for a weekday, then reschedule it for the next available weekday.
        • If the survey was originally scheduled for a holiday or weekend day, then reschedule it for the next available holiday or weekend day.

      • Inability to fill daily quota: If too few visitors are available on the scheduled sampling day to obtain eight completed surveys, then fill out the remainder of the quota on the next available day as described above under “Rain Days.” This situation should arise infrequently if visitation statistics entered for Project recreation areas are accurate and low visitation areas (<5,000 annual visits) have been omitted from the survey.

      • Other unforeseen circumstances: See the section “Have Questions or Need Help” for contact information.

      Interacting with Visitors

      • Do this. After receiving visitor consent, hand the visitor a comment card and pencil. Ask the visitor to complete the card immediately and return it directly to you. Encourage candid responses. If appropriate, remind them that we cannot make improvements unless they provide honest and candid feedback. Give them space to mark their comments without feeling any undue pressure from you. Avoid the temptation to read their responses as they mark them. If the card is returned to you open to the responses, folding in half then place in the envelope or folder; do not read responses to comment cards in the presence of any visitors. In the event the selected respondent has a disability that impacts their ability to complete the card they may get assistance from another member of their party or the questions may be read to them interview style with you recording their answers.

        When the comment cards are used in an ad hoc situation, they should not be left at an unattended counter, rack or kiosk for self-administration. The protocol is that they are distributed in person and collected within a reasonable time to complete. In an ad hoc situation, you may have a visitor that requests to provide information about their visit, or there is a special event taking place that day.

      • Not this. Do not leave the comment card with the visitor with instructions to drop it off later at a designated location. The response rate for this method of administering the comment card can be very low. OMB approval for this survey was based on the card being collected from the visitor immediately after the form is completed by them. The use of these comment cards is not intended or approved for a mail-back situation.

      Data To Record Each Survey Period
      The printed copy of the survey schedule has columns labeled “Actual Survey Date,” “Completes,” and “Refusals.” In these columns you should record the date the survey actually took place, the number of surveys completed (usually eight) and the number of refusals encountered during the sampling period. The survey clerk should record appropriate values at the end of each survey period. This is the only data that the survey clerk must record. This data will be requested during data entry.

      Disposal of Completed Cards
      While the cards do not contain personally identifiable information, some considers the demographic questions sensitive. After data entry via the online system, the cards should be destroyed by shredding.

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