Thursday, February 11, 2010

CNT 2008 Survey

I just want to remind you all to look at the transportation portion of the survey that I sent out via e-mail to the class distribution list. I have a few questions for you to think about/discuss:
  • What are your thoughts about the questions for last year?
  • After looking at the Clean Air Cool Planet Carbon Calculator (CACPCC) what information do we need to enter in?
  • What information is viable to get?
  • What can we do this time around to make it easier?
  • Can we get better results?
*Feel free to discuss the balance between many questions (more questions=increased information) and time it takes a survey taker to complete (more time=decreased responses).


  1. I don't want to drag on and on, so I'll keep my responses short:
    I think that the questions for CNT08 were good, general questions, but that they may have left out a few important distinctions (such as what counts as university-related, etc.)
    CACPCC requires many entries, including institutional data, cogeneration data, transportation, refrigerants, and agricultural data. There are more categories, and certainly sub-categories, as well.
    The information that is most important, in my mind, concerns things that we might change. For example: transportation needs - how do we get more people to walk/bike, electricity - how can we save on energy, and so on.
    I think that we can make this process easier by getting started right away. The longer we wait in this class to get going - the more rushed our process is going to be. I'm itching to do something that could potentially be reason for change on this campus. It's important to get other people in this community involved in this project. As we discussed in previous comments, I think that we should invite professors to "require" taking this survey (with or without extra-credit) and, if available, include incentives - such as donated coupons, etc.
    We can certainly get more, and more accurate, results by asking plain-worded yet detailed questions and making the survey direct. We should ask only the questions that we need, and make them as efficient as possible.

  2. I guess that, based on what I'm seeing from the survey you all used last time, we can probably achieve more accurate results if we give students something to gauge distances off of. What I mean by this is, looking at the first question, I would have no idea how many miles. If we could include a couple of landmarks that students live near (neighborhoods, well-known buildings, etc.) and their distances from campus, I think that would allow us to gather more accurate results than if students were merely guessing. I think that Andi stated pretty well how much info we need to gather for CACPCC and I agree with her completely that it'd be best to just get going on this thing, even if we do hit a few road blocks on the way. Believe it or not the semester's almost a quarter of the way over so if we can get a survey out to the students in the next few weeks, we'll have enough time to give them a couple weeks to respond without being completely crunched for time. I do think it's important to consider that we want as high participation in the survey as is possible. Therefore, we should probably make the survey as succinct and user-friendly as possible, to avoid scaring off any students from taking it. In my opinion it'd be best to obtain the information that is most pertinent in figuring out the Carbon Footprint, and leave out information that is less necessary (things that would only affect the calculation slightly).

  3. I agree with Steph, I'm sure most people have a difficult time forming even a rough estimate of the number of miles they drive just for University Related activities...especially over an entire year! I would even venture to say that the responses to this question are inaccurate to the point of being unusable because I'm sure no one taking the survey really spent much time trying to figure out how far they travelled. Also, since the possible answers are different by hundreds of miles, this can cause a huge margin of error. I know that calculating the exact amount of emissions for each person on campus is totally unrealistic, but I feel like there must be some way to be a little more accurate, both in the way the question is presented and in the possible answers. I don't know for sure what that would look like, but that's just what I am thinking.

  4. In response to the comments about exact mileage, I feel that perhaps an easy solution would be to have a link to something like google maps that is centered on UWEC. Then all the survey takers would have to do was insert their address to get a pretty accurate reading of how far they are from campus. The only problem I see with this is that it is just one more thing that they survey taker has to deal with, but hopefully those who were taking our survey wouldn't mind in order to be more accurate.
    Also, I agree with the other comments about getting started with this survey soon. We need to have enough time make it, for it to circulate, and then for us to assess the data, and the semester year is almost a fourth over!

  5. I appreciate everyone's energy and interest--we will be getting started in earnest next week; I'm rescheduling the heating plant tour for later in the semester specifically so we can do that. Meanwhile, Robyn and I are working "behind the scenes" to pull some resources together that will help us accelerate the process!

  6. In relation to getting more accurate "university related travel" numbers. University related travel, differs in our inventory than commuting. The reason that we found that most of our respondents (students, staff, and faculty) do other traveling is for presentations, student teaching (and their evaluations), internships (and their evaluations), field trips, and conferences. Most of these distances easily add up to more than 100 miles. (A car trip to Madison and back, is ~500 miles alone!) We contacted the College of Education to determine placements for teachers, and the College of Business to determine common internship placements. We then averaged distances and what not to determine our categories...they were not arbitrarily chosen.

    Recalling a previous comment by Steph, that you need to make the survey as succinct as possible. Students, faculty, and staff will not answer a ton of questions, even with the promise of a coupon reward. It was a stretch to get 1300 responses when we did it, but we had much less time to act than you do. Don't feel stressed about timing in the semester. You are already ahead of schedule than we were in 2008.

  7. I looked up how many blocks are in a mile-- 12. This information alone would help many students be able to judge their distance in smaller and more familiar terms. Asking for exact addresses, although accurate, would add tedious work to compiling data. Also, people may feel as though the survey is no longer anonymous by giving personal addresses.

    I also think we should include an approximate time to complete the survey as to not inconovenience or rush people. Personally I would like to know how much time I will be devoting to this survey.

    One more issue was adding a question where participants can write a suggestion for change. I agree these will be practical in helping our CNT 10 team decide what changes to make. Those are just a few things to think about, and our transportation team is meeting tonight to decide on what questions to include.


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