The communication gap between undergraduates and mathematics professors, that is, and how exactly I’m gonna go about closing it. Totally.

Final Post

Hey all,

Thanks again to all my loyal readers who have been following this blog all year. With a mere 9 days until graduation, this is my final post, wrapping up The Gap. My thesis defense took place a little over a week ago, and my committee awarded my thesis Highest Honors.

I promised that I would post a finalized version of the thesis on here when it was available, and I am here to deliver. Because there are a few little bits and pieces to the project (not just the final copy, but also an abstract, my thank-yous, etc.), I’ve made up a little homepage at http://djvill.people.wm.edu/Thesis.html. As a bonus, I’ve included links to the stimulus materials I used in the project (inter-lesson modules, lesson videos), so if you’re really bored on a stormy summer day, you can simulate going through the project yourself! I hope you enjoy it!

One last word to underclassmen at William and Mary (and really, any college in general): I cannot encourage you strongly enough to consider doing an Honors thesis. It is a wonderful experience that will help you in your future endeavors, no matter what they are (read: even if you’re not planning on entering academia!)

Thanks again to all my readers. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Sincerely,

Dan Villarreal

The College of William and Mary, Class of 2010

May 7th, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Comments Off on Final Post | Permalink


Change of Location

Hi folks!

Just a quick update: the location of my thesis defense tomorrow has been changed to a larger room thanks to popular demand. It will now be in McGlothlin-Street 20, and still at 1pm. Thanks!

April 27th, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Comments Off on Change of Location | Permalink


ALL DONE!!

Hey everyone,

Well, I’m all finished. I turned in my completed Honors thesis, “Closing the Communication Gap Between Undergraduates and Mathematics Professors,” a week ago today. Thanks to a lot of diligent work over the summer and winter breaks, I was able to send off my final draft to my committee a full EIGHT DAYS EARLY. It was a great feeling to be able to relax for the last week before its due date. And it gave my committee an extra (and probably badly-needed) week to read my thesis. I say it was probably badly-needed because my thesis ended up being of considerable length.

How long? I’ll preface this by saying that it was at least shorter than Henry Kissinger’s infamous thesis at Harvard, which led to the Government Department there imposing a 120-page limit on future theses. His thesis, entitled “The Meaning of History: Reflections on Spengler, Toynbee, and Kant,” clocked in at 377 pages. By comparison, mine is a slender 231 pages. Much of that space is taken up by my 19 appendices; the manuscript ends after a modest 150 pages.

My defense will be held on Wednesday, April 28, at 1pm in Blair 215. The beginning portion, an oral presentation of the thesis, is open to the public (unfortunately, the committee questioning will be closed). Come on out if you’re at all interested in hearing the presentation! After my defense, I will post a link to the finalized version of the thesis on this blog.

Until then, here’s a bit of a sneak preview: the Acknowledgements page (actually, I had so many people to thank that this section is almost 3 1/2 pages long!). Enjoy!

Dan

The phrase that appears on the front of this thesis, “by Daniel James Villarreal,” is a bold distortion of the truth; indeed, a long line of people have been instrumental in making this thesis happen, and it is as much “by” them as it is “by” me. I will attempt to give them their due here, and I sincerely apologize for any omissions.

First, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my participants. Your willingness to set aside time for my research made this thesis possible, but you did so much more than idly participate. The eagerness and candor with which you addressed the discussion sessions revealed a vast network of issues, emotions, and concerns surrounding the communication gap, making possible a rich analysis of your responses. Thank you, thank you for everything.

Second, I thank the professionals who guided this project along the way, with contributions both large and small: Anya Lunden, who first introduced me to linguistics and helped with acoustic analyses; Talbot Taylor, whose service as a committee member has been irreplaceable; Chi-Kwong Li, who has unfailingly encouraged my exploration of this issue—one that is met with unease by many mathematics colleagues all across the country—from the earliest stages of this project; Jack Martin, who expressed faith in my abilities to do linguistic research and provided advice with this project; Kushal Sen, who was a lifeline for my project when finding stimulus materials looked to be impossible; Richard Wright, whose simple suggestion drastically improved my project’s design; Pauline Filemoni, Iyabo Osiapem, Marylou Zapf, Gexin Yu, Hyunju Ban, Doug Price, and Christen Cullum, who generously allowed me to speak to their classes/seminars for recruitment; Paul Showalter, who was more than happy to let me, only an undergraduate, reserve the Dulin Learning Center; and Susan Bosworth, David Hasler, and Carl Strikwerda, who provided me with essential information about hiring practices and teaching statistics at William and Mary. Most importantly, however, I thank Anne Charity Hudley, my advisor in linguistics, from the bottom of my heart. Over the last four years, you have guided and shaped me as a student, at the same time giving me freedom to choose my own path. You were there from the moment I first had the germ of an idea to do linguistic research, and you’ve been an unyielding ally in all of my research and academic endeavors since. Beyond all of that, you’ve been a friend. As much as I look forward to studying in Davis next year, it is a shame that you won’t be there, too. Thank you, thank you for everything.

