VCE IT Lecture Notes by Mark Kelly

IT Applications

VCAA Exam Post Mortem

2008

VCE IT Exam Post Mortem

Post Mortem Notes

This is not a VCAA publication!
I do not speak for the VCAA, the IT examiners, or exam markers.
I was not involved in the setting or marking of this examination.
Extracts from exams are all Copyright © VCAA, and are used with permission. Thanks, VCAA!
Use these post mortems at your own risk.
I reserve the right to change my mind completely, at short notice, about anything I've said here.
Suggestions, discussions and corrections are welcome.
If any third-party copyrighted material has inadvertently been used, please let me know

Questions are in black.
My suggested answers are in blue.
My editorial ramblings about the exam are in blue italics.
Examiners' report comments are in red italics.
Purple shows the explanation of an answer.


Other VCE IT Post Mortems to enjoy

ITA/Informatics - 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017


SD - 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017

 

SECTION A - Multiple-choice questions

Go to section B

* in multiple choice marks my answers

Across the state: average multiple choice question accuracy =
Lowest question success was (Q)
Highest question success was (Q)

Instructions for Section A

Answer all questions in pencil on the answer sheet provided for multiple-choice questions. Choose the response that is correct or that best answers the question.
A correct answer scores 1, an incorrect answer scores 0.
Marks will not be deducted for incorrect answers.
No marks will be given if more than one answer is completed for any question.

And let's hope this year's exam won't be a dog's breakfast...

Schmacko Award!

Question 1

The main reason for evaluating a new website is to
A. ensure all the bugs have been found and corrected.
B. check its goals and objectives have been achieved.
C. ensure all the online user documentation is up to date.
D. test the query functions to ensure they are working correctly.

Answer is: B

If you thought "A", that is testing, not evaluation.

75% of the state got this question right.

This question assessed students’ knowledge of the evaluation step of a problem solving methodology. It was pleasing to see a large majority of students recognised that the main reason for evaluating a website was to check that stated goals and objectives had been achieved

Question 2

In Australia, digitally altering the background and colours of an artist's work and then selling it as your own is illegal according to the
A. Copyright Act 1968.
B. Privacy Act 1988.
C. Information Privacy Act 2000.
D. Health Records Act 2001.

Answer is: A

Obviously.

92% of the state got this question right.

Most students recognised the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (option A) as the appropriate law covering the scenario described.

Question 3

Incremental backup
A. ensures all archived data is up to date.
B. provides redundant copies of new software.
C. reduces time by saving only data which has changed.
D. increases the time spent saving data.

Answer is: C

Obviously.

78% of the state got this question right.

A large majority of students correctly recognised that an incremental backup, which only backs up changes made since the last full backup, saves time.

Question 4

The owner of a large retail organisation wants to improve customer service over the next three years. This is an example of an organisational
A. goal at a tactical level of decision making.
B. goal at a strategic level of decision making.
C. objective at a tactical level of decision making.
D. objective at a strategic level of decision making.

Answer is: B

The owner would obviously be making strategic decisions, and the broad, vague nature of the target indicates it's a goal rather than a more specific objective.

53% of the state got this question right.

A small majority of students correctly identified ‘goal at a strategic level of decision making’ (option B) as the correct response.
The decision is strategic, that is, it is made by senior management and involves forward planning over a three year period.
It is a goal because it is long-term and it is general because it does not provide a target figure.
A large minority of students selected option D. This is an objective because it is a small achievable task with a given target figure. It is a task undertaken to achieve the goal. In this case for example, an objective could be a 5 per cent reduction in customer complaints about mislabelled products.

Question 5

Joe is in a hurry to save his mathematics homework and get to school. He removes a flash disk/memory stick before the screen prompt indicates it is safe to do so. When Joe opens the flash disk/memory stick at school he finds his mathematics homework file is missing.

This is due to
A. an accident.
B. a power failure.
C. a technical fault.
D. a procedural failure.

Answer is: D

The corrent procedure was not followed, which caused the error.

Option B is as dumb as a retarded custard pie.

88% of the state got this question right.

It was very pleasing to see that most students recognised that the procedural failure was Joe removing the flash disk before the screen prompt indicated it was safe to do so (option D).

Question 6

The Input-Process-Output (IPO) chart below is set up to represent part of a solution to an information problem.

Input

Process

Output

Price Quantity

Total = Price x Quantity

Display Total

The solution design should include a plan to
A. validate price and quantity and test total.
B. validate price and total and test quantity.
C. test price and quantity and validate total.
D. test price and total and validate quantity.

Answer is: A

You validate input data and test output information.

55% of the state got this question right.

This question assessed students’ understanding of validation and testing when preparing a design for an information product.

Question 7

Below is a section of a database used to effectively manage data at the Health First Clinic.

Health First Clinic

Objects

Name

Description

Form

Patients

Add, edit and print patient information

Form

Employees

Add and edit staff information


Identify the patients form that best meets the description.

Answer is: B

<D> is an employees' form so rule that dumb option out. <C> leaves out the patient ID, which is important. Choosing between <A> and <B>... <B> has a print button and <A> does not, so it's a little more functional.

But deary me - they did use Access-specific terminology ("form") which Filemaker users would not be familiar with. Bad examiners. Bad!

90% of the state got this question right.

Most students were able to read the description of the patients form and identify option B as the best fit.

Use the following information to answer Questions 8-10. The design for a spreadsheet to record cash sales during February 2008 is shown below.

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

February 2008 Cash

 

 

3

 

$

 

 

4

Days

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

 

Total $

5

Monday

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

Wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

Thursday

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

Saturday

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

Difference

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question 8

The formula to calculate the Total in cell G13 is
A. =SUM(G5:G13)
B. =SUM(G5:G11)
C. =SUM(E5:E11)
D. =SUM(B13:G13)

Answer is: B.

My mother's geranium - which is considered to be stupid even by fellow geraniums - could have worked that one out.

88% of the state got this question right.

Most students chose the correct formula to calculate the total shown in the design for a spreadsheet. It was pleasing to see that most students understood the importance of avoiding circular references in spreadsheet formulas.

