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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Great topics for investigation


The address for the Socialsense blog
The Thebarton Senior College Moodle

Contact Malcolm at

You have chosen some great topics for your investigations.

Here they are:

Yahye: Divorce rates
Lok: Smoking around young children
Majak: Gender reassignment
Leah: Governments role in population growth
Khem: Immunisation compulsion
Ornella: Cyberbullying
Francois: Same-sex marriage
Darcy: Advertising and body image of women 16-25
Tahera: Abortion legalisation
George: Raising retiring age
Maria : Wages for sheltered workshops

I have listed them here because we should know what others are doing, in case we see something relevant to others - pass on the info! 

You have developed your topic, focus questions, hypothesis and done much of the background for the topic by now. You should now start using the template on Moodle to do the Introduction.

Just interesting!

Across cultures, people feel increased activity in different parts of the body as their mental state changes.

"Some beautiful, information-dense cartography, which provide a moment of self-reflection like a giant, geographic mirror.”  Seth Dixon

People get the general shape of the world when the draw a map of the world from memory.

Maps after maps, some quirky some just plain interesting and useful.

Marvel at these global heat maps of popular cycling and running routes. A glimpse into the geography of elevated heart rates and sweaty pits is now available thanks to Strava, maker of GPS-enabled exercise-tracking gizmos. Over time, the San Francisco-based company has collected a lot of user data. Now it's put the info in play in a giant, visual way, with these global heat maps showing the movements of the hardcore huffing-and-puffing populace. The maps include 77,688,848 rides and 19,660,163 runs for a blink-inducing total of 220 billion data points.

Surveys are not interviews

The address for the Socialsense blog
The Thebarton Senior College Moodle

Contact Malcolm at

Some guidelines and hints on surveys

What is a survey questionnaire?
Survey questionnaires present a set of questions to a subject who with his/her responses will provide data to a researcher.

The design is critical
The key to obtaining good data through a survey is to develop a good survey questionnaire. It is worth spending the time designing your survey to ensure you gain the information you want and that the persons surveyed understand your questions.

Some hints and guidelines with design

* The key to developing a good survey questionnaire is to keep it short while ensuring that you capture all of the information that you need.

* Before you begin to design your survey questionnaire, you developed a set of focus questions for your research. Your survey questions should relate in some way to your focus questions. These questions should serve as a plan for the survey and a question should be rejected if it cannot be seen as helping you answer one of the focus questions in some way.

Types of Questions:

There are two different types of questions that can be used to collect information. The first is called a fixed response question and the second is called an open question. It is important to understand when and how to use these questions when designing your survey.

1. Fixed response
These are questions that offer the respondent a closed set of responses from which to choose. Such a question makes data collection and analysis much simpler and they take less time to answer. Fixed response questions are best suited in the following situations:
• when you have a thorough understanding of the responses so that you can appropriately develop the answer choices
• when you are not trying to capture new ideas or thoughts from the respondent.

Examples of a fixed response question

Do you have a driver's license?
( ) Yes
( ) No
How many hours a day do you spend doing homework?
( ) 0 to 1 hour
( ) 2 to 3 hours
( ) 4 to 5 hours
( ) more than 5 hours

* When writing the selection of responses for a fixed response question, you should make certain that the list covers all possible alternatives that the respondent might select AND that each of the answers is unique (ie they do not overlap).

* For valid data collation it is suggested to use the "Don't know" and other option sparingly.
* You should try to ensure that your respondents are capable of answering the majority of the questions on your survey questionnaire.
* It is suggested that with some fixed choice questions it is better to add a part (b) to the question requesting other choices they wish to make or the opportunity to explain their response.

2. Scaling question (also fixed response but different)

Sometimes you will be interested in obtaining a person's opinion on a topic, subject, product, event, etc.... To capture varying degrees of emotion/opinion about a subject, it is best to use a scale question. A scaling question asks respondents to explain the degree with which they feel about a certain topic, subject, event, etc... For example:

Please describe how you felt about the Harmony day.
(1)Unsatisfied (2)Somewhat (3)Satisfied (4)Satisfied (5)Extremely Satisfied

* In some cases you may wish to have a part b to the scaling question to provide the opportunity for the surveyed to explain why they circled the number they did. Few will take this opportunity but it is worth putting it in your survey.

