Quantitative research & evaluation methods:

Ongoing tracking studies

Tracking studies are multi-part survey research that enable an organization to measure change over time. There are many national opinion polls that are tracking studies, including the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which measures arts attendance across the U.S. every five years. Individuals organizations can spearhead something similar. Tracking studies are nearly always quantitative (survey) research, since in order to identify statistically significant changes we need large enough sample sizes that qualitative research typically doesn’t allow for.

Many non-profits have goals for change in their audience – whether it’s wanting to reach a new, underserved segment of the overall population or needing to improve satisfaction in particular areas. Findings from tracking studies serve as one measure of success, providing organizations with key information about how well they’re reaching their goals.

Tracking studies can be started at any time. Often we will begin with one set of goals, measure those, and then add/delete questions to the survey to meet new goals each year, keeping the key tracking questions the same.

We first determine what the clients’ objectives are and how best the tracking study can serve them. Once we’ve finalized the target audience (e.g. subscribers, freshmen, lapsed members, etc.) we write the survey and determine the best methodology. After overseeing the fielding, which could be on-site, online, phone, or any other quantitative method, we create a report which will enable us together to easily track and monitor changes over time.

re:search newsletter

More info

Keep in touch. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, re:search, and be the first to know about our reports, articles, professional dialogues, and more.

Our blog. Your comments. Jump in.

March 14, 2014 | Nicole Baltazar

Multiculturalism is key for creating inclusive arts experiences


Last month, Coca-Cola aired its now-famous Super Bowl ad depicting people from various racial, ethnic, and cultural groups singing “America the Beautiful” together in different languages. Among the instant outpouring of polarized reactions to this ad rang much praise for its depiction of a multicultural America. Yet the ad provoked a slew of negative responses as well. Many of the ad’s detractors questioned whether this multicultural America could ever feel as cohesive as an America whose citizens speak a common language, and therefore have taken great strides toward assimilating into a common culture.

More »

In practice...

Our tracking research has included: 

  • a top 5 U.S. symphony interested in seeing how satisfaction changed among subscribers over a decade of enhancements
  • an art museum trying to broaden its visitor base to include more people of color
  • a professional school wanting to keep its finger on the pulse of student satisfaction across all areas
  • a ballet company targeting younger audiences, with goals for each year over four years 
  • an arts festival launching a new website