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2011 Census testing strategy

The 2011 Census testing strategy focuses on conducting a more effective and efficient census.

Operational testing

Operational testing focuses on changes to the business process and elements of the 2006 process that did not work as well as they could have.

Streamlined operational testing is a key focus of the testing strategy. Essentially this means that the field testing has been reduced, in comparison to that which was completed for the 2006 Census. One small test in March 2009 replaced larger, more numerous field tests. A number of cognitive interviews and mass completions were also undertaken.

Some business process changes are also being tested without actively involving the general public. A range of techniques, including operations research, qualitative research and simulated situations, are being/have been used to test modifications to the business process.

Cognitive testing

Cognitive testing is a pre-testing technique used to test how well questions function in practice. It involves one-to-one interviews with respondents who complete a census form while being observed by the interviewer. Using this technique, the form design team is able to identify questions that are difficult for the respondent to answer, and to pinpoint the probable causes.

Cognitive interviewing of both the English and Māori/English forms is almost complete. As of May 2009, around 140 cognitive interviews had been conducted in 14 territorial authorities around the country.

Mass completions

Mass completion testing is used to test questions with targeted groups of people. In a typical mass completion, respondents self-complete a short version of the questionnaire in a group setting. This can give an indication about how well different questions might work with certain types of people.

As of May 2009, mass completion of three questionnaire variants had been conducted in 8 territorial authorities, with a total of 445 tests undertaken with 16 different groups.

March 2009 Census Test

The March 2009 Census Test involved approximately 1,250 randomly selected households in the Canterbury region. It aimed to trial parts of the process which have been refined including Internet initiatives, field collection strategies, and proposed minor changes to the census forms. Follow-up telephone interviews on a sample of willing respondents were undertaken in April 2009.

For more information see the March 2009 Census Test webpage.

2010 Census Dress Rehearsal

The dress rehearsal was undertaken on 9 March 2010 – it represented a significant milestone in the census programme. Using the 2010 Census Dress Rehearsal to test end-to-end system and business process functionality has been a high priority.

The dress rehearsal enabled us to implement and test many of our business processes and systems in a real-world environment one year before census day.

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