QBARS - v28n4 The ARS Membership Survey

The ARS Membership Survey
Hank Schannen, Princeton, N. J.

<<<<<<< HEAD         In January, the members of the American Rhododendron Society were requested to complete and return a self-administered questionnaire which was enclosed with the Quarterly Bulletin. Of the 3403 questionnaires sent out, 851 usable forms were returned, a return of 25 per cent, which is about average for a questionnaire of this length and complexity.

The Survey covered five major informational areas:
Overall attitudes toward the ARS - both the National and local chapters.
Attitudes toward a number of specific ARS issues.
Membership interests and activities.
Attitudes toward and readership of the Quarterly Bulletin.
Membership demographics.

Two general types of questions were included in the study:
One being quantitative measurements of membership attitudes consisting of "closed end" questions that have pre-listed response categories;
The second type being a qualitative measurement consisting of "free response", uncategorized, written-in answers in which members frequently expressed themselves at great length.

Reported here are only the "closed end" questions. In effect this article will serve as the ARS "report card" - communicating the quantitative results of the study, but drawing few conclusions. A later article will analyze the "free response" questions with emphasis on the qualitative side of the study.

Perhaps a few words are in order about surveys in general and this one in particular:

1. Regardless of the answer categories (or scales) used in evaluating responses, the most predicative and meaningful answer categories tend to be those which group at the extreme ends of the scale either the positive or the negative end. For example, in this study, the "Excellent" ratings (or "Poor" ratings), the "Agree Strongly" (or "Disagree Strongly") categories are those which are most sensitive in producing attitudinal differences between the total membership and its component groupings. Consequently, many of our analyses are made in reference to differences in the scale-end points.
2. A number of ARS membership sub-groups were broken out and analyzed (although not necessarily reported) in relation to the total ARS respondents. The subgroups included:

Regional groups (South, West Coast, Eastern, Northeast and Midwest)
Length of membership
Ever held ARS office or committee membership
Frequency of attending meetings
Member's interests
Home gardener/not a home gardener
Hybridizer/not a hybridizer
Seed grower/non-seed-grower
Attitude toward ARS - national and local
Attitudes toward the Bulletin
Readership of the Bulletin.

======= Members were further asked to evaluate the ARS in terms of its current performance compared to the past: The ARS is... Total As in the overall ratings, the South, Northeast and Midwest tend to give the ARS its highest marks on "doing the best possible job", while the West Coast tends to give it the lowest. Doing the best possible job   45%   Is much improved - but below expectations   21%   About the same as it always   21%   Has gone slightly downhill   3%   Has declined markedly   --