7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Development and creation of an audio vignette for use with school Principals
2020-12-03, 11:10–11:25, Zoom Breakout Room 2

Trying to understand how people would respond to a hypothetical situation is problematic. The gap between how someone knows they should respond, or even how they think they would respond, and how they actually would respond, can be large. Theoretical explanations for this gap include social desirability (i.e. reporting an answer in a way they deem to be more socially acceptable than would be their "true" answer) and identity theory (i.e. reporting responses that match how one views oneself). Nevertheless, such an approach can provide valuable insights into a situational response – including level of knowledge regarding best practice, as well as predicting actual response.

Often in research studies, hypothetical scenarios are presented as written vignettes. However, there is evidence that alternative presentation modes – such as video and audio, result in more realistic responses, are more engaging for participants and result in better quality data. A downside of video vignettes, however, is that they can over-specify the scenario so that participants react to visual cues,– such as what the actors look like or background scenery, that are irrelevant to the research question. Our approach suggests that audio vignettes may be an appropriate middle ground and provide a richer and more realistic response.

The aim of this paper is to outline our methodological approach to the development and creation of an audio scenario to be undertaken with school Principals. The audio vignette is part of an online instrument designed to understand schools’ preparedness for changes and events that impact on the supportiveness and connectedness of the social environment, such as cyberbullying, and their capacity to respond. The paper includes a discussion of what scenario was chosen and why, including the careful choice of actors (e.g. a gender-neutral voice for the student) and language (e.g. ethnically ambiguous character names).

Ultimately, we are interested in understanding the extent to which Principals engaged with the scenario and its authenticity in the school environment, and whether the audio scenario enabled them to respond fully to the survey questions regarding system-level response that followed. We also aim to compare participants’ responses to two questions asked prior to the audio vignette regarding the school’s level of or preparation for a response to a cyber bullying or bullying issue, to those provided after hearing the audio vignette. Due to COVID-related restrictions on research in schools in Victoria, the scenario has not yet been implemented. We hope to complete this research in early 2021.

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