My name is Kristy Jang, and I am a Master’s student at the University of British Columbia, Canada. I am interested in evaluating educational programs in developing countries and professional development programs in higher education. Since last fall, I have had the pleasure to help evaluate a graduate-level professional development program which is based on a group-mentoring model. As part of our evaluation, we are looking at the development of social networks among stakeholders (e.g., trainees, mentors) and trainee achievements. In collecting data on these topics, we have encountered some helpful resources:
Rad Resource: First, Lime Survey is a free online survey development tool: www.limesurvey.org. You can collect data via e-mails with a link to the online survey, and the responses are automatically compiled within the server. You can export the data in different file formats (e.g., Excel, SPSS) and obtain data summary statistics and graphs. With regards to collecting social networks data, the most useful feature was “array_filter” function, which allowed us to ask questions with response choices that were filtered out from a previous question. For example, we first asked, “Which of the following people do you interact with?” Then, the respondent’s choices became the possible answer choices of the subsequent questions such as, “Whom do you ask for help when you have a challenging problem in your research?” and “Who do you talk to when you have a new innovative idea?” The social networks data were analyzed through UCINET software, which allowed us to visualize interactions among stakeholders as sociograms in three-dimensional space.
Rad Resource: Next, Google Docs is a helpful resource for simpler survey questions: www.gmail.com. Although it does not have complex features such as the “array_filter, it is more user-friendly with 71 design choices. Thus, it is more suitable for beginners and helpful for increasing response rates. Moreover, Google Docs Forms helps enhance communications among the evaluators as documents can be stored within the server and jointly edited by anyone who has access to the g-mail account.
Rad Resource: Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro software helps you collect information that could be better presented in a table rather than a survey format (e.g., a list of workshops and conferences respondents attended, including date, title, place, and the respondents’ roles). The software works similarly as the other online survey development tools. It sends out an e-mail with a link to the document, and when responses are submitted, it automatically compiles them in your computer as a separate file. Make sure that the PDF file you created is set to be writable, allowing respondents to save data in the document using Acrobat Reader – from the “Advanced” on the menu bar click on “Extend features in Acrobat Reader.”
Want to learn more about Kristy’s work? Join us at the American Evaluation Association’s Annual Conference, Evaluation 2010, in San Antonio this November and check out the poster exhibition on Wednesday evening.