Question 9

The most effective formula for B15 to show the difference between cash sales on the best and worst days of Week 1 is
A. =MAX(B5:B11)
B. =COUNT(B5:Bll)
C. =AVERAGE(B5 :B 11)
D. =(MAX(B5:B11)-MIN(B5:B11))

Answer is: D

If nothing else, ruling out dumb options <A> to <C> would lead to the right answer.

83% of the state got this question right.

Again, it was pleasing to see that most students correctly chose the more complex formula to calculate the difference between cash sales on the worst and best days.
Most students clearly understood that COUNT and AVERAGE were not appropriate functions.

Question 10

To show changes over a 4-week period in the total cash taken each Friday the most effective chart type would be
A. pie.
B. area.
C. scatter.
D. column.

Answer is: D

Again, eliminating the unlikely answers helps a lot. It's not a pie (which shows how much the components contribute to a whole). I'm not familiar with area chart, since my experiences with mathematics at school were not happy ones. I doubt it's a scatter graph, which has dots all over it showing individual values. Column seems right.

71% of the state got this question right.

The majority of students correctly identified the column chart as the most effective chart to represent changes in cash taken on four consecutive Fridays.

Use the following information to answer Questions 11-13.
The design and test data for a customer form is shown below. The CustomerlD field is the primary key.

Customers

CustomerlD -SMA0623

Company Name - SMARTICONS

Title - Mr

Contact Name -Kim Jones

Address - 28 High Street

City -SYDNEY

Postcode - 2003

Phone - 0200245678

Fax - 0234567892

Last Order $ - 674.89


Question 11

The CustomerlD field
A. must have an entry and cannot be sorted.
B. is a unique identifier and cannot be sorted.
C. is a unique identifier and must have an entry.
D. is an autonumber data type and must have an entry.

Answer is: C

Key fields (a.k.a. primary keys) must be unique: we all know that. Without an entry they are useless. Sorting is irrelevant. Key fields are sometimes automatically generated with something like autonumber, but it ain't compulsory.

79% of the state got this question right.

This question asked students to identify two necessary features of a primary key. It was pleasing to see that the majority of students correctly chose option C.

Question 12

A drop list or combo box in this form would be an efficient validation technique for the field labelled
A. Fax
B. Title
C. Phone
D. CustomerlD

Answer is a very reluctant : B. After a lot of pondering and correspondence I've changed from D to B. I had been interpreting the purpose of the form differently to other people - the question is not clear on that score.

"Drop list"? That's a new one to me. Anyway, a dropdown list or combo box is only good for a limited list.

Drop-down lists should only be used when the items in it can be exhaustively listed - and titles are not. Yes, you can add Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, Professor etc but there will always be titles you have never heard of that will need adding. It will be an endless job.

I don't accept that a dropdown list is suitable as the sole means of entering a title. Sure, stack the list with common titles to save time for data entry, but there should be some other way of entering titles that are not in the list. (e.g. a simple "Other..." plus a textbox.)

Alas, I agree that B is the best of a bad bunch of options. But I'm not happy, Jan.

85% of the state got this question right.

It was pleasing to see that most students understood the concept of an efficient validation technique and could successfully apply it to the design of a database form. In choosing the title field, most students recognised that the combo box or drop list is best used in a field where there is a limited and known range of values from which users can select.

Question 13


A query to search for all customers based in Adelaide whose most recent order was less than $ 1000 would be
A. City = Adelaide and Last OrderS = 999
B. City = Adelaide and Last OrderS > 1000
C. City < > Melbourne and Last Order$ < 1000
D. City = Adelaide and Last Order$ < 1000

Answer is: D

"< >" means not equal to. ">" is greater than. "<" is less than.

This exam is far from challenging for a skilled student so far...

84% of the state got this question right.

Most students correctly identified option D, the query which directly represented the conditions ‘customers based in Adelaide and less than $1000’ as a better option than option C, which would include customers based in Adelaide but also those based in others cities such as Sydney, Brisbane or Perth.

Question 14


The efficiency of onscreen help provided for users of a spreadsheet package could best be evaluated by
A. counting the number of incomplete customer records.
B. observing the time it takes users to retrieve the help they need.
C. asking users in an online survey if they are happy with the onscreen help.
D. checking the Help Desk log for the number of data errors in the onscreen help.

Answer is: B

Efficiency relates to saving time, money or labour. All of the other options were related to accuracy and ease of use, which are related to effectiveness.

56% of the state got this question right.

This question asked students to select the best means of evaluating the efficiency of online help provided for users.
Only option B, which suggested observing ‘the time it takes to retrieve help’, described a measure of efficiency.
Efficiency is measured in terms of time, cost or effort. The other three options described measures of effectiveness.
Effectiveness is measured in terms of completeness, attractiveness, accuracy, timeliness, accessibility, readability, clarity, relevance, communication of the message and usability.

Question 15

The IT Help Desk has been asked to create a macro that will centre the company name 'Sell Quickly Online With Us' in cells Al to A8 whenever the assigned keys are pressed.
When recording the macro the IT Help Desk should
A. not merge any cells and have no formatting.
B. merge cells Al to A8 and have no formatting.
C. not merge any cells but include all formatting.
D. merge cells Al to A8 and include all formatting.

Answer is: D

This is a strange one. Obviously it has to be B or D - merging cells creates the centred heading over the cells. But as for "including formatting"? What does that mean? That the macro formats the text (e.g. large font size, sans serif typeface)? Rather odd.

64% of the state got this question right.

A macro executes a set of pre-arranged steps when an assigned key or button is pressed.
The macro to centre and bold the five word company name in eight cells across the top row of a spreadsheet would need steps that include merging, centring and bolding.
The majority of students selected option D as the correct option for this question. This macro would also need an absolute cell reference to position the company name correctly.

Question 16


A school's chess club needs a network that will allow it to play games from any location on the school's single campus. The game files have to be secure and the results recorded centrally.
The most appropriate transmission media for the club would be
A. infrared.
B. coaxial cable.
C. wireless.
D. CAT5 - unshielded twisted pair.

Answer is: C.

CAT5? That's as outdated as Britney Spears' reputation. While one would normally automatically go for CAT cable, the key words (I discovered after some rethinking) were "from any location". This implies wireless rather than cabled.

