ACSPRI Conferences, ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference 2018

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large

Events History Calendars: Benefits and Challenges

Elsie Foeken, Jennifer Renda, Karena Jessup, Bernadette Kok, Michael Bassett, Maureen Canning

Building: Holme Building
Room: Withdrawing Room
Date: 2018-12-13 01:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Last modified: 2018-10-22


Events History Calendars (EHCs) are a useful tool available to researchers interested in collecting long-term retrospective autobiographical data. In particular, they arguably improve the quality of retrospective reports, and are apt in the study of transitions (Averdijk et al. 2012; Belli et al. 2001; Belli et al. 2007). However, a benefit of EHCs that has so far received little attention is their potential to bolster respondent experience. This paper will discuss Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)’s design and implementation of an EHC, the purpose of which is to reduce respondent burden, and improve survey experience. LSAC is a major, nationally representative study which provides insights into children’s development within Australia’s current social, economic and cultural environment. Since 2004, two cohorts of 5,000 children and their parents have been interviewed every 2 years. An EHC was introduced for the older of the two cohorts in Wave 7, at age 16-17. Due to the longitudinal nature of the study and challenges in engaging adolescent participants (see Cooper Robbins et al. 2011), LSAC designed its EHC with the aim of transforming unexciting, repetitive sets of questions into a visually engaging, conversational experience. However, this endeavour was not free of methodological challenges. Issues faced from the outset of EHC design involved deciding which domains would be viable for inclusion; linking information from this instrument to the study’s several other instruments, both in the context of present and future data collections; deciding how events and transitions should be measured; and instrument usability and effective interviewer training. In order to explore these issues, and how they impact on engagement and the respondent experience, this paper will focus on the relationships module, the component of LSAC’s EHC that has proved most challenging to design and implement.