Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Evaluations and Java

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Evaluations. You know them. We all have to deal with them at times.  Whether it's an evaluation of the college course you just finished and you're saying all the frustrated things you've wanted to scream at your professor all semester, or it's a chance for you to endlessly praise your counselor at the end of a glorious week of camp.  Personally, I always hate filling out evaluations. I can never think of what to say or how to say it. Today I got the chance to be on the other side of the evaluation.

I was handed a 8 inch high pile of filled out evaluations when I got to work this morning, with the assignment of typing up all the answers to the questions.  I'll admit, it was kind of cool to see the overall themes of the mini-essays.  Without knowing anything about the event ahead of time, after reading through the evaluations I could tell you exactly what worked and didn't work, what they should add more of and what should be left behind.  Another thing I learned? People have terrible handwriting.

I was also reminded today of how much a little programming knowledge can come in handy.  The top half of these evaluations was a group of five statements with check boxes ranging from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree.  Maybe I'm not as computer literate as I thought I was, but I could not for the life of me figure out an easy way to keep a tally in Excel.  Or Word.  Or even on paper, when you have so much data.  It's just too slow.  My solution?  See for yourself:

The basic idea is that you click a button and the counter for that button increases. I'm sure the reset button is self-explanatory.  Actually, this is usually one of the first programs that beginners learn to write (although they usually only include one button).  So believe it or not, the 15 minutes it took to write this in Java saved me about 5 minutes on each set of evaluations, paying for itself, time-wise, in about 3 sets (There were at least 25 sets).

Seeing as my internship will be over in less than two weeks, I emailed this program over to the lady who had given me this assignment so she'd be able to use it after I left.  I would never have guessed someone could get so excited about pressing a button to make numbers change.

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