58% of the state got this question right.

The majority of students selected wireless (option C) as the correct response. The chess players needed access from any location on the school’s single campus. Wireless access points provide this and security is available with encryption.
A large minority of students selected Cat5 – unshielded twisted pair (option D). This was not the best option as a cable transmission medium limits the locations from which players can access the network.

Question 17


A prototype website is a
A. full working solution that has been fully tested and debugged.
B. full working solution that has not been fully tested and debugged.
C. screen design for a solution that is sent to team members for their comments.
D. model of a solution that demonstrates functionality, interface and some links.

Answer is: D

Prototype = demonstration model. Yep.

78% of the state got this question right.

Most students correctly identified option D as the best description of a prototype website.

Question 18


Individual members of a virtual team aiming to solve a problem collaboratively would expect to
A. meet regularly in person to discuss issues.
B. have the right to delete shared files.
C. have access to shared files via a network.
D. have the right to personally choose any name for the files they create.

Answer is: C

Does anyone else think many of this exam's distractor options are as dumb as a doorknob?

91% of the state got this question right.

It was very pleasing to see that most students understood the basic principles associated with the use of a virtual private network to solve a problem collaboratively.

Question 19


James has created a simple query to help his little brother check the answers to multiplication exercises.
To test that the calculated field in this query works correctly, James should enter data in the fields
A. First Number, Second Number
B. First Number, Second Number, Answer
C. Exercise Number, First Number, Second Number
D. Exercise Number, First Number, Second Number, Answer

Answer is: A

I mean to say, my cat died two years ago, but even he could have answered that correctly.

63% of the state got this question right.

This question assessed students’ understanding of how the formulas created in a database query are tested.
The majority of students selected option A, which recommended test data for the input fields ‘First Number, Second Number’.
The AutoNumber field generates its own number and the multiplication process will generate an output number for the answer field.

Question 20

The critical path on the PERT chart shown above is
A. Start, D, E, End
B. Start, A, B, C, End
C. Start, D, B, C, End
D. Start, F, G, C, End

Answer is: D

An odd sort of PERT. Not quite 'Activity on Arrow'. Not quite 'Activity on Node'. Anyway, there are four paths in the chart:

Start > F G C > End (6+12+4+6 = 28)

Start > A B C > End (6+4+5+6=21)

Start > D B C > End (7+5+5+6=23)

Start > D E > End (7+3+8=18)

So the longest path is 28 time units.

47% of the state got this question right.

In this question students were asked to identify the critical path on a PERT chart.
A delay in completing a task on the critical path will result in a delay to the whole project. The correct option (option D) was the longest path.

 

To me, the state averages show that section A was far too easy. Only one question managed to outwit more than half of the students. The average success rate for the state for section A was 74% - rather too high, if you ask me.

SECTION B - Short answer questions

Go up to section A
Instructions for Section B

Answer all questions in the spaces provided.

Question 1 - 2 + 2 marks, 2 lines each.

Market research indicates that teenagers make up most of the audience for an online chat room about spy movies.

a. List two audience characteristics that need to be considered when developing this chat room.

Their: reading level; attention span; maturity; vocabulary; lack of credit cards. Others?

b. Explain how one of these characteristics should influence the content of the site's home page. Give an example to support your answer.

  • Reading level - where possible, use short words instead of big words.
  • Attention span- keep text short and exciting.
  • Maturity - avoid adult-oriented films, themes, discussion.
  • Vocabulary - avoid sophisticated words.
  • Lack of credit cards - don't try to sell products via credit card.

State average was 1.75 / 4 (43%)

Question 1a. Students were asked to identify two characteristics of an audience for a chatroom home page. The question stated that the audience was made up of teenagers and that the chat site was about spy movies. It was pleasing to see that many students identified a range of characteristics which included age, gender, level of education and literacy or language and culture.

Question 1b. Only a small number of students was able to explain how one of these characteristics should influence the content of the site’s home page and achieve full marks. Many successful students explained that younger teenagers need lots of colour and simple language or images to keep them coming back to the site.


Question 2 - 4 marks

The following 17 links are needed on the home page of a school website.

Art, Biology, Chemistry, Drama, English, Fees, Location Map, Mathematics, Medical Care, Parent Association, Parent Information, Pastoral Care, Student Welfare, Subjects, Visitor Information, Weekly Calendar, Newsletter.

Select four links as headings on the opening page and insert them in the boxes labelled W, X, Y, Z.

Select two other appropriate links to be placed under each heading.


Subjects Visitor Information Parent Information Student Welfare
Art Location Map Fees Medical Care
Biology Newsletter Parent Assoc Pastoral Care
Chemistry Weekly Calendar    
Drama      
English      
Mathematics      
       

It's not really an IT question. It's more about general categorisation skills. Only 2 items were required for each heading, but I've put all the items in place. One could argue that the calendar might be more aimed at parents, but I'd say it's not wholly meant for parents. Other stakeholders, such as students and teachers, would make use of it.

Also, as one of my students said, "What's pastoral care?" I imagine many students were equally confused by this requirement for non-IT vocabulary. I wonder what the ESL exam testers said about that expression.

State average was 2.7 / 4 (68%)

The majority of students chose Subjects, Student Welfare, Parent Information and Visitor Information as the most appropriate headings for boxes W, X, Y and Z – the main categories of the links on a school website’s home page. It was pleasing to see that most students selected appropriate links to be placed under the headings chosen.


Question 3

FreshFood is a company that delivers food to online customers. The screen shown below is used to order fruit.

a. 2 marks, 2 lines for the feature and 2 lines for the explanation.

a. Select one formatting feature of the table shown above and explain how it adds to the clarity of the information.

Formatting Feature How it adds to the clarity of the information
Even second row is shaded Makes it easier to read across a row and not accidentally enter a different row.
Stars to indicate quality The number of stars is more immediate and readable than a numeral. Analogue information is often quicker and easier to interpret than digital info.
Fancy heading Makes key info (the organisation's name) very obvious

State average was 1.15 / 2 (58%)

b. 4 marks. 1 line for each convention, 2 lines for each explanation.

b. Identify two conventions and explain how each adds to the usability of the information product.