Third, I thank the wonderful people at the Charles Center: Joel Schwartz, Lisa Grimes, Diana Morris, and others. You have been behind me in my research endeavors as an undergraduate ever since I decided to spend ten days trekking around Manhattan the summer after my freshman year. You expressed powerful confidence in my abilities as a student and person with the Class of 1940 Scholarship; to that end, I also thank Captain Garrett and Virginia Wetter, remarkable alumni whose example of giving back to William and Mary I can only dream of matching. Many thanks are of course also due to Ted Dintersmith, whose generosity made my fellowship possible, and who I imagine received the reaction of confusion, with which I am now well acquainted, associated with telling people of his combination of concentrations (English and physics). My fellowship was also made possible by the generosity of alumni Eric and Carolyn Mollen. To the people who have supported my studies and research I cannot express sufficient gratitude. Thank you, thank you for everything.

Fourth, I thank the fellow William and Mary students who provided help in ways I could never have conceived prior to this project. Thanks are due to Anna Dausman and Jacob Lassin, who assisted with my testing sessions; Allison Corish, whose steady eye made far fewer grading errors than did mine; Mike Blaakman, who helpfully informed me on day last year that I had to do an Honors thesis; Kristine Mosuela, Tara Safaie, and all the members of Prof. Charity Hudley’s lab group, who were instrumental in helping recruit students for this project when numbers seemed frightfully low; Meg Southern, who provided helpful suggestions and steadfast support during the times when the outlook for this research seemed bleakest; and Chelsea Marotta, who attended my pilot testing session and provided invaluable advice. Most of all, I am grateful to my extraordinary friends at William and Mary, a compassionate, brilliant, energetic group of people who have made William and Mary my second home. You have all made the hard work worthwhile. Thank you, thank you for everything.

Fifth, I thank my family, both distant and close, for their love and encouragement for 22½ years and counting. Diana, it has been a blessing to have you at school with me this year, and in a few short months I have watched you grow from a frightened prospective student to a confident, knowledgeable, and well-loved member of the William and Mary community. I also cannot forget the help you have provided me with this project, from recruiting your friends to storing dozens of Cheese Shop sandwiches in your kitchen. Mom, you have been everything a son could ask for. You have let me become my own person, and you did not protest when I decided to spend my last summer of college away from home in pursuit of this project. I love you both very much. Thank you, thank you for everything.

Finally, I dedicate this thesis to my father, James Villarreal. Your “accent that I couldn’t hear” (in the words of Rosina Lippi-Green) was the impetus behind this project, and you are no doubt a large part of my desire to pursue work in academia. You have always been a wonderful father to me, and I cannot hope to repay you for all of these years of love and support. You are an inspiration to me, and I love you very much. Thank you, thank you for everything.

April 15th, 2010 at 7:25 pm and tagged ,  | Comments Off on ALL DONE!! | Permalink


Wrapping it all up

Hey everyone,

This is my LAST retrospective post. Enjoy!

A few weeks ago, I completed the testing sessions, and it was all very successful. Thanks to the help of my assistants, Anna Dausman and Jacob Lassin, everything went off without a hitch, and I now have 84 sets of assessments and questionnaire responses. I graded the assessments with a fellow Mathematics major, Allison Corish, in a 3-hour session, and now the scores are ready to be analyzed.

I also scheduled and held 9 discussion sessions recently, in mid-October. Most of the participants from the testing sessions (57 out of 84) signed up and came to a discussion session, and I delivered people their Cheese Shop orders at these sessions. One thing I did to ensure consistent discussion was to segregate these sessions by module group; this meant that given a certain discussion session, all participants in the session would have experienced the same inter-lesson module. In response to unexpected interest from students about the inner workings of the project, I concluded the discussion sessions with a presentation on methodology, similar to the colloquium presentation (below). I have hours and hours of great data from those sessions.

