Thursday, April 21, 2011

Using surveys

   When we studied media literacy, students helped design the survey about media use (including a separate survey for parents), took the survey, then analyzed the results.  We did most of the activities F2F in class so we could do small group work, and also to support Excel use, which is one tool that doesn’t come easily to most students.  Among our findings:  kids text a great deal more than parents do, while parents watch more TV, but both groups use Facebook. 

    I use the free version of SurveyMonkey, which is amazingly versatile – good for gathering information, and for assessing understanding – and middle school students seem to both enjoy taking surveys and seeing the aggregate results. 

    The free version of SurveyMonkey is limited, though.  In the past, I used a paper survey for media literacy, and was able to separate out the results by gender.  I discovered this wasn’t possible using the free version, since it doesn’t allow for downloading the results.  It did allow us to ask about how students use lots of media tools, though, by using the matrix of choices.  Next year, I’ll use identical surveys, one for boys, and one for girls.  (Good ol’ workarounds!)

    As the year is winding down I’m going to use another survey, replacing the past paper survey with SurveyMonkey again. Some things I want to ask are: which activities students enjoyed the most and least, what they wished we had done but didn’t, what they thought about working with Moodle, advice for next year’s students.  In the past, it took me so long to go through the year-end paper surveys, I didn’t have a chance to share the results with my students.  This year, they’ll be able to see the totals right away; we can discuss the results as a class.  Then we can all learn something from the survey, not just me.

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