Convention How it adds to the usability of the information product
Right-justified prices Make it clearer which numbers are larger than others.
2 decimal places Makes it easier to compare numbers
Bold heading at the top Makes it clear that the text is a heading and not data
Grid lines to define cells Separates rows and columns clearly, makes it sure what category a data item fits into
$ sign in heading rather than before each price Saves on repetition and complexity of the price column
Adjectives follow nouns (e.g. Apples green) Makes it easier to identify the most important first fact (the noun) and then the supporting information (green) and also helps when sorting because related items stay together.
Fruits are sorted alphabetically Makes it far easier to find the desired item in the list

The challenge, I found, was discriminating between "formatting feature" and "convention". When answering 3A, if I had not read ahead to find the question about conventions, I might have starting discussing conventions in 3A. The moral: read all the questions before you answer any of them.

And yet, I wonder what on earth the "Buy" column and its cute boxes are for. Is one supposed to tick it? Surely entering a Quantity would equally well indicate that one wanted to buy an item. Unclear, unnecessary.

State average was 1.05 / 4 (26%)

3a. Students were asked to identify a formatting feature that added clarity to the information presented in a table. Successful responses included formatting features such as bold headings, centred headings and the shading of alternating rows. Most students explained that these formatting features added clarity because they allowed users to distinguish between the visual elements. For example, bolding makes ‘important text stand out’, shading rows ‘leads the eye’ to the correct information and left justify ‘stops confusion and crowding on the screen’ for the user.

3b. In the second part of the question students were asked to identify two conventions and explain how each convention added to the usability of the information product. Many responses did not receive full marks for this part of the question because the conventions identified and the explanations given were not clear. Successful explanations typically conveyed the idea that the convention made the information more easily accessible to the users because it was a widely accepted and established way of presenting the particular type of information. Setting two decimal places for the money
column and placing the unit kilograms or the dollar sign in the heading of a column were the most common examples of conventions. A number of students identified the ‘check box’ or ‘star rating’ as a formatting feature or convention. These responses were successful where there was a clear explanation of how these features added to the clarity as a formatting feature or usability as a convention.

Question 4

Gina manages the medical records database for a hospital in Melbourne, Australia with 15 000 patients

a. Name the law which covers Gina's responsibilities for patients' data. (1 mark, 2 lines)

Health Records Act (Vic) 2001.

But I hope that "Privacy Act 1988" would also earn a mark, since that law would also apply to such an organisation that held medical information on its customers.

Hmmm. This is the first time a Victorian law has been tested. Interesting!

State average was 0.65 / 1 (65%)

Most students correctly listed the Health Records Act 2001 as the law covering Gina’s responsibilities for patient data.

b. Describe a security procedure the doctors should follow after finishing accessing patient data from the hospital's network. (1 mark, 2 lines)

They would need to shut down the database and/or log out of the network.

State average was 0.55 / 1 (55%)

Most students recommended that doctors should log off from the network when they left the terminal. Other answers were accepted provided the actions described indicated that access to the network was terminated.

c. A patient has a new doctor in another clinic who requests the patient's records from the hospital. Identify one legal obligation the hospital has when sending the records. (1 mark, 2 lines)

They would need to take reasonable steps to ensure the transmitted data was protected from misuse, damage or loss. (Data Security Privacy Principle).

Also, possibly:

If the new clinic were overseas, the Transborder data flow NPP might apply: the hospital should not transfer the records without the consent of the individual.

State average was 0.6 / 1 (60%)

The responses to this question included a range of the legal obligations found in Schedule 1 of the Health Records Act 2001. The most frequent legal obligation was ‘ask permission from the patient’.

d. Doctors have been asked to send complete patient records of all 18 year olds to the Australian Government Health Commission.
A patient's parents want to understand what ethical dilemmas may arise if the records are sent.

For each of the following, write a question the parents could ask to identify these ethical dilemmas. (3 marks, 3 x 2 lines)

i. Doctor

ii. Patient

iii. Health Commissioner

This was a bit of a bugger. Not easy to understand what the examiners really wanted to hear. This, I imagine will turn out to be the lowest-scoring question of the paper so far.

i. Doctor

  • If you disagreed with the Health Commission's request, would you refuse to obey it, and what consequences might you face?
  • If you objected to the government's request, would you rather destroy the health records than hand them over to the commission?
  • Even if you disagreed with the request, would you nevertheless comply if the information led to progress in healthcare for 18 year olds?

ii. Patient

  • If your records could lead to better healthcare for people like you, would you provide your records even if you didn't like the idea?

iii. Health Commissioner

  • If you received this information, would you be tempted to use it to monitor doctors' Medicare payments or other purposes?
  • If an 18 year old refused to let the doctor provide the information, would you prosecute or punish the 18 year old, or the doctor?

Nope. Didn't like this question at all. Ethical questions are always murky.

State average was 0.35 / 3 (11%) - A shocking result!

When asked to compose questions that parents of a patient would ask the doctor, the patient and the Australian Health Commission, many students responded by providing a question that would help the patient’s parents understand a legal position rather than an ethical dilemma. A dilemma is a choice between two equally undesirable choices. In most instances the responses that received full marks made it clear that the parents were weighing up their child’s right to privacy against the benefits to society. The following examples are from successful responses.

Question 4di.- Parents to doctor: Do you benefit from sending my child’s medical records?
Question 4dii. - Parents to patient: We want to make sure your rights are protected but are you comfortable for us to see your records?
Question 4diii. - Parents to the Australian Health Commission: We want our child’s privacy protected but will their medical records help research or save the lives of other people?

e. The hospital has implemented a firewall to ensure that the medical records database is not accessed by unauthorised users. Describe one advantage of a firewall for the hospital. Give an example to support your answer.

The firewall prevents hackers detecting the computer and possibly activating trojan horses that might send files, log keystrokes, or force the computer to become a "zombie" in a spam flood or Distributed Denial of Service attack. For example, if a hacker tried to make the computer send its keystroke log, the firewall would prevent the trojan transmitting through the firewall.

An odd sort of question. The question tells us what the firewall does, and then asks why it's an advantage. Pretty basic sort of stuff.

