Reflection on Survey Design & Data Collection




What was the Process used to collect survey data and how the survey was implemented?

Google Forms survey tool – Survey was distributed to learners by school email and then followed up in school messaging systems. Learners filled in the survey on school computers or using their cellphones.



What specific challenges did you come across when collecting survey data – challenges with teachers, children and parents.
Learners were fairly apathetic in filling in the survey , possibly because it was a bit long and it took some effort to complete. Finding time in the school day was difficult too. However if we didn’t find time then , not many would do it in their own time. Teachers were reasonably open to the idea , but didn’t want to give up much time in class. Two of the questions took most of the time. The GPS home question and the distance to school question . They used outside tools and where very necessary but caused the most frustration. If that could be streamlined it would be helpful.



Would you do anything different next time?
Shorter Survey , try to eliminate any questions which didn’t have any value , try to make the GPS and school distance questions easier to do on mobile phone. Don’t leave students to do it on their own time , rather squeeze dedicated slots into a day at school. Rotating learners through the school computer rooms is a helpful strategy if available.



Any tips that will help other schools in the future go through this process?
Buy in at school management level about dedicating the time in the school day to do the survey.


Problems learners had with regard to filling in survey

  • Understanding some of the questions and some did not apply to me.
  • I live at Waterloo Hostel so most of the questions didn’t apply to me.
  • The option to add more than one location that you travel to and from.
  • Some questions were unclear for me to understand.
  • Trying to figure out what to do in the extra navigation links.
  • I didn’t understand some of the questions.
  • Some of the questions confused me.
  • Consider the girls that dont go home after school and go to sport outside of school
  • Some of the questions weren’t very clear and when I pressed the wrong button for whether I took a car, bus or taxi etc. and i tried to change it, it wouldn’t allow me to.


Earlier Articles in the Series 

Part 1  Sustainable Transport Collaboration

Part 2  Data Gathering for Sustainable Transport 


Data Gathering for Sustainable Student Transport




After receiving a list of possible questions around school transport from Dan,  I started the process of adding them into a Google Form, so that capturing the survey data would be far easier. I then added what I thought were pertinent questions and circulated the final result amongst our email group for feedback. After that feedback and some additional feedback from someone in Transport Modelling we generated the form below.

Transport Survey that went out to Learners at WBHS & WGHS


Getting Students & Staff to Fill in the Form

The next challenge was to actually get the learners and staff to fill out the form. The main issue was the GPS co-ordinates question as you needed to use an external web tool, which took time. The grades we were most successful with were GR8 & GR9. They have a weekly lesson in the computer room which allowed us a clearly defined time to do the survey. It was much harder to get the GR10-12’s to participate in the survey. All in all, we bugged people for about 4 weeks to get as much Data as we did.


The Results

In the end we managed to collect the following Raw Data. This then needed to be processed for input errors and refined into meaningful Data. The WWF paid for the services of an external firm to do this processing. The results can be seen in the PDF below.


Brett Cohen_Survey Results_Scholar Transport.pptx


Earlier Articles in the Series 

Part 1  Sustainable Transport Collaboration


Sustainable Transport Collaboration




At the beginning of 2017 a friend & colleague of mine who runs the Environmental Club at the school where I work, was invited to be part of a project with the WWF to reduce carbon emissions. The focus of project was environmentally sound changes in school transport. School transport is a major contributer to carbon emissions in the economy and the hope was that this project could generate insight into what changes or shifts could be effected to reduce emissions. I became involved in the project because of my connection to Carynn and my shared values as regards the importance of sustainable societies and preservation of the natural environment. I also felt like I could learn a lot from being involved in the Data Analysis component of the project.


Getting Going

Our first task was to assemble all the those involved for a physical meeting. This happened at WGHS in January 2017 and the main focus was to determine the project goals. The meeting included people from the WWF, WGHS and external parties with specialised Transport knowledge.


First Meeting Agenda 

  • Motivation for and explanation of WWF’s project, and capacity offered
  • List all the transport-related issues at the school and across the four campuses
  • Identify which WWF can help with & prioritise the top three
  • Brainstorm ideas of what could be done about them
  • Plans – checklist of questions for each selected initiative:
  • Who has to be informed?
  • What do we hope to achieve by the end?
  • Who will need to actively participate? How do we best reach and motivate them?
  • What information has to be gathered? How do we determine a baseline?
  • Can any aspects be turned into a project for the learners?
  • How will we monitor progress and outcomes?
  • What are the next steps?


