• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Lesson 15. Building a Web Survey

Lesson 15. Building a Web Survey

One of the most common—and useful—Web applications is the survey. With it, you can collect data from your users—data that can include feedback, opinions, suggestions, or test scores. Collecting data is one of the primary ways that any organization, whether commercial or educational, can determine how well it is serving the needs of its customer base or, in the case of educators, their students or learners.

Surveys are especially useful to educators and trainers, for whom the role of assessment is critical on many levels. Schools and universities might ask questions to learn the following:

  • How well did a given student learn during the unit?

  • How well did students in one class perform compared to students in a different class that used a new instructional strategy?

When users click Submit Survey at the bottom of the second page of the quiz, they are sending more than they may realize.

  • How well did a newly implemented textbook series work, compared to the previous one?

  • How did students feel about a given component?

Corporate trainers might collect data to learn about the following:

  • How much did learners enjoy the flexibility and availability of online training, as compared to the more personal classroom training?

  • Did they learn the same things?

  • Did they learn what was intended?

  • What do users wish had been offered, but wasn't?

Even as students and learners require assessment to document their learning, most teachers and trainers use assessment tools to record the results of their teaching. Funding and grants are often tied to one's ability to demonstrate need (up front) and results (afterwards). Educators and administrators seeking to improve their schools, academic departments, or training programs first identify areas needing attention through assessment, and the new directions they take are often in direct response to the data collected.

The practice of assessment is complicated and important, and computers can do only so much to facilitate it. Obviously, a computer cannot make intelligent judgments about what a given set of results mean, and it is beyond the scope of this book to explore the complexities of assessment. However, as nearly every trainer or educator knows, surveys are a part of our lives. And the most common form—paper-based surveys—are particularly inefficient, often requiring hundreds of hours of monotonous, error-prone clerical work. Alternatively, some paper-based surveys use bubble forms (the ones that require No. 2 pencils). These automate the clerical task of transferring the data from paper to machine, but they are expensive, require special equipment, and are prone to confuse the user since answer bubbles are labeled arbitrarily with numbers and letters, rather than with the actual questions and answers, which are usually on another page.

Web-based surveys are a significant improvement over the older paper methods. They generally require very little by way of technology, beyond the server to host them, and they are accessible to anyone with a computer and Internet access. Because data is sent automatically to the database, the time-consuming task of transferring the data is eliminated, and—better yet—the data is available much more quickly. It is also easy to determine how many respondents have taken the survey as well as identify which intended participants haven't.

In this lesson, you will build a multiple-page survey that solicits feedback from users about the quality of a class as an online experience. Online training is comparatively new, and while best practices are emerging, we are all still learning how to do it well. One of the best ways to find out what works and what doesn't is to ask the learners themselves, and compare that data with test scores (or some other measure of their learning). The survey you will build in this lesson asks a series of questions that address some of these issues.

The survey also reflects another common fact of life for educators using surveys: Our surveys are comparatively long. While many surveys on commercial Web sites ask a handful of questions, education tests and surveys often include dozens or even hundreds of questions. And such questions seldom fit well on a single page. Unfortunately, because the Web is a stateless protocol, it is difficult to manage information across multiple pages. In this lesson you will use different strategies for doing so, including session variables and hidden form fields. When the user finishes the survey, the data uploaded will come from three different pages, though this functionality is invisible to the user.


In this lesson, you will:

  • Build a multiple-page survey using many different survey elements

  • Use ColdFusion's built-in server-side form validation

  • Use session variables and hidden fields to hold data from multiple pages together

  • Send all of the collected information to a database


This lesson takes approximately 1½ hours to complete.


Starting Files:




Completed Files:






Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint