Our grade 8 students are currently in the middle of large-scale study, combining both the Worldview and Renaissance components of the Social Studies curriculum. This study contains two sections, first the creation of a worldview survey, and then a study on the Renaissance, comparing the Italian City States to the conditions in contemporary Calgary.
To help with the first component, we’ve had few experts participate in the study, bringing the element of authenticity into the work. A few weeks ago our students Skyped with Wes Fryer, who informed us of some of the recent changes in networking technology, and how they are changing the way information is accessed and shared.
We had another guest speaker in a few weeks ago, Rob Pegg, who’s one of the parents at our school and also a web designer. In his own line of work, Rob has often designed and implemented surveys, and so the teachers asked him to come speak, providing the students with a number of elements to consider when putting together an effective and unbiased survey.
After listening to Rob, the students discovered that making survey questions that pull out someone’s worldview is very difficult. There are so many factors that influence someone’s view of the world, and also the students found it challenging to make ‘objective’ survey questions that highlighted the key elements of someone’s worldview, without being vague, general or leading.
After collaboratively writing the questions, we put the first version of the survey into Survey Monkey, and have since had our grade 9 students test the survey. Also, Survey Monkey has the feature of allowing comments on individual questions, so we asked two classes of grade 9s (who had just finished a math unit on surveys) to provide feedback on all the questions. The grade 9s were able apply the content they recently covered (on topics such as ‘question bias’, ‘answer bias’ and ‘leading questions’) to give focused feedback to the grade 8s on their questions.
The grade 8 are currently revising the questionnaire, and will be releasing it publicly in the new year – hoping to receive as many responses as they can from around the globe.