First Meeting Summary Notes (Thanks Dan!)

Pain Points

  • Parking , Congestion (7am-8am and 3-330pm) – start and end of school day,
  • 1 kid in every car
  • Reliability of trains not good
  • Cycling – road safety, crime. To be addressed
  • Kids don’t want to stay at school and wait

Other points made

  • Taxis are used (Wynberg taxi rank)
  • Trains are used
  •  Need for flexibility – multi stop trips.
  •  Walk (some)
  •  Contract with Golden Arrow for bus. School specific – busses not full. Why can’t bus leave later?
  •  There are some busses
  • Do survey on how people travel to school (home location, times come to and leave school)
  • Know the distance learners travel to/from school – Required to calculate emissions.
  • Waves of transport
  • Uber Pool ?
  • Lift clubs can have a great impact
  • School Travel Plan can have a positive impact and form as basis of project
  • Learners should be actively involved in promoting selected interventions among other learners
  • Fun competitions could help increase use of selected interventions
  • An Active Travel month could help encourage learners to try different modes

Interventions/actions to address pain points

  • Survey of modes (distance traveled,  home location, times they leave for school and home)
  • Monitor car occupancy
  • Uber Pool and other potential route planner solutions like WIMT and GoMetro
  • Bus routes + timetables (taxis, trains, GABS, BRT)
  • Cycling and Walking
  • Lift clubs
  • School facilities – hang out
  • Waves of transport
  • Traffic flow
  • Green driving’ training for parents

Problems to overcome

    • Understand demand (homes, times, modes, etc.)
    • Understand what services are available
    • Demand management – spatial
    • Traffic planning
    • Forcing people to not park (shrinking car enablers)
    • Less Private Car use
    • Carpooling (committed to all cars in area and not just 1 car)
    • Increased Public Transport and NMT Use
    • On demand public transport (to the home) – dial a ride sort of service (taxi)
    • Spines and Feeders
First and Last mile
    • Behavioral Change Can be product of marketing different transport options
    • Facilitate ways on behavioral change
    • Commute Log


Next steps

  • WWF to share potential survey questions
  • Launch concept with principal and teachers and SGB
  • Enviro club assembly launch
  • Survey learners to find baseline and decide on which interventions to focus on



After the meeting I was struck by the strong sense of purpose everyone involved seemed to share. I also liked the fact that there was a diversity of views at the table and all seemed to permeate into the discussion. Having the WWF co-ordinate as project leader together with motivated teachers on the ground co-ordinating and gathering information seemed like a good fit for making something happen. The main focus of the first term would be, designing a survey to gather baseline data and then going about collecting that data. From an initial list of questions drawn up by Dan, I set about creating an online survey form for this purpose. I then added what I thought were pertinent questions and circulated the form for feedback. After several rounds of feedback and some helpful advice from a Transport Modeller courtesy of Gerard’s contacts, we had a form we could use. I then set about circulating the form as well as encouraging & persuading learners to fill it in.


The Second Term after a long long break …



With the crazy end to term one we didn’t get a chance to talk too much about how learners could use the holidays for their projects. Also, when we came back to school , the first week was a shortened week and the second week I was away with the GR9’s on a camping excursion. This meant about 4 – 5 weeks had passed, since our last class meeting on 20% Time. I realised it would be important to have a session reconnecting to the project and affirming the reasons for why we were undertaking such an adventure.

Getting back on Track – Session 8 



In order to guide the session, I made the slideshow embedded above. The main idea was to emphasise that the project was a journey and  just undertaking the process was a worthwhile exercise . It was also understandable if you were feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of freedom and choice available. I pointed the learners back to their own curiosity as a compass. I outlined strategies and ways of thinking that I thought would be helpful. We then looked at short video clips of successful 20% Time Projects and proceeded to discuss and critique what we had seen. By the end of the session it felt like we had accomplished our objective of reconnecting to 20 % Time.


