Large-Scale Comparative School-Based Survey Research: Challenges and Solutions for Sampling, Fieldwork and Informed Consent

Natalia Waechter, Veronika Kalmus, Giovanna Mascheroni, Signe Opermann


Based on our experiences with implementing the comparative school-based ySKILLS survey in six European countries, this article investigates the preparation of fieldwork in school-based surveys. This includes the sampling strategies and recruitment of schools and (secondary level) students, the continuous collaboration with schools, as well as collecting parental consent. By interviewing the national survey experts, we found that previously described challenges of school-based survey research have become specifically relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results further show that collaborating with schools is demanding and that collecting active parental consent involves problems regarding a non-response bias as well as ethical concerns about children’s rights. For future research, we have identified seven general preconditions and facilitating factors regarding the re­cruitment and collaboration with schools for a successful implementation of school-based surveys. Regarding informed consent, we provide seven ethical and practical recommenda­tions for research policy and future studies.


School-based survey, fieldwork, informed consent, sampling, response rate, COVID-19

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Copyright (c) 2023 Natalia Waechter, Veronika Kalmus, Giovanna Mascheroni, Signe Opermann

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