The collection in 6th grade
Before the final questionnaires for students, parents and teachers were established, views were obtained from the UGU project's reference group consisting of representatives of the National Agency for Education, Swedish Council for Higher Education, Statistics Sweden and some research institutions. The forms were also reviewed by representatives of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities, the Student Organization in Sweden, the Association of School Leaders, the National Association of Home and School, the National Association of Teachers and the Swedish Teachers' Association.
The implementation of a survey of this type presupposes both appropriate permits and the active participation of many people and organizations. Before the survey started, the teachers’ and school leaders' trade unions, the Swedish Home and School Association, the Student Organization in Sweden and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities were all informed, who all gave their support to the survey. Furthermore, an application was sent to the school boards in the municipalities concerned for permission to carry out the data collection from the students during lesson time. All municipalities except one were positive.
Due to the fact that many classes were divided and that individual pupils changed class or moved since 3rd grade, when Statistics Sweden collected school administrative data for the first time, the pupils were spread over significantly more classes in 1995 than in 1992. At first, the number of classes was 579. Two years later the number had increased to 1152. Some of the students had also moved to other municipalities than the 35 that had been involved from the start. One problem was that the last available information about the students' class affiliation - which was obtained from Statistics Sweden's register - was from the end of the academic year 1993/94, when the students were usually in 5th grade. It was the then current class designation that later formed the basis for the distribution of student and teacher forms. However, we expected that with the help of the class affiliation from 5th grade, it would be relatively easy to identify the correct class in 6th grade, which also turned out to be the case.
For practical and economic reasons the quantity of survey material in question required data processing. Furthermore, since it is a longitudinal survey, the data stored on the electronic media must be identifiable. The survey material thus constitutes a personal register within the meaning of the Data Act. Before the investigation was started, the requisite permission was therefore obtained from the Data Inspectorate.
Materials for the schools
In January, a letter was sent from Statistics Sweden with prior information to the principals in the areas where there were students who were included in the survey. This letter was accompanied by a brochure about the project and a letter from the National Agency for Education, stating how significant the survey was considered to be. A list of the participating students, an information sheet for the teachers who would be involved and a special letter to the local Home and School associations were also attached. All letters can be found in Appendix 5.
The survey material was sent out from Statistics Sweden in week 12. The number of forms (Forms 1 and 2) with the associated answer envelope, which corresponded to the number of participating students, was sent to each class. The forms were labeled with the participating students' names, dates of birth and class numbers. Each class set was provided with a cover letter to the class teacher with instructions for the implementation of the data collection. Furthermore, the teacher received a list of the participating students, where notes were to be made about any absence, relocation, etc. The material was distributed via the principal. The letters sent to principals and teachers can be found in Appendix 6.
The forms were to be completed during the period March 27 to April 28. The time required was calculated at three work shifts. After filling in the forms, the students had to put these in the answer envelopes and seal them again. In order for the teacher to check that all forms were included, students were asked to write their names on the envelopes. The student forms were sent via the principal to the University of Gothenburg.
Each class teacher also received the special questionnaire he or she would answer. After answering, these were sent in reply envelopes directly to the University of Gothenburg.
The data collection in the schools seems to have been carried out without any major problems. Very few principals and teachers got in touch. The inquiries that came most often concerned how to proceed with students who have moved from the class. In these cases, we asked that the material be forwarded to the student's current school.
At the end of April, a letter of thanks was sent to all the principals concerned. The schools that did not submit material from all participating classes in mid-May received a reminder letter at this time. The mentioned letters can be found in Appendix 7. At the end of this month, forms from some schools were still missing, so these were contacted by telephone.
As the forms came in from the schools, the classes were marked off on a special list. In this so-called archive list there is, in addition to the student's name, class designation and population registration number, also a special code number, which is used in the data processing. For reasons of confidentiality, we do not use the population registration numbers as a source of identification in this process.