Reflection – Session 9 (12 May)



The focus of this session was to reflect on the progress we had made so  far and to emphasise the importance of the weekly blog task. The learners were given a variety of tasks they could do that would be reflective in nature, the image of the whiteboard gives some examples. Quite a few learners carried on working on their projects with one group managing to build an impromtu video stand out of a cardboard box and scissors,  then proceeded to film the first bit of a stop animation.


Mentor Focus & Timelines – Session 10 (19th May)

I started this session with a focus on the part of the project that deals with finding a mentor. We discussed some important considerations to keep in mind when trying to establish these types of relationships. The importance of being respectful and using the appropriate tone and formality.  The concept of approaching people from different generations and how one’s approach might change was also briefly discussed. I asked the learners to post a more detailed timeline of their project in this weeks blog post. I felt it was important to shift our focus to how we would take advantage of the last two weeks of term, after exams. This time period and the 3rd Term is when the actual “doing” in the project would get done. If we failed to plan for that time efficiently now, it would signifigantly limit what was possible.

The main part of the lesson was devoted to watching the video below, where a young student described the value of mentor relationships and the  process of how one goes about trying to create one. This video really is amazing for me because of the sense of ownership (agency) the student has for his learning. My mind wonders what a classroom would look like if I could empower my students to believe in themselves in the same way. The irony is, I can already see their potential is not particularly different. It’s just a matter of them seeing it too!


Creating Custom Content for your Maths class


I have been experimenting with making my own videos and creating a “flipped” classroom environment for a couple of years now. However it hasn’t been a smooth journey, rather lots of little experiments with different tools and approaches.

I recently made a series of videos for my grade 11 Maths class and got really positive feedback,  so I thought I would share my workflow for any other teachers out there conducting these type of experiments.

The tools I used were my Macbook Pro 13 inch mid 2012 , my Galaxy Note 10.1 inch Tablet (N8000) with the very useful S-Pen and then the App – Explain Everything. I also knitted together everything  using iMovie. Continue Reading

Defining Do’s & Dont’s in your classroom



At the beginning of this year I tried out a new way of discussing and defining my classroom Rules with my learners. It was by no means perfect, but it felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the top down heavy authoritative processes I had used before. The purpose of this post is just to define the basics of what I did and to open the concept up to other teachers so it can be further refined through collaborative discussion. Below is a brief description of how the process works. Continue Reading

Resources for Teaching Functions – Introduction



With the amount of Mathematics content online now a days,  I often find the biggest challenge is sorting through what to share with my students in class. Often resources appear usable at first, but then as you dig down deeper there are issues with alignment to the curriculum, notational differences or just confusing accents. However every now and again, you find a stand alone unit of work that has been handled particularly well and is ideally suited to being used in your class. In this case I try to do a blog post about it, so I don’t forget to use it in Future!  The content below is taken from the Khan Academy program on Algebra 1 and is a fantastic introduction to the concept of a Function in Mathematics. This is a foundational concept but can be tricky to explain. This unit allows students to proceed at their own pace and build up a solid understanding of the concept.

Link to the Unit on Functions from Khan Academy

Using this unit in your class

I also added some additional resources at the end that I sourced from the Web to test my students understanding, since I largely run this unit as a self study module


Concept of a Function – History



Getting 20% Time up and running in 2017




Based on my belief that all students should have some exposure to modern learning methods such as PBL and Inquiry Based Learning. I have been trying to get a 20% Time Project Based Learning initiative off the ground in 2017 with my GR10 Maths class. One of the characteristics of these modern learning methods is increased freedom in the learning process. In this particular case,  students get a full 20% of their class time to explore new approaches to learning with only scaffolding and feedback provided by the teacher and outside experts.

Students can initially find this freedom a little overwhelming, having been trained for so long to follow direct instructions when engaging in learning. What I will do for the rest of this post is summarise what we have managed to do so far this year and provide links to the various resources that have been created to guide the learning. My hope is by doing this, it will assist everyone involved in the project to reflect on the journey so far and plan for the rest of the year.

