Why You Need Mixed-Method Data for Better Engagement Outcomes

AI in public engagement: overcoming challenges while embracing possibilities
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May 15, 2024 | Sarah Mathias |

Are legacy survey products getting you lackluster results? Many organizations rely on traditional surveys for climate engagement or strategic planning needs, but these can miss the mark on data. Traditional surveys often only provide flat quantitative data, and when they do implement comment box questions for qualitative data collection, it results in complex, time-consuming analysis.

Organizations need better ways to engage or risk losing out on essential insights and falling short on initiatives. Mixed-method data collection—qualitative and quantitative—along with AI-powered analysis to quickly and easily surface solutions is essential.

As the AI engagement and experience platform that elevates how you gather and analyze feedback, ThoughtExchange offers in-depth, personalized engagement powered by cutting-edge AI. The comprehensive platform turns surveys into solutions by merging quantitative and qualitative data collection with integrated AI analytics.

“Surveys in ThoughtExchange have been a game-changer. With the Survey piece, we don’t have to tie in another system like a Google form or SurveyMonkey in addition to our Exchanges.”Sondra Whalen, Director of Student Programs and Communications, Vernon-Verona Sherrill Central School District

In this Article

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What is quantitative survey data, and how is it used?

Quantitative surveys have been the standard for running core school climate or employee engagement surveys, collecting benchmark comparisons, or gathering data for reporting to state agencies or funders.

Quantitative data is data that can be counted or measured with a numerical value. It is often collected through surveys that use multiple-choice, Likert scale, or rating scale questions.

Quantitative surveys are optimal for measuring a large group of people’s attitudes, behaviors, or opinions at a high level. They’re also great for measuring variables using standardized scales and comparing across different studies and populations.

Quantitative survey data can be analyzed to identify patterns and trends, providing valuable insights into data relationships. However, when used alone, it lacks nuance—it provides the what, but not the how and why.

Relying solely on quantitative data may oversimplify complex issues, overlooking contextual details and individual perspectives.

What is qualitative survey data, and how is it used?

If you’re looking for a detailed approach to understanding complex issues, look to qualitative survey data. You’ll be able to explore diverse perspectives and experiences and get insights into underlying meanings and contexts surrounding complex phenomena.

Qualitative data isn’t numerical; instead, it’s language-based and descriptive, collected through survey comment boxes, interviews, focus groups, and meetings.

Researchers use qualitative data to get in-depth narrative responses and a deeper understanding of participants’ thoughts, feelings, and motivations. Unlike quantitative data, qualitative data is ideal for capturing nuances in complex issues and complementing quantitative approaches for comprehensive understanding.

With quantitative data alone, it’s hard to get the full picture—that’s where a mixed-method approach of both quantitative and qualitative takes engagement to the next level.

According to HBR, “the only way to discover the “why” is to engage with [participants] in qualitative research such as interviews, focus groups, and observation. The result is an iterative process that starts with the “who” and the “what,” which the data can reveal, and proceeds to the next step of diagnosing the “why,” which the data cannot typically reveal.”

While analyzing and interpreting qualitative data can be time-consuming, there’s a simple fix: the right AI engagement and experience platform can do the work for you.

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Why you need mixed-method data for the best outcomes

Whatever challenges you’re tackling, consider using mixed-method data for the most accurate research outcomes. The Harvard Catalyst defines this as strategically integrating or combining qualitative and quantitative research methods to benefit from each.

Benefits include:

  • Offsets limitations of exclusively qualitative or quantitative research
  • Robust description and interpretation of the data
  • More understandable quantitative results
  • Broader applicability of small-sample qualitative findings.

Understanding both the numerical quantitative perspective and the contextual qualitative perspective provides a more holistic picture of the data. With a mixed-method approach, leaders are able to identify what percentage of their participants feel a certain way, as well as why they are feeling it and what they want leadership to do about it. Mixed-method data collection and analysis provides solutions in a way that single method approaches can’t.

A comprehensive AI engagement and experience platform like ThoughtExchange will help you achieve this. You want a platform that gets you deeper engagement and actionable data—one that’s fast, flexible, and easy to use.

How AI is evolving mixed-method data analysis

Does engagement using mixed-data methods sound like a lot of work? It doesn’t have to be. With today’s technology, you can leave the tedious tasks to AI and streamline your planning, spending less time in endless meetings and manually coding data—and more time on effective problem-solving.

With the advances in generative AI, tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT are able to cross-analyze and summarize large quantities of quantitative and qualitative data in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

By leveraging a secure integration with OpenAI, ThoughtExchange’s AI Advisor automatically consolidates your quantitative and qualitative data to deliver themes and hidden insights specific to your organization. You’ll get faster, more effective data analysis, improved communications, and innovative, concrete actions.

With Advisor's advanced chat functionalities, you can interact with your data dynamically, enabling deeper analysis and learning. Share information specific to your organization and your engagement goals, and Advisor will apply that context to its analysis of your results. From drafting press releases to creating SWOT analyses, Advisor boasts game-changing benefits. Advisor has transformed how our customers see their data.

“ThoughtExchange is a game changer because it goes beyond the traditional survey where I get 20% of the people said this and 15% said that. Delving into the actual content of their thoughts provides a more enlightening perspective.”Dr. Yolanda Williamson, Chief of Community Engagement & Innovative Partnerships, DeKalb County School District

How ThoughtExchange gets you mixed-method data

ThoughtExchange helps you move from insight to instant, precise actions with templated solutions and contextualized planning tools. The platform empowers leaders and teams with dynamic AI playbooks—so they don’t miss the moments that matter most to participants.

You’ll be able to make each engagement count and allow participants to engage deeply in meaningful ways, whether deploying an in-survey chat to refine responses with Deep Dive, scaling interactive two-way conversations with Interviews, or facilitating digital focus groups at scale through Exchanges.

Instead of spreadsheet chaos, we offer AI clarity. With ThoughtExchange’s proprietary qualitative and quantitative AI analysis copilot, Advisor, leaders don’t have to choose between quantity, quality, or speed of analysis. Our platform is flexible and easy to use, with patented technology that surfaces deeper insights, in seconds.

ThoughtExchange puts AI to work for you, so you can spend less time collecting and analyzing data, and more time driving outcomes.

“ThoughtExchange is one of the most powerful tools I use as a communications professional in a large school district. Before I develop any type of communications or marketing plan, I use ThoughtExchange to conduct my research and solicit feedback from our community. The impact and value ThoughtExchange provides to us during our strategic planning cannot be overstated.”Chelsea Vongehr, PIO/Grant Writer, Lodi Unified School District
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Sarah Mathias
Sarah discovered her love of words when she penned her first journal in grade 4—she hasn’t stopped writing since. With a BA in Sociology and an MPC in International/Intercultural Communication, Sarah honed her corporate writing skills in the travel insurance and fashion industries before working with ThoughtExchange. She brings her collaborative spirit and commitment to antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with her penchant for grammar jokes.

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