3. Ranking question (also fixed response but diferent again)

A ranking question asks respondents to explain how they feel about something by comparing it to other items in a list. For example:

Please rank the following Harmony Day activities in order of preference (starting with 1 for your favourite activity).

___ Music
___ Displays
___ Dancing activities
___ Food

* A ranking asks respondents to list their responses in order of preference. This type of question leads you to an answer where the respondent is comparing one thing to another rather than giving you their feeling about each individual item as was the case with the scaling question.

* The disadvantage to a ranking is that if the respondent feels the same about two or more items, they are still forced to sort them into a ranking. The results of a ranking basically tell you which is the most preferred and which is the least preferred item on the list, but you do not know from a ranking if the respondent likes or dislikes any or all of the items on the list.

* It is often a good idea to have part b to a ranking question to provide the respondent with the opportunity to state any other option/s they would have liked to rank.

* Do not have a “other”: category because it makes collation invalid.

4. Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions, are questions where there is no list of answer choices from which to choose. Respondents are simply asked to write their response to a question.

Here is an example:

Example of a open-ended Question
What else would you like to see happen on Harmony Day?

* It is best to use open-ended questions when you are exploring new ideas and you don't really know what to expect from the respondents.

* Open-ended questions let you get more insight into the respondents' thoughts and ideas about a subject.

* The disadvantages to using open-ended questions is that it can be much more time consuming and difficult to analyze the data.

* In general you should try to minimize the number of open-ended questions in your survey questionnaire.

* If you find yourself designing a survey questionnaire where the majority of the questions are open-ended, then you may need to do more exploratory research to get a better foundation of knowledge for the subject you are researching.

General tips to creating a good survey questionnaire:
Here are some tips and tricks to help you ensure you are developing a good survey questionnaire:

* Clearly state your intentions with the research.
At the top of your survey, write a brief statement explaining why you are collecting the information and reassure each respondent that the information is entirely anonymous. If you need to know specifics about a person, respect their privacy by identifying them as subject1, subject2, etc...

* Include instructions with your survey questionnaire
What may seem obvious to you probably is not very obvious to someone else. To ensure that you collect valid survey results, make sure you include instructions on how to answer the survey questionnaire. There should probably be a short introductory set of instructions at the top of the survey questionnaire, and additional instructions for specific questions as needed.
Your overall instructions may be something like:
Please mark the appropriate box next to your answer choice with an "x" ( X ). Please answer all of the questions to the best of your ability.

* Don't ask for personal information unless you need it to help answer your focus questions.

* Keep the questions short and concise
The wording for survey questions should be short and concise. Each question should be clearly stated so that there is no misunderstanding about what is being asked. The best way to ensure your questions are well worded is to test them by having other people review and test your survey before you distribute it to the full sample.
Ask only one question at a time (the double barreled question)
This is a very common mistake in survey questionnaires and one that will severely impact the results of your data. When you are writing a question, you must make sure that you are only asking one question at a time.

Here is an example of a double-barreled question:

How have teachers and students at your school responded
to Harmony Day?
( ) Satisfied
( ) Unsatisfied

It should have been:
How have teachers at your school responded to Harmony Day?
( ) Satisfied
( ) Unsatisfied
How have students at your school responded to Harmony Day?
( ) Satisfied
( ) Unsatisfied

* Make sure the questions are unbiased
When developing your survey questionnaire, you want to make certain that you are asking the questions in a neutral way, ie that you are not leading them toward a particular answer.

* Here is an example of a leading question:

Do you think that the new cafeteria lunch menu offers a better variety
of healthy foods than the old one?
( ) Yes
( ) No
( ) No Opinion

Here is a non-leading question

How do you feel about the new cafeteria lunch menu compared to the old one?
( ) The new menu offers a better variety of healthy foods
( ) The old menu offers a better variety of healthy foods
( ) The selections are similar
( ) No opinion
Ask questions that can be answered by your subjects
Make sure that the questions you are asking are questions that people will be able to answer.

* Order/group questions according to subject
If you have more than six questions in your questionnaire, then you should make an effort to organize your questions so the respondents can answer them as quickly as possible. A good way to organize the questions is to group them together by subject. This way your respondents can focus their thoughts and answer a series of questions around these thoughts. Put the open questions (not part b open questions) at the end of the survey.

