Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Data Collection

I was studying the CQE sample examination as part of my preparation for the ASQ CQE exam. and this is the 3rd time I attempt writing it since I failed for the second time in 2006 and I have lost two payments without even writing it, the last two times(!), when I came across this question:
An important aspect of data collection is that the data collector should:
a- Know how the data are to be used.
b- Use a stratified sampling plan.
c- use a control chart to analyse data.
d- determine the dispersion of the data.
I quickly analysed the answers and decided to have answers b and c out and then thought of a and b. At the time to my understanding the data collector does not need to know how the data are to be used because he or she is simply a tool for data collection so the others could use that, analyse and process it and probably issue the result. So I chose answer b as the correct answer. But after checking the answers I learnt that answer a is actually the correct one. The rationale behind that is simply if the data collector knows how the data later are to be used, he or she can have a better understanding as how to collect the data to be useful for the processor or analyser and eventually the end user.
At the same time it reminded me of the data collection I was involved years ago, in university days and now I realise how stupid it was. The training was good although I do not recall barely anything. We were doing data collection for urban traffic studies and part of it was simply filling out the forms by knocking at the doors and asking the questions. The problem with that was people were mostly surprised as how we knew them, their information as they probably had never been informed of the data collection. It was not like here that the city sends letters and notifications to everyone. The other issue was that I guess many people were not honest in their interview because they simply didn't care or were not interested in the results especially because the interview was about their daily commute. For example it's at time common in the old country to get a free ride from someone. It happens to the girls and young women and the driver does that with the hopping of having a date later on! As weird as it might sound many people do that and at the end they give out their telephone number or more recently hope for a quickie if not at the moment may be later! Even the families and men might get that. Sometime there is a kind person who feels bad for the passengers hanging out at the side of the street and gives them a lift on his way. Once we were interviewing a young girl and she was not so firms on a few of her answers. My partner who was a young girl as well at the end when we left her said that she had realised that the interviewee was lying at parts and in fact she had gotten free rides from here to there!
The most stupid part of those few days of data collection was the we were parked beside a highway and our job was to count the passing cars and the number of their passengers! That could be a tough thing to do because for a minute 2 or even 3 cars might pass at the same time. We had a recorder and we had to yell the number of each vehicle's passenger to it and we had to do it continuously for I do not recall how long by saying: 1 ... 3 ... 1 ...2 and so on to the microphone! How would you expect people to be honest while they are standing at the side of a highway and looking inside the passing cars to find out how many are in there!? The funny part was some of them, I remember exactly that would stop to ask questions and addresses of the places they were going to!! And I had to point at them to leave while talking to the recorder or direct them if someone else was doing that!
I never knew what the result of the data collection was and none of us knew how those were used but we made good money and we all receive a certification for our participation at the end! I remember there were another group (we were several groups) consisted of two boys and two girls, as far as I remember and I heard that they spent most of their time together having a good time eating here and there and chatting and then filled out all of the forms with fabricated data! Our group consisted of me, three other boy and a girl was led by me and I was honest and all and the boys were too but two of them and more specifically one didn't like me for different reasons including me spending most of my time with the girl and sending them as a team but overall it was a fun time. I guess I missed a few classes and right after that semester I fell into a big trouble of course not as a result of that data collection but thought better to mention that. I struggled for a few months and then a year or two until I finally graduated.

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