Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Really the only thing that I can say that hasn't been said already (to my knowledge) is, "Make sure to get a partner".

I was one of the very, very few people in the class not to have a partner for the project. I thought I would be fine on my own, but in retrospect it would've been really helpful to have some... help. Collecting the data alone took up so much time. Granted, I was lazy, but it wasn't until the end of eighth week that I had all my data in; and I only ended up with 28 samples!

So be sure to have a partner, and be on top of things.

I guess you should also know exactly what you're doing with your research. My topic was very broad and conclusions were hard to draw from. Be specific, and make sure your questions are specific.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Advice (even though you might just have to learn the hard way)

Okay.  Everyone is going to tell you the same advice.  You already know what that is.  But there is nothing we can say to make you do it.  It's one of those lessons that you may have to learn on your own and then slap yourself in the head during the all-nighter that you pull before the project is due.

I remember being in your position, reading the comments on the blog re: advice, thinking that I am not going to be that student, that I will be okay with time.  Wrong.  This project needs time.  I did not give it the time it deserved, and therefore I did not receive the grade I wanted (to my defense, I was overloading that quarter, so I probably did not have the time required for the project... yet that is still an unacceptable excuse).

So, Student.  Get started on the project-- now.  Plan out small goals as to what you want to conquer that week.  Even though I am bad at my own advice, I am getting better and these methods do help.

Also, focus on the statistical analysis.  I put all of my brain power and energy into the discussion and introduction, because that was what I was interested in (my project was on the labor movement and college students' opinions on labor unions and workers' rights today).  However, this is a stats class.  And Chuck really cares about the stats over any labor history.

Another topic for a research project could be the satisfaction of K students and their majors.
I know I am very displeased with the K College Spanish department.  I would love to have the opportunity to undergo another study and ask K students what they think is important about a Spanish Major and what topics do they think Spanish majors should cover in class (because I do not think it should revolve around literature or a particular writer, which it does).

Regardless of the topic, Chuck is really correct when he says study something that you're interested in.  Because I am all about the labor movement (I worked as a union organizer for the U.A.W.) and even I did not spend enough time on my project.  And I always am fond of studying something that is useful and needed.  To brainstorm, just think about the things you want to fix at K and then develop some questions that you can ask people about.  Bam.

Advice for future students

            My advice for future students would be to not be worried about the project and trust yourself that you know the information. It is a great extra toll to help understand the basics of the class. I encourage students to begin surveying and recording information as soon as possible because it isn’t fun to cram last minute. I would also spend time messing around and learning how to use excel properly because if you don’t know the ins and outs of excel it can add a lot of unnecessary time on working on the project.
            A possible option for future projects could be testing the use of the weight room and whether or not it would be beneficial to improve the weight room equipment. I had a similar idea in mind before continuing with my favorite bar campaign. Surveying K college students was easily accessible and gave us a large enough sample to conduct a proper survey.  

Advice for Future Students

To all future students who take this class, the best advice I can give you is to make sure you have a really good idea from the get go on what your main question/topic is. Also, you should spend a good amount of time really formulating the who(are you surveying), what(do you want to answer), and how(are your going to go about/test it) of your survey. The longer you spend "perfecting" your survey and the more people you test it on, the better off you will be in the long run because if you have a crappy survey, it is just going to make the testing and putting all of the data into excel just that much more difficult. Also, even though everyone knows how busy K students are, really try to put some effort and time into getting a LARGE and RANDOM sample because the larger and more randomized it is, the more likely that your conclusions are going to actually be relevant which = you didn't just put a lot of effort into something that has no point and/or doesn't even answer your main question which =     : D

Future topic:
How much alcohol do K students consume, what are their drink(s) of choice, and how much are they willing to spend on alcohol (priorities)?

Advice for future students

I would strongly recommend spending a lot of time in the early stages of this project making sure you have a base of solid questions and ideas before you make your survey. The longer you spend working on the design and the questions in your survey the easier the rest of the project is going to be. Also try to make sure that whatever topic you find the topic you choose interesting because it will make it a lot easier to carry on with the project if you actually want to work on it.

Possible topic:

Caffein intake of the average student on the Kalamazoo College campus.

Advice for Future Students

There are a couple things that I'd like to recommend for students doing this research project in the future. First, make sure the wording in your survey is such that the question can't be misinterpreted. Otherwise, you can get skewed results. Also, don't wait until the last minute to start your calculations. This was the part that probably took us the longest. They're going to take you much longer than expected. Lastly, I wouldn't recommend using a site like surveymonkey.com, and the sending the survey out to students. We tried using this method and got a very low response rate.

I think an interesting topic could be one in which the idea expands on what we studied with textbooks and spending. I think it would be cool to go more in depth with this and study textbook spending not just in general with students at K, but take a look at spending by major, and look to see who spends the most on books, what majors buy their books where, etc.

Advice for future students

I would like to strongly suggest future students to put their time on designing a survey. Obviously, there was a reason that survey had to be revised twice as it's the most important step in whole survey. Especially, making survey questions! Consider how long it takes and how you can use that question to draw conclusion. And as all the others already said, start the project as early as possible and be ahead of deadlines all the time. 

Possible Topic
College students' spending habits in certain schools - maybe K, WMU and KVCC

Choose something YOU are interested in! It will be NOT FUN if you have to write 20-30 pages report about something boring.