Now that all of my data is collected, all that’s left is to analyze and write, write, write! Since the “research” portion of my thesis is now over and since this is a “progress of undergraduate research” blog, this will end the bulk of the writing for this blog. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed what you’ve read here!

Check back in a few days for a link to my COMPLETED THESIS!

Dan

April 7th, 2010 at 1:41 pm and tagged ,  | Comments Off on Wrapping it all up | Permalink


Preparation for Testing Sessions, Part 3

Hey everyone,

This is the latest in a series of retrospective blog posts, detailing the steps I took to prepare for the testing sessions for my thesis project. Enjoy!

With the clock ticking, I’m tweaking, tweaking, tweaking.

Only a week remains before the testing sessions, the most important part of my data collection, begin, and I’m almost ready. I’ve mapped out how the sessions will run: first, subjects will sign a consent form and be randomly assigned to a testing group (see Part 2, below). Then, subjects will be sent on their way, watching the first lesson video. Once they finish the video, they’ll ask for an assessment, and I’ll give them the assessment that corresponds to their video. Afterwards, they will be directed to their inter-lesson module, then automatically directed to their second lesson once they finish the module. They’ll receive another assessment, and once they finish it, they’ll be directed to a Linguistic Profile Questionnaire. After they fill out the questionnaire, they’re done.

This means that, after the experiment begins, there are four points at which I have to interact with subjects: twice to give them an assessment, and twice to collect the assessment and give them instructions as to what to do next. More than likely, these points will converge for a lot of subjects. So I’ve decided to get some help; two friends, Anna Dausman (who works with my advisor, Prof. Anne Charity Hudley) and Jacob Lassin, will assist in handing out and collecting assessments, and doing whatever else is necessary to make the testing sessions run.

It’s always good to get other people to take these sorts of experiments on test runs so they can point out flaws and issues that you may not notice yourself. As a result, I get a few friends to participate in a pilot session simulating an actual testing session, and everything more or less goes off without a hitch. The only thing I change is the formatting of one of the assessments. No big deal.

Finally, I decide that I’m going to need a hand taking care of all of the assessments, over 150, that the testing sessions will generate. Using some of the remaining money from the Dintersmith Fellowship, I arrange to have a fellow Math major, Allison Corish, help me out with grading. Having an additional set of eyes to look over the assessments has the added advantage of avoiding grading mistakes. In any experiment, it’s important for the assessors to get an idea of the experimental conditions (unless the experimental design explicitly calls for this sort of blinding), so Allison actually shows up for one of the testing sessions and goes through the experiment as a participant. Her scores will not, of course, be included in the data analysis. Anna and Jacob are also not informed that she is an experimental confederate.

The testing sessions run from October 3-6, and when they conclude, I am hit with a sense of overwhelming relief. I’ve actually done it! Now, it’s time to grade and analyze the assessments, and move on to the discussion sessions, where I will collect qualitative data.

March 25th, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Comments Off on Preparation for Testing Sessions, Part 3 | Permalink


Colloquium Presentation

Hey all,

Thanks to those of you who came out to my Honors Colloquium presentation! For those who couldn’t, I’ve posted the presentation and handout online at http://djvill.people.wm.edu/Colloquium.html. Thanks, everyone!

Dan

February 18th, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Comments Off on Colloquium Presentation | Permalink


Preparation for Testing Sessions, Part 2

Hey everyone,

This is the latest in a series of retrospective blog posts, detailing the steps I took to prepare for the testing sessions for my thesis project. Enjoy!

Logistics, logistics, logistics.

Now that I’ve got all of my stimulus materials completed, I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to disseminate and control access to the lesson videos and treatments (Control, Bias, or Training–if you don’t remember what these mean, see the quoted section in “A Left Turn,” below). You see, as suggested by the tenets of statistics, I’m going to use randomization to place students into two types of groups: one will determine which lesson videos they see and the order in which they see them, and another will be the larger experimental group (Control, Bias, or Training). These groups will be independently chosen, such that a participant’s larger experimental group does not change the probability of any given lesson video ordering, or vice versa.

If I have 3 lesson videos, there are 6 different orderings in which they can be presented (A-B, B-A, A-C, C-A, B-C, C-B); it’s important to take into account the ordering of videos, as one may end up being much easier or harder than the others (remember, I cut out the prestudy that would determine the difficulties of the lessons). Coupled with the 3 experimental treatments, this means that there are 6 x 3 = 18 different experimental groups. So the question becomes thus: how do I herd students through a unique lesson video, a unique treatment, and another unique video?

