Rachel Stenger

Curriculum Vita

Degree & Year in the Program           

Second year PhD Student


Dr. Jolene Smyth and Dr. Kristen Olson

Areas of Specialization          

Survey methodology

About me

Before coming to UNL, I earned a dual master’s degree in sociology and quantitative psychology and a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology from Ball State University in Muncie, IN.
Broadly, my research interest includes examining how questionnaire design decisions (both wording and visual design) affect data quality outcomes. Most recently, I have completed a summer internship with the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), where I contributed to the development of a new online survey which will ask about 14- to 22-year-old’s career plans and interests in STEM. In working on this project, I was able to delve into the literature on specific question wording decisions, such as asking about sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as visual design decisions, such as presenting rating scales vertically versus horizontally. Through this internship, I also learned more about what is involved in pre-testing questionnaires, through cognitive interviewing and pilot testing.

Previously, through a research assistantship with Drs. Kristen Olson and Jolene Smyth, I have worked on projects that have examined how readability formulas relate to data quality on self-administered questionnaires. I have also worked with my advisors on projects that looked at how respondents interact with different question formats across devices and modes (paper, computer, tablet, and smartphone) and that looked at the accuracy of field coding open-ended questions on telephone surveys. These projects have contributed to posters and presentations at the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the Midwest chapter (MAPOR). So far, I have really enjoyed the collaborative atmosphere of the sociology department, both with faculty as well as with fellow graduate students. I am looking forward to expanding my quantitative and survey research skills as well as discovering more specific interests during my time at UNL.

Courses Taught

SOCI 101 Recitation Instructor (Fall 2019)