SERC use various research methods, including:-
1. Open days
2. Geographical Information Systems (G.S.I)
4. School visits
5. Online Surveys
6. Discussion groups
There are many limitations within each of these research methods. Theses limitations can affect the accuracy of the research collected.
Open days can only be held at certain times of the year. They are held towards the end of the school year for those wishing to enrol in a course starting the following September. Open days are usually held during a week day afternoon. As many of those wanting to enrol are still attending school, they are unable to attend the open day at the same time. People may also find difficulty to attend as parents may be in employment and are unable to leave to take them along.
Each year the open days attract a wide range of people and the college can get quite busy, sometimes too busy. This results in many people leaving before they get the chance to find out the information they need, or not having the opportunity to ask the questions they wanted answered.
An open day takes a lot of time and preparation. This means lecturers and other staff members of the college having to take time out of their already busy schedules. Students may lose class time if a lecturer is required else where to set up the hall.
Open days need to be held on more appropriate, convenient and accessible times for those groups of people SERC wishes to target. Evenings and weekends would be more practical, as this allows those willing to attend more of an opportunity, as school and work are less likely to get in the way.
Individual departments within SERC could host their own open days. This allows individuals only wishing to attend for that one subject the chance to find out more information, directed entirely to that one particular subject. The college does then not have an overflow of people attending.
G.I.S – Geographical Information Systems
Geographical Information Systems is a system that contains information gathered from various places to enable SERC to market their courses in the most suitable places.
The GIS requires the individual using the system to be trained and have the knowledge to put it to the correct use. If the individual using the system is not frequently trained, then it could lead to misuse and imprecise data being collected.
It will require regular maintenance to ensure that it remains relevant, in working order and up to date. The information it stores will have to be accurate so as to help the college obtain useful information.
For this system to function well, staff must be trained to a high level so as to be able to analyse information correctly. The information must be collected regularly to keep records fresh. They cannot just collect the data when oversubscription or problems occur.
SERC send many online surveys throughout the year to their students. These surveys take time and effort to create. They must ensure these surveys ask the correct questions in order for them to obtain the information they want it to give. One limitation that could really cause a set back would be the respondent, and if the information that the respondent has supplied is honest and reliable.
To help ensure online surveys are productive, conducting a small test run to see that the results which are received are accurate and appropriate to what data is needed. By making these surveys anonymous students may find it easier to be more open and honest with the answers they supply.
Discussion groups take time to organise; a lot of people who would be willing to attend these groups may not put much input into the discussion. This could be because of those conducting the discussion, those taking part within the discussion or other unknown reasons.
A biased researcher conducting the discussion could give leading questions or topics; this would cause the information to be biased and unreliable. The information which may come out of the discussion would not be useful and the discussion would be deemed useless.
For a discussion group to be a valid part of research, things like the environment in which the discussion is held, could play a part on what sort of information is given. If individuals taking part feel at ease to talk they are more likely to contribute more openly and give their honest opinions. An unbiased and unknown researcher, possibly from another organisation, could help put individuals at ease and encourage them not worry as much about what information is being discussed.
Flyers can be a high cost within the college especially if they are not distributed to the correct audience they were created for. Distribution of these flyers requires personnel to do so; this is also an added cost. Flyers could have difficulty in reaching their target audience, as we don’t know who or where they may be.
Keeping flyers accurate and to the point can help make them more appealing to those reading it. If there is too much detail the main point of the flyer gets lost and it then becomes useless.
The flyer needs to reach the correct geographic and demographic areas in order for it to reach its desired audience. Without the desired audience there wouldn’t be a reason to produce the flyer.
School visits take time, organisation and costs SERC money to take a member of their staff out of the college to do these visits. Ensuring that the visits are aimed at the correct audience could also be an obstacle. The information and use of the visits may not benefit SERC, and would be useless to the research they may wish to obtain from the visits.
By visiting various classes within different schools and not just one, it allows SERC to obtain a larger sample of information for the research conducted. Those members of staff conducting the visits also require to be trained and have knowledge of what they are speaking about, rather than just any member of staff.