The best solution I can think of is to create abstract group names; a student will be assigned to one of these groups at the beginning of the testing session, and they will use this group name to guide them through the various steps of the session. I actually end up putting a LOT of thought into these group names, because I want to avoid any possible priming effects arising from a student’s group name biasing them one way or another before the experiment really even begins. Overly cautious? Maybe, but I’d rather spend time being overly cautious than run roughshod over my methodology.

Again, there are 18 groups, which can be schematized by this table:

Subgroup →

Group ↓

A then B

(0)

A then C

(1)

B then A

(2)

B then C

(3)

C then A

(4)

C then B

(5)

Control (0, 3) ACtrlB ACtrlC BCtrlA BCtrlC CCtrlA CCtrlB
Bias (1, 4) ABiasB ABiasC BBiasA BBiasC CBiasA CBiasB
Training (2, 5) ATrngB ATrngC BTrngA BTrngC CTrngA CTrngB

And these are the group names that I selected to correspond to each:

Subgroup →

Group ↓

A then B A then C B then A B then C C then A C then B
Control Apricot Honeybee Primrose Daffodil Lily Sunflower
Bias Nature Butterfly Iceberg Quill Eggplant Market
Training Gateway Opal Clarinet Jackrabbit Radish Fuchsia
A = Permutations and Combinations, B = The Proof That the Square Root of 2 is Irrational, and C = Relations and the Cartesian Product

In order to randomly assign participants to testing groups, I will use a TI-84 Plus calculator to give me two random integers between 0 and 5 inclusive (Math > Prb > 5:randInt > randInt(0,5,2)). (Okay, this is actually only a pseudorandom process, but that’s fine for this application.) This will ensure that the selections of treatments and videos are independent of one another. On the first table, the numbers on the leftmost column indicate the selection numbers for the experimental treatment, and the numbers on the topmost row indicate the selection numbers for the lesson videos.

Now that I’ve got these group names hammered out, what in the world am I going to do with them? One option is to load the lesson videos and inter-lesson modules onto each computer terminal in the Dulin Learning Center. I could create shortcuts with each group name so that I wouldn’t have to re-load a video or module for each group. Still, I’m not certain that I’m really permitted to do this, and even if I was, it’d be quite a bit of work to load the about 200 MB of data that the whole of the lesson videos and modules comprise onto each of 20 computer workstations.

No, it’s time to harness the power of the internet. By posting these materials onto the web, I can still direct students’ access to certain videos and modules, and I avoid having to store them in more than one place. I have discovered a website called SlideBoom that allows me to make these lesson videos (which, recall, are actually just PowerPoint presentations) into ShockWave Flash (.swf) files–that is, bona fide videos. Furthermore, digitizing most of the project means that if I so choose, I can use the same stimulus materials for future projects with relative ease.

As a William and Mary student, I’m allotted 50 MB of webspace on the domain http://djvill.people.wm.edu. I use this space to make a 6 pages for the lesson videos (2 for each video). Three of the pages include a brief text intro, which convinces students of a bit of a ruse (don’t worry; this, too, was approved by the PHSC). Specifically, students learn that the William and Mary Math Department is looking to make a new hire, and that they are being asked to evaluate a prospective professor’s teaching abilities. I wanted to include this story so students wouldn’t focus on figuring out the external reasons for the project, and so students would actively invest themselves in trying to understand the professor. The other three video pages are the “lesson 2” versions of the first, with a shorter intro (but no change to the video). An example of these pages is http://djvill.people.wm.edu/PermComb.html, the “lesson 1” version of the Permutations and Combinations video.

Similarly, I placed each of the inter-lesson modules on my webspace, spreading them out across a few pages apiece. For example, recall that the Bias module consists of three documents; these were each given their own pages. Of course, I did not give the starting pages for these modules names like http://djvill.people.wm.edu/Bias.html, but http://djvill.people.wm.edu/DailyPenn.html (since the first article is from the Daily Pennsylvanian).

