CEC Theses and Dissertations


An Instrument for the Distribution and collection of Data Using Computer-Based Technology

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Computer Education


Center for Computer and Information Sciences


Thomas MacFarland

Committee Member

Gerorge K. Fornshell

Committee Member

John Kingsburry


A diskette-based instrument for an electronic survey, created by the writer, was used to distribute questionnaires to and collect responses from technology educators. The instrument contained five elements: a menu control subsystem, a color storyboard instructional subsystem, a distribution and collection procedure, a hardcopy print facility, and a free software download subsystem. An IBM compatible diskette was programmed to coordinate each of the five elements. The writer measured the effectiveness of this electronic survey and proposed changes to improve it.

Two questionnaires were made, a paper-based questionnaire and a diskette-based questionnaire. Two samples of 100 technology education users were selected at random from the same population. The population in this study was technology educators who belong to the International Technology Education Association (ITEA). One group was sent a preview letter and was asked if they would be willing to participate in a paper-based survey. Respondents were sent the paper-based questionnaire. A different preview letter was sent to a second sample of 100 technology education users. Diskettes were sent to the respondents of the second preview letter. A textbook and free software were offered as an incentive to both groups.

At the end of the 6-week collection period, 30 people had asked for the diskette-based questionnaire and 33 people had asked for the paper-based questionnaire. Thirty diskette-based questionnaires were mailed and 14 were returned. Thirty-three paper-based questionnaires were mailed and 26 were returned. Three extra paper-based questionnaires and one extra diskette were collected from colleagues of respondents who copied the questionnaire in their respective medium. The extra surveys were not included in the reported statistics. The response rate of returned preview letters from the paper-based survey sample was greater than the response rate of returned preview letters from the diskette-based survey sample. The response rate of returned paper-based surveys was greater than the response rate of diskette- based surveys (Response rates are based on chi-square analysis of difference at the .05 level of significance).

There were two main null hypotheses tested in this study. The first was "The difference between the number of diskette-based preview letter responses and the number of paper-based preview letter responses is zero." This null hypothesis was not rejected. The second null hypothesis was "The difference between the number of returned diskette-based survey responses and the number of paper based survey responses is zero." This null hypothesis was rejected.

Seven recommendations were made following this study. First, hardware and software should match the users if the diskettes are used as a survey medium. The difference in hardware and software configuration between the diskette-based survey medium and that of the technology users prevented the completion of the diskette-based media approach for several people who were contacted by follow-up phone calls. Technology users in this study were unwilling to bear the burden of converting from one size floppy diskette to another or locating a machine that had a compatible drive. Second, a handwritten cover page and a real stamp on the return mailer should be used. The survey administrators thought that this was an important feature of this survey and should be used in future surveys. Third, a preview letter should be used to save costs. Once contact between the survey administrators and a user was made by the preview letter response rates improved. The preview letter responses could be used to let respondents indicate what size diskette they need so that only the correct diskette would be mailed. The use of a preview letter could also help researchers find people who are more likely to respond. Fewer diskettes are mailed and returned diskettes can be recycled. Fourth, attractive incentives should be offered for surveys that use diskettes. The incentive has to motivate users to solve technical problems when these arise.

Fifth, an eight week collection period should be used to give researchers time to contact delinquent users and solve hardware and software problems. Sixth, users should be technologically oriented. Seventh, the appearance of the instrument should be attractive. The writer valued the promotional impact of the diskette and thinks that it could outweigh poor response rates when advertising and promotion goals are important. Commercial printing services should be used to add this feature to the instrument.

The survey instrument was tested at Davis Publications, Incorporated (Davis), Worcester Massachusetts. Survey administrators and personnel at Davis were pleased with the appearance of the physical diskette and the programmed software on it. The personnel in the Public Relations and the Marketing Departments at Davis thought that the instrument had prestige value. They are interested in use of the medium in future projects.

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