June 1994 // Volume 32 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT4
Computerizing Contest Information
A computer program has been developed at Purdue University that will greatly reduce the time required to conduct a 4-H contest. The computer program, written in Clipper and Dbase 3.3 Plus, handles registration details including supplying confirmation notices and a printed receipt to all coaches; prints contestant labels; assigns and calculates class cuts when necessary; tabulates scores by age divisions (clover, junior, senior, etc.), organizations (4-H, FFA, etc.), and contest (dairy, crops, horticulture, etc.); and ranks individuals and teams by individual classes and overall contest. The program sets and prints results in a variety of options to fit user needs.
4-H professionals frequently spend a considerable amount of time planning and conducting agricultural judging events. The computerized contest organizer and tabulation system developed at Purdue University helps eliminate problems encountered with judging events.
Registering contestants, preparing confirmation letters, receipts and mailing labels, as well as tabulating scores can be extremely time-consuming. Purdue's computerized contest organizer and tabulation program saves time by allowing contestants' names and addresses, once entered, to be used to prepare registration forms and contest scorecards. Further, the computer program uses the information to prepare a final output with names and scores, eliminating the need to type a result sheet.
The program also reduces repetitious activities. Since it stores and retrieves data, confirmation letters may be generated from registration information without retyping names and addresses. Likewise, registration information (contestant names) is used to tabulate scores, eliminating the need to hand prepare a master scorecard.
Computerized tabulation is less likely to result in scoring errors. When processing data by hand, errors may occur when transposing data from scorecards to a master score sheet and when adding scores. By using Purdue's computerized contest organizer and tabulation program, errors are less likely to occur. Further, the system won't tabulate final scores if data are missing, thereby giving verification that the data set is complete.
Results are available more quickly when using a computerized versus manual tabulation program. The computer adds scores, ranks individuals and teams, breaks ties, and divides contestants by division and age faster than a group of individuals. The program was developed to make the job of planning and conducting a judging event easier, given the normal problems encountered when manually performing judging tasks.
Several factors were considered in devising this program. First, the programming language had to be able to: handle a large number of data cases; run on computers found commonly in county Extension offices and vocational agriculture departments; run on an MS-DOS system; run on a laptop computer; and, above all, be user-friendly. Given these factors Dbase 3.3 Plus was selected as the database program because of its widespread use and power to handle large numbers of data factors. Clipper was selected as the programming language. To ensure that the computerized contest organizer and tabulation program was ready for use, the program was extensively tested in county, area, and state contests throughout Indiana during 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993.
The program is divided into four major sections. The description section permits the user to enter specific information about the contest such as name, level (county, area, state), location of contest, registration deadlines, team size, whether scores are to be ranked low to high or vise-versa, and method of scoring (raw data, class placing, keep/cull). The registration information section includes: team number, fee paid, contestant data (name, address, birth date), competition level (junior, senior or open division), and organization (4-H, FFA, collegiate or other). Options under this section permit the printing of detailed rosters and labels. The section on scoring permits the user to enter the "official answers" as well as the contestants' scores for each event. The print results section offers options to print by contestant, team, or summary of all scores. Within each category, scores may be tabulated and printed by age, division, organization, or any combination of all three.
Planning and conducting agricultural judging contests can be extremely time-consuming. The computerized contest organizer and tabulation program developed at Purdue University can play a vital role in easing time requirements.
This program my be ordered from the Purdue University Department of 4-H and Youth for $175.00. Contact Dr. Norman Long, 1161 AGAD Building, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (317)494-8435.