In order to make all these pages make sense, I had to tie them into the group names somehow. This was easily accomplished using “redirect” pages, that is, pages whose only purpose is to shove the browser in the direction of a different page. For each testing group, there were three redirects: first lesson, module, second lesson. This meant 54 redirect pages in total; fortunately, these things are tiny (108-112 bytes, a computational grain of sand). These took the form http://djvill.people.wm.edu/<groupname-nocaps>_lesson.html, …/<group-name>_mid.html, and …/<groupname-nocaps>_lesson2.html, respectively. For example, the page http://djvill.people.wm.edu/butterfly_lesson.html redirects you to the PermComb link given above:

<head>

<meta HTTP-EQUIV=”REFRESH”
content=”0;
url=http://djvill.people.wm.edu/PermComb.html”>

</head>

The butterfly_mid link is a redirect to the Bias module, and the butterfly_lesson2 link is a redirect to the “lesson 2” version of the page containing the Relations and the Cartesian Product video.

Notice that a bunch of these URLs redirect to the exact same page as one another; far from being redundant, the use of these individualized URLs allowed me as an experimenter to preserve blinding while maintaining control over each participant’s progression through the stages of the testing session.

With the web content under my belt, I only had a little more prep to do before the testing sessions!

February 11th, 2010 at 4:16 pm and tagged ,  | Comments Off on Preparation for Testing Sessions, Part 2 | Permalink


Honors Colloquium!!

A quick PSA, dear readers:

This Monday, February 15, I will be presenting my Honors thesis (i.e., what you’re reading about in this blog) as a part of the Charles Center’s Eleventh Annual Honors Colloquium (http://bit.ly/bCF1Gq). The presentation will be given in Blow Hall 201, and will run from 6:30-7:00. If you’ve been reading this blog, you will have a more thorough knowledge of the process of creating this project (recruitment takes up two posts on this blog, but only half a slide on my colloquium presentation), but the colloquium presentation will be more of an overview. Come on out if you’re interested!

In a bit of housekeeping business, I have decided to shut off all commenting on this blog, effective immediately. The ratio of spam comments to actual comments I have received is something on the order of 400:1, and despite the best efforts of WordPress’s spam filter and Defensio add-on, the amount of spam is unacceptably high (have they never heard of Captchas?). If you would like to leave feedback on this blog, please simply email me at djvill(at-sign)wm(dot)edu, replacing the parenthetical terms with the characters @ and . (this, too, is an anti-spam strategy). Sorry for any inconvenience this might cause, but from the paucity of actual comments I’ve received on this blog, I don’t think anyone’s going to be particularly hurt by my disallowing comments.

February 11th, 2010 at 4:10 pm and tagged ,  | Comments Off on Honors Colloquium!! | Permalink


Preparation for Testing Sessions, Part 1

Hey everyone,

This is the latest in a series of retrospective blog posts, detailing the steps I took to prepare for the testing sessions for my thesis project. Enjoy!

I’ve got quite the bit of work ahead of me.

The task I started over the summer, putting together lesson videos from videos on the internet, is far from over. I’ve got one of them started, and another “storyboarded”, but that’s all so far. I’m looking to get a third lesson video completed, as well. That shouldn’t take all that long.

What I’m really concerned about are these things I’m calling “inter-lesson modules”. If you recall, the meat of the testing session will consist of two lessons and assessments, separated by a module corresponding to the subject’s testing group (Training, Control, or Bias). The results between these groups are what I’m really interested in; if students who do the Training module show significantly greater improvement from the first assessment to the second than those who don’t, it’ll show that the Training module was effective.

In designing the Training module, I want to address two things: students’ honest difficulties understanding their professors, as well as bias impeding students’ perceptual efforts (whether consciously or not) to understand their professors. As a result, the first half of the module is devoted to Linguistic ideology, instructing students (for example) about the axiom that every speaker speaks their language with an accent, whether or not it is the “standard” accent for their language. Students are also taught that all accents have regular patterns, even if they might be difficult for students to figure out without training in Linguistics. This dissuades students from stigmatizing professors’ accents and encourages them to notice patterns of professors’ speech in order to improve understanding. After this section, students read about various accent features of the professor whose voice is used in the lesson videos, and heard clips of her speech to illustrate these features.

Whereas in the Training module, I wanted to encourage students to do their part in understanding professors, in the Bias module, I wanted to exploit these concerns and qualms about professors; the purpose of this is to simulate the type of conversation that goes on about these professors every day on campus, and to see if it had any detrimental effects. For this module, I took an article from the Daily Pennsylvanian (UPenn’s student paper) entitled “Hard to decipher your TA’s English?”, a table of RateMyProfessor ratings, and a blog post, none too supportive of the view that students needed to make contributions to solve the communication gap.

