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9 CHAPTER THREE SYNTHESIS SURVEY DEVELOPMENT, PEER REVIEW, AND FOCUS GROUP AND METHODS To ensure that the most relevant safety issues were addressed A total of eight individuals expressed interest in partici- in this study, the research team sought input from a peer pating; however, only six of these individuals were available review group of subject matter experts in the field of pupil during the time frames suggested for the teleconference. transportation. The objective of the focus group was to dis- Given the snowballing recruitment technique, it is difficult cuss safety concerns relevant to school bus operations, driver to estimate the total number of individuals invited for the selection and training, barriers to safety (and methods for teleconference; therefore, the exact response rate cannot be addressing them), and emergency/security issues. In addition, calculated. a major objective of the focus group was to obtain detailed feedback regarding the content and structure of the study's draft survey instrument, which was constructed based on METHODS AND RESULTS information gathering during the work plan development Before the conference call, each participant was e-mailed an phase of the present study. informed consent document (required for study participation), a draft of the synthesis survey, and a PowerPoint presentation PARTICIPANT RECRUITMENT FOR FOCUS GROUPS that was used to guide the call. Potential participants for the focus group were recruited by At the beginning of the call, the facilitator was intro- means of telephone and e-mail. Each potential participant duced and reviewed the purpose of the discussion by means was given a description of the CTBSSP Synthesis Program of the PowerPoint presentation (see Appendix B). Follow- and an overview of this synthesis. They were informed of the ing brief participant introductions and a general discussion importance of sharing their experience to ensure that the most of school bus safety, attention was turned to the draft sur- important topics in the field of pupil transportation were vey and the scope of topics addressed. The draft survey was addressed in this synthesis and were invited to participate in discussed item by item and participants commented on the an hour-long teleconference focus group with their peers (see wording and response format of each. In addition, new Appendix A for the recruitment e-mail). items could be added if a participant(s) believed that a spe- cific, relevant topic was not included, and items were grouped Participants were recruited using publicly available contact by topic area. information from the following websites and publications: Following the teleconference, participants were encour- National Association for Pupil Transportation aged to send their notes and edits to the survey to the research National Association of State Directors of Pupil Trans- team. Using this information, the draft survey was revised portation Services and redistributed to the focus group for a second round of National School Transportation Association input, which allowed participants to reconsider the instru- School Bus Fleet ment as a whole and to make final comments and sugges- School Transportation News. tions. The survey instrument was finalized (see Appendix C) based on participant edits and suggestions. The final survey instrument included multiple choice, yes/no, quantitative, Individuals identified on these websites as contacts were Likert scale, and open-ended response formats. recruited for the focus group, and a "snowballing" technique was used whereby each person contacted was encouraged to extend the invitation to other colleagues. In some cases, the PARTICIPANT RECRUITMENT FOR SURVEY e-mail invitation was forwarded to listservs of organizations and associations. In addition, school bus fleet managers and Recruitment of participants for the survey was similar to that directors of transportation from geographically diverse areas of the focus group, but was much larger in scale. For example, of the United States were recruited in an attempt to have a vari- the National Association for Pupil Transportation website ety of experiences and perspectives represented. includes links to national school bus organizations, state

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10 organizations, trade publications, and other interest groups. tactic was encouraged, whereby potential participants were Each of these links includes pages of contacts that were used urged to distribute the survey widely to their colleagues and to send hundreds of e-mail invitations to complete the survey. employees. In several cases, state directors and fleet man- agers responded, indicating that they had distributed the E-mail invitations (see Appendix D) included a full survey to all of the school bus drivers under their jurisdic- description of the synthesis program and the objectives of tion. Finally, approximately 700 flyers were distributed the present synthesis, the online survey URL, a recruitment along with the programs at the annual School Transporta- flyer that could be used to advertise the study, and also the tion News conference and trade show in Reno, Nevada (July pdf survey as an attachment. Again, a snowball recruitment 2630, 2008).