State average was 1 / 2 (50%)

Most students recognised that a firewall prevents access to the network from users outside the network. Many students were able to obtain full marks by describing a situation where the hospital firewall checked the identity of users or the content of information trying to enter the hospital network.

f. Describe one disadvantage of the firewall being the only way of preventing unauthorised access to the medical records database. Give an example to support your answer.

The firewall only protects from people outside the LAN. It does not protect against people inside the LAN, and it does not protect the database from unauthorised access. For example, any person within the hospital could enter the database and change, steal or delete information. Appropriate protection would be password protection of the database, preferably with hierarchical levels of access depending on people's needs.

State average was 0.95 / 2 (48%)

Fewer students could identify the limitations of the firewall and describe situations where users inside the network gained illegal access to records. Many students successfully recommended that antivirus software and physical barriers should stand alongside firewalls as part of a security strategy.


Question 5 - 2 marks


The close icon (which is red) on the screen shown above is described by a graphic designer as intuitive. Do you agree with the graphic designer? Justify your answer.

I agree with the designer. Red is associated by Western cultures with danger, threat, alert, so most of us would recognise that a red button demands respect. This assumption might not apply in other cultures where (for example) the funereal colour is white and wedding dresses are not white.

But as a student of mine, who is smarter than a sack of spanners, said: "What does intuitive mean?" Once again, it's a term we grown-ups in long trousers might be familiar with, but how many students had to guess the meaning of the question?

State average was 1.1 / 2 (55%)

Students were asked to comment on the notion that a given icon was intuitive, that is, resulting from direct knowledge or awareness without conscious attention or reasoning. Responses that conveyed a notion of an intuitive icon allowing users to confidently navigate the information product without needing words were successful. Typically these responses included the phrases ‘yes, the colour red means stop or danger in nature and many situations in society’ and ‘the cross means stop or not’ when used with ‘other symbols’.


Question 6

MusicWarehouse is a company that sells CDs by mail order. Sue, who owns the company, has used database management software to create the Category and Product tables for the stock records.

Category Table (CategorylD is the primary key)

CategorylD

Category Name

Category Description

Picture

1

Pop

Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5

Graphic of pop

2

Country

Slim Dusty, Olivia Newton John . . .

Graphic of country

3

Classical

Bach, Beethoven, Chopin . . .

Graphic of classical

4

Opera

Tosca, Carmen, Rigoletto, La Traviata

Graphic of opera

Product Table (ProductID is the primary key)

ProductID

Product Name

CategorylD

Unit Price
$

Quantity in Stock

1

Gwen Stefani Live

1

15.50

' 23

2

Bach Strings

3

19.60

15

3

Viva Carmen

4

23.00

9

4

Maroon 5 Unplugged

1

11.75

34

a. Recommend a data type for the ProductID field. Justify your answer.

a. 2 marks, 3 lines.

Number, integer. The field's contents are purely numeric so it will hold numbers well. Specifying a number type can make data storage more efficient.

And before we get to part b, let me wish the examiners luck marking this one. They will have to accept ANY DBMS validation syntax - or lack of syntax in the case of Filemaker, which let you enter a validation range in two boxes - no syntax required. I would love to see an offering that the examiners could definitely say is incorrect, since students were not instructed to nominate the DBMS for which the validation rule applies!

State average was 0.85 / 2 (43%)

Most students could recommend a data type for the ProductID field but fewer could successfully justify their choice. The following are examples of successful responses.
Autonumber because it provides a unique and sequential ID number automatically.
Text because it can be made unique and many companies like to include meaningful text in the ID.
Number because it can be easily made unique.

The following error message is displayed when 31.00 is entered in the Unit Price field. 'The Unit Price must be between and including $10 and $25'

b. Write the rule for this message (including symbols) (1 mark, 1 line)

10 >= UnitPrice <= 25

Unitprice >=10 and unitprice <=25

AND(Unitprice >9, Unitprice<26)

Take your pick!

State average was 0.25 / 1 (25%)

$10<= ‘Unit Price’<= $25
or
>=$10 and <=$25

Few students could write the rule for the message using the symbols.

 

c. Explain the role of the error message in enhancing the quality of the information. (2 marks, 3 lines)

The role of the error message is to alert the data entry operator to the entry of unreasonable data. Once the unreasonable data is removed, the resultant information will be more accurate and valuable.

State average was 1.05 / 2 (53%)

Successful responses to this question identified the two components of an error message as ‘telling users in plain language that they have made a mistake’ and ‘explaining how to fix it.’ Most students could identify one of these components of the role an effective error message plays in an information system.

Sue has created a one-to-many relationship between the CategorylD fields in these tables.

d. i. Define a one-to-many relationship. (2 marks, 4 lines. Interestingly, the mark allocation for parts i and ii is not given in several questions)

A one-to-many relationship is where a key field in one table can match more than one record in a related table.

ii. Explain one advantage of this one-to-many relationship.

It allows Sue to easily find all albums in a given category.

Oh dear. I was hoping the examiners could do better than a "Define this term" type question. They're way low down in Bloom's taxonomy and encourage students to memorise rather than understand. In future, please avoid them, guys!

State average was 0.4 / 2 (20%)

Few students could clearly state that in a one-to-many relationship, one record in the first table is related to many records in the second table or give an example such as ‘one record in the Category table is related to many records in the Product table.’
Even fewer students could explain that the one-to-many relationship means there is no need to duplicate data entry in the second table or that it makes queries about products in a particular category easier because the tables are linked. Some students confused the ideas associated with records, fields and tables. This is disappointing, as the concept of a one-to-many relationship is a fundamental underpinning of a reliable database management system.


Question 7


Henry wants to evaluate the new website for his bowling team. He begins by listing the tasks and labelling them as A, B, C, D, E and F on the Gantt chart shown below.

Task

Task

Duration

Predecessors

March

No.

Name

Days

 

M

T

W

Th

F

S

S

M

T

W

Th

F

1

A

2

 

 

 

 

non working

day

 

 

 

 

 

holi

day

 

 

non

working

day

 

 

 

2

B

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

C

4

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

D

1

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

E

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

F

1

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a. Complete the Gantt chart above by

  • filling in the calendar
  • indicating the predecessor dependencies
  • indicating the milestone.