Finally, the Control module was meant to be fluff, filler between the lessons so students would be reading something, just not anything that could possibly influence students’ feelings about the communication gap one way or the other. It included a news item from the William and Mary website about a grant funding a new program within the Math department (which played into the scenario students were given at the beginning of the testing session…more on that later). It also included an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Mathematics education; nothing fancy, really.

After designing the lesson videos and modules, I had to figure out how to get them to my participants!

February 9th, 2010 at 10:22 am and tagged ,  | Comments Off on Preparation for Testing Sessions, Part 1 | Permalink


Recruitment, Part 2

Hey everyone,

This is the latest in a series of retrospective blog posts, detailing my recruitment efforts for my thesis project. Enjoy!

Okay, ready for action.

There are 8 sections of Calculus I this semester, with a total enrollment of 261 students, and 4 sections of Study of Language, the introductory Linguistics course, with 115 students. If I get the chance to talk to each of these sections, and if they all show up for class on the day I’m there, that means I’ll be talking to 376 students. If I want to hit my goal of 120 participants, I’ll need 32% of these students to show up for the project. Accounting for attrition in the sample, I’d like to get about half to put their names down as interested. With a sweet incentive like the Cheese Shop, how hard could that be?

Fairly hard, as it turns out. I talk to all four Study of Language sections, and five out of the eight Calc sections (one at 8am in the second week of classes!), and results are mixed. One of the Calc sections yields me only 4 names. So I look for other venues. I ask Calc II professors to email out the recruitment flyer I handed out to other classes. I have my advisor, Prof. Anne Charity Hudley, to get names at a Monroe lunch. I even went to a meeting of all the Sharpe Scholars, a group of 60 or so freshman with a special interest in community service. A bunch of them, empathetic as they are, are bound to sign up, right? 5 names. Ouch.

Eventually, I make my way up to having 75 or so names and emails. On September 13, I email everyone who indicated interest to fill out a non-binding survey (on Google Docs) so I can figure out what times people are free for the testing sessions. Within a week, 44 people, over half, have responded, and I’m encouraged by the response rate. By September 25, I’ve confirmed 7 periods to use the Dulin Learning Center (a computer lab) at Swem Library, with the help of Swem’s Paul Showalter. It’s official: the testing sessions for my project will run from October 3-6, a four-day sprint.

The same day, September 25, I email all of my interested participants to encourage them to sign up for a testing session, on a form I’ve created with Google Docs. They can sign up for any of six testing sessions, and in order to up my numbers of participants, I invite them to bring a friend (who can also get free Cheese Shop). Out goes the email.

And up goes my anxiety. I’d hoped that the email would elicit a large, quick response (since I figured those who didn’t respond within a few days probably wouldn’t respond at all), but as of mid-day September 29, I’ve only got 25 people signed up. 25 is not nearly enough.

With only 8 days until the first testing session, I can’t afford to sit on my hands. First, I shoot off a reminder email to the prospective participants who haven’t already signed up. Then, I get the secretaries of the Filipino-American Students Association (FASA) and the Heritage Language Learners of WM student groups to send out the sign-up link over their listservs (thanks so much, Kristine Mosuela and Tara Safaie!). I solicit recruitment help from members of Prof. Charity Hudley’s lab group, I put up an ad for help on the Student Happenings email that gets sent out to the entire student body, and I even get my sister, Diana, who’s a freshman, to recruit hallmates.

If some of these methods (in particular, getting my sister to recruit, as well as recruiting from FASA, a group with which I am somewhat involved) smacked of convenience sampling, I comforted my unease over this by reminding myself that, in the real world, divorced from the enthusiatic ideals of an undergraduate Statistics textbook, every work of social research on live humans uses convenience sampling. The key is striking a balance between statistically sound sampling methods and a sampling size that’s statistically sufficient for the research you’re doing, and this will always entail compromise.

The extra push paid off. Within a day and a half of stepping up my recruitment efforts, I had more than doubled my sample, to 62. By the time my first testing session began, I was up to 85, and 17 more people signed up after the first testing session for later ones. Of course, not everybody showed up, but most did. With 84 total participants, I was kinda close to my goal of 100-120. Then again, I didn’t realize until I actually got into the business of recruiting people just how difficult it would be.

Next up: the testing sessions.

January 28th, 2010 at 8:40 pm and tagged ,  | Comments Off on Recruitment, Part 2 | Permalink