Computer Based Questionnaire Software

Tiller, Dale tiller at irc.lan.nrc.ca
Wed May 31 07:58:24 EST 1995

The National Research Council of Canada has developed new
patent-pending software to automatically administer on-screen
questionnaires to computer users. Please read the software
description below; if you are interested, please reply to us directly
by email.  Thanks in advance.
The traditional method of obtaining questionnaire data uses a paper
form that each respondent completes at their leisure.  This has
obvious practical limitations if one is interested in surveying
opinion several times in one day, or if it was important to
administer a questionnaire in response to some specific random
enviromental condition (e.g. the office suddenly becomes cold).
In general, paper questionnaires can be disruptive to respondents,
and labour intensive and expensive to administer and score.
A computer-based questionnaire would solve many of these problems,
and be a very efficient and economical method of collecting survey

The National Research Council Canada has developed custom software,
called "ScreenSurvey", which automatically administers questionnaires
on computer users' screens.  When administered, the questionnaire
takes the form of a "window" that appears over other open
applications.  The individual questions are designed using custom
"Form Builder" software.  The Form Builder allows complete flexibility
in the placing of items on the question forms, their size and their
colour.  Graphics can also be placed on the forms to illustrate
a question, or as a custom background.  Questions can have one of
four response types:

1. A list of responses from which the subject may pick only one
(mutually exclusive and exhaustive response list);
2. A list of responses from which the subject may pick as many as
apply (check list);
3. A sliding scale labelled with descriptors: the subject places
a pointer on the scale at a position which best describes their
response (analogue scale);
4. Open-ended text entry box.

More than one of these response types can be combined on a single
question form.

Once created, the questions can be administered in any order,
at dates and times as specified by the experimenter in a separate
data file.  Alternatively, computer users themselves can initiate
a questionnaire whenever they want, simply by clicking on an icon.
Any number of questions may be asked with any frequency.  In addition
certain questions can be defined as "demographic" questions,
which are asked only once; these are questions for which the answers
would not be expected to change over time.  The answers to the
demographic questions can be used to decide which questions are
subsequently asked.  For example, if a user identifies themselves
as being female, they would not subsequently be asked to complete
a checklist of clothing that applied to males, but instead would be
asked to complete a checklist that applied to females.  This feature
can also be used to present questions in a user's language of choice.

The responses to the questions are stored on the host computers
hard disk for collection at the end of the study by the experimenter.
The stored data are easily accessible by spreadsheet
or statistical analysis packages.

If you are interested in this software, or have any comments,
please respond to us directly by email at the above address.  If
you know someone who might be interested but does not read Usenet,
we would appreciate it if you would forward a copy of this message
to them.  Thank you for your time.

Guy R. Newsham, Ph.D.  (newsham at irc.lan.nrc.ca)
Dale K. Tiller, D.Phil.  (tiller at irc.lan.nrc.ca)

Institute for Research in Construction
National Research Council Canada
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0R6

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