(2 for calendar), 2 for dependencies), 1 for milestone

Task No Task Name Duration Days Predec-essors
March
M T W Th F S S M T W Th F
1 A
2
 
             
2 B
3
 
         
3 C
4
2
       
4 D
1
3
             
5 E
0
 
               
6 F
1
4
                     

But what's this? Task 5, the milestone has no predecessor, so it strictly speaking should happen on the first Monday! We have to assume that it comes after task 4 because it appears after it in the task list. And since the tasks have no real identities, we can't logically assume that this task follows that one. Not good. Bad, bad examiner!

State average was 2 / 5 (40%)

Many students were able to shade in the tasks on the calendar correctly but most were unable to obtain full marks because they could not correctly place a Milestone symbol and the Predecessor arrows.

b. Explain the purpose of the milestone (1 mark, 2 lines)

The milestone shows an event (of zero duration) rather than a task (which requires something to be done by someone). Milestones show progress points to let project managers see if the project is on schedule or not.

State average was 0.45 / 1 (45%)

Only 43 per cent of students correctly defined the function of a milestone as, for example, ‘the date when a group of tasks is completed’ or ‘the end of a significant point in the project’.

Question 8 - 3 marks

Stefano runs an online book selling business. To increase his business, Stefano wants to introduce a 10% discount for new customers paying by credit card. He designs a macro so that when an order is processed, new customers get a 10% discount.
Place the number corresponding to the correct action in the appropriate position in the flowchart shown below.

Not very hard. Thanks to Andrew for pointing out the glitch with my "yes/no" labels.

State average was 1.3 / 3 (43%)

A majority of students placed the correct action in the sections of the flow chart that did not involve the decision box and yes and no branches. Many students did not recognise the statement ‘Is this an existing customer?’ as the reverse of the statement that Stefano wanted to ‘introduce a 10% discount for new customers’ and placed the yes and no actions on the wrong branches.

Question 9 (2 marks)

Geography teachers at Seaside Secondary College have created a prototype website that will allow Year 10 students to access class notes, project instructions and local maps. Students will be able to upload data to the website to assist with the preparation of their projects. It is proposed that teams of students be allocated Internet-enabled mobile phones, with high resolution cameras, for their first project.

a. i. Name the type of network these teams are using.

Hmmm. Let's see why the doggies will love this breakfast. The question is ambiguous: "type" of network could refer to :

  • LAN/WAN - the mobile phones suggest it's becoming a WAN, but how far from the network are they? If they are close, it's a LAN. If distant, could be a WAN.
  • Client-Server / Peer-to-Peer
  • Ethernet
  • and probably other networking categories I've never heard of.

Student who stated any of these should get a mark. This type of poor question has floated around before. The examiners should have been more careful.

9ai.
Only a minority of students identified the network described as a WAN.

PROBABLY BECAUSE THE QUESTION WAS VERY BADLY WRITTEN!
DON'T BLAME THE POOR STUDENTS FOR YOUR OWN AMBIGUOUS QUESTIONS!

ii. Describe one advantage of this type of network for the students studying geography.

They could access network documents and upload new documents from remote locations while on site.

State average was 0.55 / 1 (55%)

9aii.
Few students could explain that as the Internet-enabled mobile phones provided students with access to the prototype website, they would be able get their class notes while on geography excursions. Successful responses gave examples that included accessing online information about geography and maps.

b. Identify a potential problem for the school when these teams transmit data to the website.

Data could be coming from unauthorised people (?)

Incoming data could contain malicious content (e.g. trojans) (?)

Not easy to come up with something convincing.

State average was 0.65 / 1 (65%)

Most students identified a potential problem if teams sent data directly to the website. Examples included ‘inappropriate images or sent text directly to website which embarrass the school’, ‘outsiders intercepting data or sending data to embarrass the school’, ‘the school would need a teacher to check content or anti virus software or spyware’.
Other successful responses focused on technical problems and these included ‘upload time, disk space, limited bandwidth and mobile drop out time’.

c. The geography teachers have been asked to evaluate the effectiveness of this prototype website. (2 marks)

i. Recommend one criterion which could be used for this evaluation. (1 line)

  • Accuracy of data uploaded/downloaded.
  • Ease of use of the system.
  • Readability.
  • Accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • Security of the site.

Remember that the question asks for effectiveness of the site, rather than its efficiency.

ii. Explain why you chose this criterion. (2 lines)

  • Accuracy of data uploaded/downloaded - if data are inaccurate, any further processing would be a waste of time.
  • Ease of use of the site - if it's hard to use, people will be unwilling to use it, or will work inefficiently
  • Readability - anything that is hard to read could lead to errors or annoyance.
  • Accessibility for people with disabilities - students could well have vision/mobility or other special needs
  • Security of the site - if it were compromised, it could be damaged and valuable data lost or damaged.

State average was 0.55 / 2 (28%)

This question asked students to provide one criterion to measure the effectiveness of the school website and most correct responses posed questions in terms of accessibility, usability, accuracy or timeliness. Typical examples included:
• will students have easier access to their class notes?
• will students be able to use the site to find the maps they want easily or quickly? (my emphasis - see below)
• will students be able to intuitively find accurate information when they need it on excursions?
Responses that only referred to time or effort without a reference to a measure of effectiveness did not score any marks.

In the second dotpoint, the examiners have it wrong. "Quickly" relates to efficiency rather than effectiveness.

9cii.
The successful explanations for choosing criteria typically stated ‘if the prototype website does not give easier access to class notes then it is not successful’.


Question 10 - 5 marks

ToysOnline advertise and sell toys online. Two screen mock-ups for a new home page are shown below.

The owner of ToysOnline does not like either screen mock-up.

a. Hand draw a new design that is complete and appropriate for the content. Indicate fonts, colours, links and layout. (5 marks, 3/4 page empty box)

It's interesting that the exam sets such a large job. In the past, questions have been rarely worth more than 3 marks. Some of my McKinnon students were taken aback because I'd told them during the year that it would be unlikely that the exam would entail a complete task (e.g. an entire Gantt/PERT chart, flowchart). Anyway, it's actually good to see a more challenging task that requires kids to plan and think.

