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Easing Data Entry with Web-Based Tools

Posted on February 15, 2006

Robert C. Pianta (bio) discusses some benefits related to using the web as an interface for questionnaires.


We find a number of advantages again to using the web-based questionnaires or the web as an interface for questionnaires. There is the added savings in time for the teachers who are responsive, but the bigger savings for us, and this is by a long stretch, is savings on the backend in terms of data entry, data storage, and the like. I haven't used many fill-in-the-blank scantron kind of forms, so it may in fact be not that much of a savings on the backend from those, but we find that the information streams directly into our files, and as we're collecting data during a window, we can closely monitor the outliers and we can follow up in a much more rapid fashion. We find that teachers by and large are completing all the questionnaires. We have fewer instances of missing data because we've built into the protocol if they don't fill in item three, they don't go on to the next page, and they're reminded to go back to item three. From our standpoint, it's a huge cost savings; I'm not paying people to just sit and enter data. There are a number of different services and resources you can use to develop web-based interfaces for questionnaires like this. Survey Monkey is a publicly available, I think, service that we have at our university, and most major universities will have within their computing group some capacity to create survey forms that can be distributed and then completed by the web. That's usually available for free to most junior investigators or most faculty.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in April 2005.


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