Methodology - Data collection
Both the teacher and student survey had several common sections. The first section solicited demographic information (gender and age). The teacher and student surveys also asked five questions on the use of the computer, three questions on the challenges (e.g. computer and subject area), and one question on the type of assistance requested from teachers/provided by the teachers. The surveys differed in two areas. The student survey asked students how often the teacher contacted them and for what purpose. The teacher survey also inquired about reasons students withdrew from the online program and how much time they spent on administrative duties versus student responsibilities/contact. A sample survey and interview are included in the appendix.
The surveys were available in several formats. All students received an online link sent through email and a hard copy sent through postal mail. The online GED teachers followed-up with phone calls to encourage students to participate. A designated faculty member at the adult education center who was not associated with the GED program administered several surveys over the telephone. She asked the survey questions with possible options and documented student responses on a hard copy.
After all 22 surveys were received, the first author called all nine students who indicated they were willing to be interviewed. She solicited similar, but deeper, information about the survey questions through phone interviews. For example, a survey question asked students to check a box with how many hours they studied online each week. In the interview we asked them how they felt about the 15-hour requirement and to expand why they felt that way. In another example, the survey asked questions about teacher’s help, but in the interview we also asked if the student relied on a family member or friend’s help.
Surveys were prepared for the teachers and students. They were created by the first author after a review of the literature on computer integration, GED preparation and related topics. The surveys were modeled after other literacy-related surveys (Mesmer, 2006). After the survey was drafted, it was shared with the second and third authors and an outside reviewer who was an expert in adult literacy. Over a three-month period of drafting, reviews, and revisions, the survey was ready to give to the participants in this study.