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Education Market Research: Getting Your Sample Group

Now that you’ve previous article on education market researchpinpointed the problem you want your education market research to solve, and begun planning the details of your project. One of your first steps will be to determine what your sample group is going to look like.

Of course, the makeup of your sample group will need to reflect, with a large degree of accuracy, the makeup of the population you’re sampling from. And you’ll need a group that’ll give you the information you need. So you’ll want to dedicate a lot of time and deep thought to the compilation and development of your sample group.

The proper size

Unless you’re somehow able to survey your entire customer base, or to survey every potential customer, you need a sample that’s representative of the population you’re targeting, but which is a manageable size. It’s tempting to assume that a higher number would automatically yield better results, and indeed, large sample sizes are an important part of getting good results. The formula for calculating a proper sample size will vary depending on what kind of representation you’re looking for; if you’re looking for the mean of a set of values (such as income level or age), you’ll need to use a different formula than if you’re calculating for, say, a proportion. Ask your education market research team for more details about how this is done.

The proper representation

If you’re going to get results you can use, you’re going to need a sample group that accurately represents the population you’re studying. Education market research professionals use a variety of sampling methods.

The random sample

This is as simple as throwing a dart at a dartboard. Just choose a random list of names from the given population. This is ideal, since every person in the group has an equal chance of being chosen. But often it’s impossible, particularly if not every individual in the target population is known to the researchers.

The systematic sample

This is similar to random sampling; in systematic sampling, every nth individual is selected from the list, after beginning at a random starting point. Thus, you might choose every fifth person, every tenth person, and so on. It’s important not to do this with an ordered list, because the order of that list (income level, class size, or any other descriptor) may throw off the final sample.

The stratified sample

This is necessary when there are several individual subgroups within a larger group. Teachers, administrators and staff might be one collection of subgroups; primary school, high school and college teachers might be another. If you need a representative sample from each of these groups, stratified sampling might be the right choice.

The proper budget

Of course, nothing will determine your sample group more than the amount of money you have to spend. There are plenty of data points when it comes to determining cost: How much the collection and analysis of information costs; whether you’re paying your sample group members; whether you’re feeding a focus group; and any costs associated with telephoning survey subjects. Perform a thorough budget analysis before you begin to compile any sample group.

When it’s time to plan an education market research initiative, MarketingWorks can provide all the help you need and more. We’re experts at market research, sales strategies, business intelligence and more, all for the education market.

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