* Present the questions in a clean and organized layout
A clean layout will make it much simpler for people to respond to the questions and for you to collect the data. Make sure that your method for marking answers is well explained and that your answer boxes are consistent throughout the questionnaire. Look at this example of a survey.

* Your sample
Make sure that you get a sample of adequate number (at least 20) and one that meets the sample requirements of your research i.e. your survey sample may require a gender balance or gender focus, across ages or of a particular age, across ethnic groups or just one group etc. These sample requirements will depend on the focus of your research. Discuss this sample issue with your teacher.

* Test the survey questionnaire
Once you have developed your survey questionnaire, you should conduct a small test (5 -10 people) to make sure that respondents clearly understand the questions you are asking and that you are capturing the information that you need for your study.

Types of questions for your survey design.

Suggested % in brackets after question type. This is only a guide.
1. Forced choice question:
• Yes/no (15%)
• Selection of choices (15%)

2. Ranking question (20%)
A nominated number of choices (cannot have suggested others – make that part b)

3. Scaled question (20%)
Some form of scale response from 0-10

4. Open-ended response – an open question
• As a question in itself (10%)
• As a follow up open question to either the forced choice, scale or ranking question. The question could be asking for explanation of forced choice, ranking or scale decision or other options that the interviewee would have liked to have as a choice (20%)

The documents to support the devleopment of you survey are on the TSC Moodle for you to download. They are:

* Interview planning document
* Survey planning document
* Sample survey to use as a template


What do you think?
Have a look at and critique this survey about the 1960 youth. Is it good or bad?

Primary and Secondary sources

The address for the Socialsense blog
The Thebarton Senior College Moodle

Contact Malcolm at

Gathering and harvesting!

Regardless of the topic, you should be doing secondary research at this stage to establish your knowledge and understanding of the topic you have chosen to research. Once you have comprehensive secondary knowledge it is then time to start deciding on the primary research you wish to conduct.

Just a reminder about the two types of research:

* Secondary research is based on the findings from other people's research. It involves the gathering of the results of other's research from books, reports or the Internet. Selections or summaries are made of the research allowing for evidence to be gathered to support your conclusions.

Secondary research may include:

* statistical analysis where information is readily available from the census studies, Australian Bureau of Statistics, local councils and other government bodies, is analysed to give a notion of the need for a particular target market for a project. This may be useful for establishing if there is a genuine need for a project.

* information research, including all forms of print, that is, texts, magazines, journals, pamphlets. It also includes electronic sources. These need to be checked for reliability and relevance. Anyone can publish on the Internet. Print sources should not be too out of date. Use your school and local librarians, they are trained to help you find information.

* Primary research
is the research you generate by asking questions, conducting trials and collating results. This research can take the form of quantitative research ('countable' data collection) or qualitative research(opinion/knowledge data gathering).

The most common way of collecting primary data is through surveys/questionnaires and interviews.

* A survey is usually general and covers a wide range of issues. It is designed to find information rather than to investigate specific questions about an issue. We tend to use surveys when we don't know about something and we want to identify the most important ideas, questions and issues.

* A questionnaire usually focuses more on a particular topic or issue. We tend to use these when we know something about the topic and we have some hunches about what might be the most important issue or questions to investigate.

* Interviews can be face-to-face or over the telephone or Internet. It is crucial to have a list of questions prepared. This helps prevent being side tracked and ensuring the information you require is collected. These questions may provide insight into the development of your project, as you should endeavour to seek expert advice. After all designers often work as part of a team when brainstorming ideas and solutions to problems. Many have spent their lives building up knowledge in specific areas. The yellow pages are an easy way to get in touch with such experts.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

SA Parliament Excursion on 16 June

A trip to SA Parliament House

The Stage 2 Society and Cultures class excursion to Parliament House, North Terrace, Adelaide is on 16 June 2014 at 9am.
Click here to have a read of the Parliament website to gather some information on the Parliament of SA.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Speeches just don't happen!!

Image above: Obama, one of the best orators.   Some other popular speeches.

