your opinion counts (OC)

Secondary school students develop an online panel for young people

The project “StudentOnlinePanel” aimed to develop and test the first Austrian online panel targeted primarily towards pupils – designed by students from two upper secondary schools for business (BHAK Steyr and BHAK Linz-Auhof) in collaboration with university researchers. This novel research infrastructure was used for social science studies as well as school projects relating to experiences, attitudes and values of students.

What is an online panel?

Online panels are used for social science surveys. They consist of a pool of people who agree to participate in internet-based studies on a regular basis. Once the person has registered on the panel website, he or she will be invited by researchers to participate in online research studies. Depending on the specific study design specific sub samples can be selected from the pool of participants. Panel administration and survey participation are realized entirely online via an internet-based web application. Compared to traditional paper-and-pencil surveys, online panel studies are quick, cost-efficient and easy to administrate.

Sharing experience through collaboration

Collaborations between students, teachers, and researchers are to assure an appealing visual design of the panel website for the target audience. Furthermore, important educational objectives such as the competence to understand, design, and interpret social science studies (which become more and more important in public and economic debates) will be achieved by participating in this project. The combination of the researchers’ academic experiences with the students’ “street knowledge” about current issues to be researched, promises an innovative and interesting project.

First experiences

The Project started with a kick-off workshop in October 2008 at which all involved students, teachers and researchers participated. Students of BHAK Steyr presented various proposals for visual website designs and logos. They are responsible for the student-oriented design of the online panel, which they will develop in a course on “Software development and network engineering, multimedia and web-design” as a project for their school leaving examination. Likewise, the students of BHAK Linz-Auhof can make use of their knowledge they gained in a course on “Marketing and international business operations”. They developed marketing concepts for the panel to recruit students from all over Austria as panel members during the next few months.

Next Steps

Once a student-oriented design of the “StudentOnlinePanel” has been agreed upon and enough students were willing to participate as online panel members have been recruited, the project was proceed to next level. Then, the practicability of the “StudentOnlinePanel” for research with students and by students was evaluated through a series of studies on different topics relevant to today´s youth, such as gender aspects in students’ lives, integration of minority groups or experiences with new forms of learning in school. The researchers from the University of Linz supported students and teachers when they design the studies as well as during data collection and data analysis and they did technical development work. In the long term, the project aimed to test the feasibility of an online panel as an infrastructure for “youth research” – in two meanings: as research about youth and by youth.

This project has been completed.