Students should have included:

  • All of the links from the first mockup
  • All or most of the images in the second mockup
  • The images should accompany the corresponding text link
  • Font information e.g. small serif, fancy, large font (perhaps more specifically, e.g. "Addled" typeface, 20 point, italic, bold"). Remember that typeface refers to Arial, Times New Roman etc. Font is a complete set of type characteristics - typeface plus size plus styling (e.g. italic, bold)
  • Colours should show good choices about contrast (especially text/background colours)
  • Links might show the actual page name that would be linked to
  • Layout will demonstrate good hierarchical decisions (important things are big and at the top, less important things are smaller and appear later). There should be good whitespace. Page components should be attractively aligned.
  • Good students would have added links to: contacts; privacy policy; about us.

State average was 4.05 / 5 (81%) - a surprisingly good result by the cohort!

It was very pleasing to see that the majority of students received full marks for their hand drawn and annotated design of a new website for ToysOnline.

Design elements

  • proportion
  • orientation
  • clarity
  • consistency
  • colour and contrast
  • usability and accessibility
  • appropriateness and relevance

b. Choose two design elements from the list shown and explain how each has been considered in your design. (4 marks)

Answering this depends on the student's design. They should be able to show deliberate use of features that help accomplish two of the design elements.

e.g.

Colour and Contrast - I used black or dark blue text on a white background to ensure the text was easily readable.

State average was 2.8 / 4 (70%)

Students who could explain how they had used two design elements with specific reference to their design and annotations received full marks for the second part of the question.
Many students correctly explained how two design elements are considered in a website in general terms but lost marks because they did not use their own design for the ToysOnline website or their own annotations to illustrate their explanation.


Question 11


A group of thirteen professional sports coaches, located all over Australia, communicate as a virtual team. They discuss rule changes and umpiring decisions collaboratively. They use the Internet and Acme Office 2004 for their communications.

'Acme Office' - hehehehe

a. Describe how the coaches could use the Internet to make group decisions. (2)

They can use a Wiki to gather and share information.
They can use videoconferencing to mimic face-to-face meetings.
They can use survey software to do polls and voting.
They can discuss issues over email, online chat, mailing lists.
They can use VoIP to get cheap real-time phone calls.

State average was 1.35 / 2 (68%)

It was clear that most students understood the concepts associated with the agreements and security issues associated with setting up and participating in a virtual private network (VPN). Successful responses included a variety of examples directly related to the activities of the sports coaches.

11a. Students who described both a network feature and the type of collaboration it supported were awarded full marks for their response. Common examples were ‘coaches can use email to share files about game tactics’ and ‘coaches use electronic polling about decisions or new rules’.

b. Discuss how the coaches can avoid journalists gaining access to their discussions before any decisions are released officially. Give an example to support your answer. (2)

  • A Virtual Private Network could provide an encrypted channel across the internet for private discussions.
  • They could also use encryption (e.g. PGP) on transmitted documents to make them unreadable to unauthorised people.
  • Putting password protection on Office documents will protect them.
  • Requiring a username and password to enter their website would protect their site.
  • Using firewalls on team members' computers will guard against hacking.
  • Using virus scanners on team members' computers will guard against infestation by trojans which could steal information.

State average was 1.3 / 2 (65%)

Examples provided included ‘secure login or encryption or headcount procedures for a network meeting, Wiki or MSN Messenger’.

Two coaches recently installed the latest Acme Office 2008 suite on their computers. The other eleven coaches complain that now they cannot open attached files from these two coaches.

c. Explain why this problem has occurred. (1)

Acme Office 2008, invented by maniacal mogul Gil Bates, adopted a new XML based file format which is not compatible with previous document file formats, which royally annoys the hell out of people living in Acmeland.

State average was 0.7 / 1 (70%)

Most students identified the problem of an old version of software not being compatible with a new version. This was typically described as ‘not backward compatible’ or ‘they have different file extensions’.

d. Recommend a strategy to stop this type of problem. Justify your answer. (2)

Either upgrade all team members to the same vile version of Acme Office, or require all 2008 users to save their documents back to the previous 2004 format. Or give up on Gil Bates, and replace Acme Windows with Acme Linux and use Acme Open Office.

State average was 1.15 / 2 (58%)

Most students described and justified a strategy that included a procedure for agreement between coaches or a technical solution for the incompatible files. Strategies that justified the need for both were awarded full marks.

Note that the two tables that follow were laid out on facing pages through the insertion of a blank page 19. This was to make it possible to see both tables simultaneously. A pat on the back, VCAA!

Question 12

The spreadsheet below is used by AutoFresh to manage the cash and stock in automatic drink and food machines in school canteens. Each machine can dispense 100 drinks of each type.

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

1

Hot Drink Type

Cost per
Drink
$

Sales

Re-order

Total per
Drink
$

School Share
per Drink
Type $

 

 

2

White Coffee

2.20

50

YES

110.00

3.50

 

 

3

Cappuccino

2.50

34

 

85.00

1.70

 

 

4

Black Coffee

2.00

67

YES

134.00

4.69

 

 

5

White Tea

2.20

30

 

66.00

1.50

 

 

6

Black Tea

2.00

38

 

76.00

1.90

 

 

7

Peppermint Tea

2.00

23

 

46.00

1.15

School Share

8

Green Tea

2.00

8

 

16.00

0.24

Sales

$ per sale

9

Chamomile Tea

2.00

12

 

24.00

0.60

0

0.03

10

Hot Chocolate

2.50

35

 

87.50

1.75

10

0.05

11

Chicken Soup

2.00

27

 

54.00

1.35

40

0.07

12

Vegetable Soup

2.20

34

 

74.80

1.70

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

Total

 

358

 

773.30

20.08

 

 

a. Which cell indicates the total amount of cash in the machine? (1)

E14

State average was 0.85 / 1 (85%)

Most students correctly identified cell E14.