The beginning …

We started out by choosing a day of the week we could reserve for doing the project. We settled on Friday as it seemed the easiest way to do it, then Mon – Thur could be set aside for syllabus related work. We took the first two sessions to brainstorm topics  and discuss  the model we were going to use. We were  guided in our efforts by two resources.  The 20Time Project by Kevin Brookhouser and the Teachers Guide to Project Based Learning – Work that Matters by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. We also looked at examples of other inspiring 20% Time Projects on YouTube to better understand what we were trying to do. We then moved onto filling in documentation that outlined all the successful elements a good 20% project needed to have. It was at this stage that we first started to realize our uncomfortableness with this new way of doing things.

How does the 20% Project Work?

Proposal Template


Core Concepts and Outlines


Formal Proposal

Getting comfortable in a different type of learning space …

By the 3rd week after the initial novelty of the task had worn off, there was definitely a bit of a feeling of, “okay so how do we actually do this”. I decided to attempt something called the “Bad Idea Factory” which I had read about in the resources mentioned above. The intention was two fold. I wanted us to feel more relaxed about doing something as creative as 20% Time in a room that was associated with a very specific set of behaviors – most of them quite rigid. The other was for the learners to lessen their inner critics by engaging in a deliberately outlandish exercise which would hopefully fire up the part of their brain that was more improvisational and free. I was surprised how quickly we relaxed into the exercise and achieved our objectives of creating a different type of atmosphere in the classroom.


Bad Idea Factory – Learning to unleash your Creativity


Justifying our Adventure & Blogging …

So after our interesting experience with the Bad Idea Factory – the paper plane launching being the highlight! My attention shifted to providing a justification to the learners for what were doing and how it would serve our purpose longer term educationally. I hadn’t read the CAPS documents in quite a while but I knew that the introduction had statements of broader educational goals that we could interpret in relation to our project. I made screenshots of  the relevant sections and then asked the students to read these pieces, we then discussed their applicability to what we were doing with the 20% Time Project. We had some great discussions and the overall agreement seemed to indicate that what we were doing in this project, was very much in line with what was written in the documents. However there was a strong feeling that the more aspirational parts of the CAPS documents such as those listed below , were very rarely put into practice on the ground and so a touch hypocritical.



We also started to pay more attention to the blog part of the project. The first issue was just getting everyone actually setup with a Blog. Each week the learners would then write a post so that I could keep track of what they were doing. It would also allow me to give feedback as well as aiding them in the reflective process as they pursued their project goals. The first Blog post was on the CAPS documents and their applicability to this project.

Caps Documents and its application to PBL

Blog URL Collection: Google Form


The Messy Journey


Discussing the CAPS document


Getting up and running …

For weeks 5 and 6 the focus switched to actually getting things up and running. I was aware that we needed time to get ourselves used to this type of learning model, but I wanted us to shift our focus to actually creating things, even if  it turned out that the initial ideas were impractical and not well suited to this type of project. Some learners felt comfortable with topics they had chosen, whilst others were still struggling with the freedom of being able to choose. I spent quite a bit of time having reflective conversations and referring back to the projects guidelines to help them finding a greater sense of direction. I also imposed a deadline for a project proposal that would detail all the important steps indicated in the planning documents. These would be things like project topic, audience,mentor,  tools needed etc. We decided that due to the limited time available we would use the format of a 2 min edited video for the project proposal.


1st Differentiated Session 


2nd Differentiated Session


Clarifying Expectations  


Presenting Proposals …

As tends to be the case at any school, the  last week,  in which the the proposals took place was quite a chaotic one. Times were being moved around and random meetings  squeezed in . Fortunately we were able to find some time for the class to present. What stands out for me looking back, was how nice it was to get a sense of what everyone had been working on. The previous two weeks were almost entirely self directed and I realised while watching the presentations  I wasn’t completely up to date with all the projects. I enjoyed  catching up with what everyone had been thinking about. I also thought that the informal feedback given by the class was useful for the various presenters. After that,  we adjourned for the term and we would only meet up again in about 3 weeks.   My hopes were that the learners would spend some time in the holidays working on their projects. However due to the rushed nature of the last day, we didn’t really have any time to discuss it. I did manage though to get a letter together for their parents, so that the holidays could be used to discuss parts of the project that would possibly benefit from parental involvement.

Video Proposal Collection: Google Form

Explanation Letter for Parents PDF / Google Doc Format


*  A lot of the documents have been adapted from the Book:  The 20Time Project by Kevin Brookhouser