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Use of audio-enhanced personal digital assistants for school-based data collection.

The Journal of Adolescent Health

Adolescent, Adolescent Behavior, Child, Computers, Handheld, utilization, Data Collection, methods, Female, Health Behavior, Humans, Male, Psychometrics, Schools

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      To review the different data collection options available to school-based researchers and to present the preliminary findings on the use of audio-enhanced personal digital assistants (APDA) for use in school-based data collection. A newly developed APDA system was used to collect baseline data from a sample of 645 seventh grade students enrolled in a school-based intervention study. Evaluative measures included student response, time to completion, and data quality (e.g., missingness, internal consistency of responses). Differences in data administration and data quality were examined among three groups of students: students newer to the United States speaking English as a second language; special education students; and students not newer to the United States receiving regular education. The APDA system was well received by students and was shown to offer improvements in data administration (increased portability, time to completion) and reduced missing data. Although time to completion and proportion of missing data were similar across the three groups of students, psychometric properties of the data varied considerably. The APDA system offers a promising new method for collecting data in the middle school environment. Students with cognitive deficits and language barriers were able to complete the survey in a similar amount of time without additional help; however, differences in data quality suggest that limitations in comprehension of the questions remained even though the questions were read to the respondents. More research on the use of APDA is necessary to fully understand the effect of data collection mode with special populations.

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