Material for the guardians
At the end of February, Statistics Sweden sent out the forms to the guardians. They were sent directly to the residential addresses. Each form was accompanied by a stamped reply envelope and a cover letter (Appendix 8). The letter provided information on the structure and purpose of the survey. Furthermore, we justified why, in a study of this type, it was important to get views from the students' guardians as well. Finally, we informed that all information provided was confidential and that the Data Inspectorate had given its permission for the investigation. The questionnaire to the parents is sent out approximately one month before the collection of the student surveys. In this way, the requirements for information set by the Data Protection Act were met.
A few dozen parents contacted Statistics Sweden or the University of Gothenburg. Most wanted more information about the survey. A few expressed their wishes that their children should not participate, which were of course taken into account.
One week after the mailing, a letter of thanks and reminder was sent and a few weeks later another reminder.
More about the survey can be read in a message from Statistics Sweden under the heading reports.
The Cognitive tests are intelligence tests containing tasks of a verbal, inductive and spatial nature. These have been given at each collection in 6th grade and began with the evaluation in 1961. The three subtests and how they were developed are described in Svensson, A. (1964) (pdf downloadable from GUPEA, in Swedish).
- Antonyms: To choose the opposite of a particular keyword among four options
- Sheet metal folding: To work out which of the four figures you get, if you fold a pictured “sheet metal piece”
- Number series: To continue a number series, where six numbers are given, with two more numbers
More about the cognitive tests can be read in:
Relative achievement: school performance in relation to intelligence, sex and home environment (pdf downloadable from GUPEA)
As in the spring of 1990, a mathematics test was given. However, this has been heavily reworked. The reason for this is that the tasks in the previously used sample proved to be somewhat too simple, which resulted in a relatively small distribution.
The new tasks were constructed by Bengt-Olof Ljung at the Department of Education, University of Teacher Education in Stockholm. They were tested in the spring of 1994 at schools in Trollhättan and Stenungsund. After the tests, some adjustments were made and the new sample consisted of 20 tasks, of which only four were taken from the previous sample.
Questionnaire for students
- Five questions (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) concern the students' general perception of their ability to acquire knowledge and skills in different areas of knowledge and their interest in these areas. The questions also concern the students' perception of their ability to cope with certain specific tasks in Swedish, English and mathematics.
- One question (6) is about how often certain working methods occur in the class
- Two questions (7 and 11 in the second part of the form) are about how students feel in different school situations and an open question "Why do all children in Sweden go to school?"
- Six questions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the second part of the form) are about hobbies
- One question (10 in the second part of the form) concerns future career plans
- Three questions (7, 8 and 9 in the second part of the form) concern attitudes to homework and how often the student receives help with schoolwork
The exact wording of the questions can be found in the questionnaire for the students (pdf in Swedish).
Questionnaire to the guardians
The form given in 1995 included 16 questions.
- Three questions (1, 2 and 3) concern the student's growing up conditions
- Three questions (4, 5 and 6) concern the parents' education and profession
- Two questions (7 and 8) are about the parents' attitude to quarterly conversations and parent meetings
- Four questions (9, 10, 12 and 13) are about the parents' perceptions of the requirements set by the school, the quality of the school and the information they receive from the school.
- One question (11) is about the students' information to the parents about the school
- One question (14) concerns whether the parents intend to choose a school other than the one closest to home.
- Two open-ended questions (15 and 16) give parents the opportunity to describe what has been most positive and negative during 4th to 6th grade
The exact wording of the questions can be found in the questionnaire for the parents (pdf 1 MB in Swedish).
Questionnaire for teachers
With previous cohorts, no questions have been asked of the teachers, but in order to get as complete a picture as possible of the student's school situation, we considered it valuable to also receive information from the teachers. Therefore, a teacher questionnaire was prepared, the final version of which consisted of 16 questions.
- Six questions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) concern certain facts about the teacher
- Two questions (7 and 8) concern the size and composition of the class
- Three questions (9, 10 and 11) are about the teacher's assessments of the class' level of knowledge and the relationship between the students
- One question (12) is about the school's resources
- One question (13) concerns working methods for students' knowledge development
- One question (14) concerns the parents' participation in school work
- Two questions (15 and 16) concern the existence of evaluations
The exact wording of the questions can be found in the questionnaire for teachers (pdf 1 MB in Swedish).