• Presentation

Field Testing the iPAQ Handheld Computer for In-Person Data Collection


Helton, M. P. (2005, May). Field Testing the iPAQ Handheld Computer for In-Person Data Collection. Presented at International Field Directors and Technologies Conference, Miami Beach, FL.


The National Household Enumeration Survey is an in-person interview conducted in either English or Spanish. Recently, project staff have considered converting the current paper-based NHES instrument to a handheld computer system. We expected to observe a number of benefits and advantages with the change in data collection medium, including: 1) better field interviewer management of fieldwork, 2) improvement in the completeness of the data collected, and 3) elimination of operational costs associated with the PAPI approach. The NHES implemented an iterative test process to assess the feasibility of converting to a computerized data collection instrument. The test procedures included focus groups and usability testing with field interviewers, a small scale preliminary field test with mock data, and finally, a live data field test combined with a unique data auditing technique. After each iteration, the programmed instrument was updated based on user feedback. During the preliminary field test, we found that the computerized instrument allowed field interviewers to better organize their cases and work more efficiently. Additionally, we observed that the new programming edits resulted in higher quality data and that staff for data editing and data entry were no longer needed. Lessons learned from the preliminary mock data field test were applied to a larger "live" field test. This presentation will provide summary results from both tests as well as from the initial field interviewer focus groups, which helped shape the approach to development and implementation of using the iPAQ handheld computer for in-person data collection.