The Re-order column indicates YES if sales are over 40.

b. Write the formula for cell D2 that returns the correct answer. (1)

=IF(C2 > 40, "YES", "")

Note the empty quotes for the 'False' condition. If this were omitted, Acme Office 2004 would show 'False' rather than having no entry, as required.

I hope the examiners accept syntax from other Non-Acme spreadsheets.

State average was 0.15 / 1 (15%) - youch!

Few students could correctly write the formula for the IF statement =IF(C2>40, ‘YES’,’ ‘).

Neither could the examiners: double quotes are needed, not single quotes.

AutoFresh pays the school a share of the money based on the number of sales per month of each hot drink type.

They are calculated
for 1-9 sales the school receives 3 cents per sale
for 10-39 sales the school receives 5 cents per sale
for 40-100 sales the school receives 7 cents per sale

c. Write the formula for cell F2 that will calculate the school share of sales and which can be dragged or replicated in cells F3 to F12. (1)

The ugly answer they probably want is

=VLOOKUP(C2, $G9:$H11,2) * C2

But I hope my kids said...

"Name G9:H11 as TABLE and use the nice formula

=VLOOKUP(C2, TABLE,2) * C2

Even nicer, name the range C2:C12 as NUMSOLD and use the formula

=VLOOKUP(NUMSOLD, TABLE,2) * C2

For we all know that Acme Office 2004 lets you name a range and then a formula referring to that range uses the value in the range in that row. Neat, huh?

And if the markers penalise students for using named ranges in their answer, I hope their hubcaps fall off.

State average was 0.05 / 1 (5%)- a terrible result. The question was fair, but obviously students really SUCK with formulae. Teachers will really need to push basic Excel skills.

Very few students could correctly write the formula for the VLOOKUP statement
=VLOOKUP(C2,$G$9:$H$11,2)*C2
or
=VLOOKUP(C2, G$9:H$11,2)*C2
A small number of students wrote formulas made up of nested loops. These responses were awarded marks where the formula worked correctly.

"Nested loops"?? Do the examiners mean nested IFs?? O dear...

The spreadsheet designer has been asked by AutoFresh managers to provide a formula that returns the highest sales of all the types each month in cell C15.

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

1

Hot Drink
Type

Cost per Drink
$

Sales

Re-order

Total per Drink
$

School Share per Drink
$

 

 

2

White Coffee

2.20

10

 

 

 

 

 

3

Cappuccino

2.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

Black Coffee

2.00

25

 

 

 

 

 

5

White Tea

2.20

15

 

 

 

 

 

6

Black Tea

2.00

37

 

 

 

 

 

7

Peppermint Tea

2.00

28

 

 

 

School Share

8

Green Tea

2.00

14

 

 

 

Sales

$ per sale

9

Chamomile Tea

2.00

29

 

 

 

0

0.03

10

Hot Chocolate

2.50

15

 

 

 

10

0.05

11

Chicken Soup

2.00

12

 

 

 

40

0.07

12

Vegetable Soup

2.20

5

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The formula = Max(C2:C12) is entered in cell C15.

d. Provide test data for cell C3 to test the formula. (1)

Test

Data

Actual Outcome

1

C3 = 38

C15 = 38

Huh? A big too easy. Have I missed something here?

State average was 0.3 / 1 (30%)

Successful responses to this question provided test data that would trigger a change to the existing maximum number in cell C6, which was 37.
The most frequent successful response was C3 = 38 and C15 = 38
Students who gave responses such as C> 38 and C3= C15 were also awarded marks.

e. Suggest how the spreadsheet could be altered to enhance the meaning of the information shown in C15. (1)

Change the label in A15 to "Maximum sale quantity"?

To be a tricky little devil, you could go further (as, in fact, I think the examiners were fishing for). For example, replace A15 with this modest formula...

="The biggest sales were for " & INDEX(A2:C12,MATCH(MAX(C2:C12),C2:C12,0),1) & " which sold " & MAX(C2:C12)

This would display (for example) "The biggest sales were for Cappuccino which sold 38." Pretty basic, I know, but I can't think of anything else. Download a sample spreadsheet (Acme Excel 2003) if you're curious about INDEX and MATCH.

State average was 0.4 / 1 (40%)

The successful responses to this question suggested ways to make the spreadsheet more user-friendly. Examples included ‘add a label to the A15 cell’, ‘add a macro or coding or a program that highlights the name of the maximum sale – cappuccino’ and ‘insert a new column to highlight the name of the maximum sale – cappuccino’.

The AutoFresh managers currently receive reports containing pie graphs/charts of sales figures at the end of each month. AutoFresh managers want to print pie graphs or charts of the Sales at other times in the month.

The Help Desk creates a macro to complete this task.

f. 2 marks

i. Explain why the Help Desk chose a macro.

A macro makes a complex task simple. It is especially useful for unskilled operators, or for functions that are rarely carried out and easily forgotten. Even for skilled operators, macros are often faster than performing tasks manually.

ii. Describe how this helps to meet the managers' information needs.

It provides the information in an easily-interpreted format and in a timely fashion.

State average was 0.75 / 2 (38%)

Most students understood, in general terms, the reason for choosing a macro to solve the manager’s information problems.

12fi.
Successful explanations of why the Help Desk chose the macro included ‘a macro is more user friendly for the managers because it correctly selects the range and sequence of steps’ or ‘the Help Desk gets less calls because managers make less mistakes’.

12fii.
Successful descriptions of how the macro saves the managers time included ‘stops time being wasted on slips or preventable errors’, ‘managers can rely on the information to make important decisions because the macro is foolproof’ and ‘it saves the managers time because they can click one button and the whole chart process is done for them’.

State average for all of section B was 48% - quite a bit different to the 74% in section A. I think the balancing of the difficulty of questions went badly out of the window in 2008.

All in all, a better exam than some in the past, but a bit too easy in section A.
On the other hand, the dog got a few unnecessary treats this year with the ambiguous expression we've come to expect in ITA exams.

Thank you linesmen. Thank you ballboys. And thanks to everyone who provided valuable and thoughtful feedback.
You are as clever as a crate of cognoscenti,

End of question and answer booklet

Original Content © Mark Kelly 2008
Images and questions are © Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2008. Reproduced here with permission.

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Created 15 October 2008

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