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GCSE Information Technology Project

Planning your Survey

Before starting your survey, it must be fully planned (for homework). It may be hand-written but would be easier to prepare if it is word processed. You must produce your own plan (not a joint effort). Try to include everything that you will need to do but be brief and to the point at this stage. Use the headings and example notes given below to help you layout your plan in your own words.

(In your lessons you have entered the results of a survey of computer use in Year 7 that had already been carried out for you, you processed the results and produced a short report of your findings. As an example I will include the planning that I did for this survey here (in italics), but be prepared to expand on these comments later in your own report.)

1. Introduction - including the purpose of the survey and the intended audience.

A Survey of Computer Use in Year 7

To find out what experience current Year 7 pupils have had using computers in their primary school and at home.

The results of the survey will be of interest to a teacher for planning lessons that are suitable to the level of experience of the pupils. The head teacher also requested the survey for feedback to primary schools and will require a suitable report of the results.

2. Background information to be collected to help with the task.

(Before you start you must find out something about the topic of your survey from a variety of sources. Make use of the Internet, CD-ROMs, circulars or any other media. Evidence as personal notes or examples to be included in your portfolio, preferably by electronic means.)

A list of feeder primary schools - obtained from the school office. Types of software and hardware available in primary schools - from the County IT Advisor. Rules for designing questions so that clear answers can be obtained - my Open University course-notes.

3. Data that needs to be collected by the survey.

The primary school attended, how often they used a computer, group sizes, programs used.

Type of computer/printer used at home and what it is used for.

4. Design of a table for the data (a database).

Rec No Primary school Frequency of use Group size Home computer
1 Manor once a week 2 IBM PC486
2 Northbourne every day 1 Amstrad

5. Reasons why each field is needed.

Primary school - so that results can be produced for each school.

Frequency of use - to give an estimate of experience provided.

Group size - pupils working in large groups may have little hands-on experience, etc ...

6. How the data will be collected.

Ask all 200 pupils in Year 7 some questions. Use a questionnaire printed on a single sheet of A4 paper. Photocopied (x200) and distributed to form tutors for pupils to fill in during registration time. This will be expensive to reproduce and it may take some time before they are returned (if at all) but it will allow me to get on with other work. One sheet with tick columns for 10-20 persons would greatly reduce printing costs and ensure that the job is done quickly but I would have to go around asking people myself and/or ask someone else to help me.

7. Question design requirements with reasons.

List all possible answers to help the pupil fill it in quickly and to save having to rationalize the answers later before entering them into the computer. Number them on the questionnaire to save time typing in long answers and making typing errors. The use of codes will also reduce the amount of computer memory needed and speed up searches. Using codes will make the database difficult for the reader to interpret so this must be considered when publishing the results later. The questions can be labelled Qu1, Qu2, etc. which can be used as fieldnames. This will keep the field columns narrow enabling the database to be printed as a table across the page.

8. Draft questions to get the data.

Qu1. Which primary school did you go to? 1. Manor, 2. Stephen Freeman , ... etc.

Qu2. How often did you use a computer? 1. Once a day, 2. Once a week, ... etc.

Qu3. Did you usually work alone or in groups? ... etc.

A full set of questions, with choice of answers, should be produced on a separate sheet (in draft) once you have finished this overall plan. (The final questionnaire used may be a combined effort with a partner but you must produce your own draft questions first).

See the page entitled Creating a Questionnaire for some rules to follow when designing your questions and see some examples to help you design a questionnaire when you have finished this overall plan.

9. Checking the database for typing errors and for invalid entries.

Verification - to verify that data has been transferred from the questionnaires to database correctly - someone will read out and visually check that the data is transferred accurately from the questionnaire to the computer.

Validation - to ensure that the database contains only valid entries (within sensible values) - the "multiple choice" facility for single answer questions might be used. Fields set for numeric data can have preset minimum and maximum values and will not allow letters to be entered. Leaving entries blank can also be disallowed if desired. When the database is complete queries could be made to look for possible anomalies: Query Qu6 = 0 and Qu7 = 1, which might mean that they do not have a computer and they use it once a week!

See the page on Error Checking for more information.

Also see this Database Planning Sheet to help you design your database in full once you have finished this overall plan. (The final database may be a combined effort with a partner but you must produce your own plans first).

10. Searches of the database that will need to be made to obtain results from the survey.

Find how many responses there are to each possible answer on the survey?

Both simple and complex queries must be made to narrow or widen the searches. How many pupils have a computer at home? ... and also have a printer? ... and also use it for homework? How many pupils worked either in groups of 1 or in groups of 2? All query tables must be annotated with a suitable translation in normal English.

11. How the results of the survey will be displayed.

Printed table of the whole database. Bar charts or pi charts to show the frequency of response to some questions. Scatter graphs to look for any relationship between the responses to two significant questions. Printed tables showing the searches made. All printouts must have their purpose clearly stated on them.

12. Choice of software with an explanation of its suitability to the task.

To prepare the questionnaire: Microsoft Publisher is good for complicated presentations as you can create boxes and position them and the text accurately on the page. For a simple list of questions plus columns for ticks, either Microsoft Word or Excel will do the job equally well.

To prepare the database: This could be prepared in Microsoft Excel, the data can be displayed in charts and simple searches can be performed, although it is basically a spreadsheet program. FlexiData is better as it provides validation checks as you enter the data and will enable you to perform complex searches. Microsoft Access is a professional data handling package, but it is complicated to use and most pupils are unfamiliar with it. FlexiData is a dedicated data handling package designed specifically for use in education so that it will be easier to use. It is available on all school computers and all pupils have used it throughout their time in school, however pupils are unlikely to have it at home.

To prepare reports: Microsoft Word has the best facilities for entering and editing text. Microsoft Publisher would be more useful where layout is more important, as for a poster or leaflet.

13. Timetable of activities:


To be done by:
  1. Choose a topic for your survey and collect background information.
  2. Homework - Plan and design your project as indicated by the above guidelines.
  3. Prepare a full set of questions with possible answers in draft. (Grade E+)
  4. Prepare a questionnaire or data collection sheet. (Grade D+)
  5. Homework - Perform the survey to collect your data. (Grade D+)
  6. Enter the data into the computer. Into a partner's database (Grade E), or your own (Grade D+).
  7. Homework - Record and illustrate how you performed verification (Grade D+) and validation checks. (Grade C+)
  8. Perform queries to find information from the database to match the purpose of the survey. (Grade F+)
  9. Homework - Annotate your queries to show what information each query tells you (Grade E+) and to specify your questions in normal understandable English. (Grade D+)
  10. Perform complex queries involving AND/OR/NOT and annotate as above. (Grade C+)
  11. Produce results in the form of annotated tables and graphs. (Grade G+)
  12. Discuss with illustrations, how the facilities provided by the software helped you to carry out the various tasks. Explain why the software was chosen. (Grade B+)
  13. Discuss how these facilities helped make the task of accuracy, interrogation and presentation easier. (Grade A+)
  • Present printed evidence of all activities (1 to 9+) by the end of the Autumn Term to qualify for exam entry.

See the Marking Scheme for this part of your project.

Page last updated 23/05/2003 Copyright, I.D.Lee, Didcot Girls' School.
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