The address for the Socialsense blog
The Thebarton Senior College Moodle

Contact Malcolm at

 Think, know, prepare, practice and present

When starting to work on your advocacy speech you must think:

The following is a useful planning guide for your speech

Tips for your Forum speech worth considering
  • Once you are called upon to make your speech, pause for a couple of moments before actually starting your delivery. If you've had to walk up to a platform or over to a rostrum, this gives you time to steady your breath. If you are nervous as a speaker, it gives you time to take a few shallow breaths and calm those nerves. In any event, it gives the audience an opportunity to settle down and focus on you and your message. But the pause should be a few seconds only.
  • You should convey a sense of enthusiasm for the subject. This will effect your delivery and how your speech is received.
  • Occasionally alter the speed, volume and tone of your delivery. Speaking slower or faster and quieter or louder and being more cheerful or more serious all adds dramatic effect and keeps the attention of your audience.
  • Regularly sweep your eyes left-centre-right and back and front-middle-rear and back, so that you engage all members of your audience.
  • It is good to use your hands expressively - but do not wave your arms around which will make you look manic.
  • Make a dramatic opening which seizes the attention with the very first words. This might be a stirring statement: "This year we are going to make a fundamental transformation of our whole organisation". It might be a challenging question: "How can we turn ourselves into an even more successful society?" Whatever you do, don't ask a question that invites a cynical answer from your audience: "Are we the best country?"
  • Have a very clear structure. A good technique is to tell your audience what you are going to say, tell them, and then tell them what you have said. A good structure is for the core message to be three linked points which can be sub-divided as necessary.
  • Another possible structure which can work well, if it is appropriate is, to use a narrative or a story. Stories or case studies really engage listeners and give a speech direction and flow.
  • Use striking adjectives and adverbs - emotionalising. Not simply: "We face many challenges" but "We face many exciting challenges". Not simply: "We will work on this human rights issue" but "We      need to work energetically on this issues".
  • Make moderate use of alliteration in phrases or sentences. For example, some phrases: "broadband Britain""the digital divide""silver surfers". For example, some sentences: "The ballot is stronger than the bullet" (Abraham Lincoln, 1856) or "Now let us fulfil our mandate and our mission" (Gordon Brown, Labour Party Conference 2002) or "At our best when at our boldest" (Tony Blair, Labour Party Conference 2002).
  • Repetition can be very effective. Martin Luther King was the absolute master of judicious repetition. For example: in his Washington speech of 28 August 1963, he used the phrases "I have a dream .." and "Let freedom ring ..." again and again (seven times and eight times respectively). The same technique was used by Barack Obama in his speech following the 2008 New Hampshire primary when he repeatedly used the phrase "Yes we can".
  • One way of commanding attention is to use attention-seeking, short sentences. Tony Blair was very fond of "I say this to you" or "Let me be clear".
  • KISS (Keep it simple, stupid). Don't try to impress with over-complicated terminology or words.
  • If  you are intending to use statistics - and some well-chosen figures can add credibility and authority to your arguments - be sure that you understand them, that they are meaningful, and that they are both reliable and up-to-date. Be ready in the question and answer session, or if approached later, to be able to source your statistics and supply the full context. You should mention the source of your stats/information in your speech.
  • Make clever use of the pause. If you expect laughter or applause or you would like to create a sense of drama, pause for a couple of seconds, before continuing your speech.
  • Finish with a strong, affirmative statement, possibly referring back to the opening sentence or question (note how many film scripts end with a variation of a line from the beginning of the movie).

Further links to look at:

Overcoming speech making nerves

Learn from the master speech makers

Image above: "I Have A Dream" Speech: Dr. King, addressing the crowd at the March on Washington, delivers his famous I Have a Dream speech. (Photo Credit: Corbis)

The address for the Socialsense blog
The Thebarton Senior College Moodle

Contact Malcolm at

Famous speeches

Here is an amazing selection of famous and not so famous speeches.  You will notice that there is a formulae for great speeches but that formulae has been broken regularly broken by the masters of speech making over time.

* Famous American speeches (some audio)

* Famous short speeches

In preparation for your speech tomorrow you may like to see how you will be assessed and a PowerPoint presentation on oral presentations. Both are on the TSC Moodle under the Social Ethics Forum section.