Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stout's Campus Commuter Survey

Since we didn't quite get to talk about it in class today, I'll post some of Heather and my thoughts on Stout's survey here. If you want to take a look at the survey yourself the title to this is a link to it. The survey is on the last few pages of the document.

One important thing that Stout did was to separate seasonal and non-seasonal commuters. I think we should also find a way to make sure that changes in commuting due to weather are taken into account. Stout may have taken it too far though by also breaking it down to two month periods. While I would love to get that exact, looking at their results brings up some problems. Since this survey will only be answered by a relatively small percentage of students, it is important that we have a large enough random sample to be able to represent the whole campus. I don't remember the exact calculations to find this amount but in some of their questions Stout had less than 50 respondents. We need to make sure we have enough respondents before extrapolating the data to represent the campus as a whole.

The questions we liked most on the survey were the open ended ones asking what would make students and faculty more likely to carpool or use public transport. We should have questions about this as well and what would make one more likely to come to campus without using a vehicle at all. I like the open ended format better than the ones with choices because we can get more creative ideas which are specific to those we are trying to encourage.

My last points are less about the survey itself and more about the way they conducted it. They decided to exclude all students who lived in the dorms or studied abroad during the year of study. I think this is not something we want to follow. Students in the dorms also have cars, and even take the bus up and down the hill. Some use mopeds as well, and I think it is important that we find ways to reduce these carbon emissions as well. As far as study abroad goes, we should ask if a student did study abroad, but it is important to include them for the semester they were here. Finally, and this has been mentioned by others, I think it is important to include an incentive to taking the survey. Stout used 15, $10 pizza gift cards for their incentive. Pizza gift cards sounds like a great idea to me. Pizza may sound like a college stereotype, but it really is an almost universally desired, convenient meal. Stout also promoted their survey via pamphlets left on lunch tables and chalk on the sidewalk, which we can also work on here.


  1. I agree with your comments about the insentives, the biggest insentive for students however I believe is grades/money. No one wants to go to school longer than they have to.

    I don't know how many professors are part of this carbon footprint reduction. But I know as a psychology minor, professors often offer very small amounts of extra credit in there classes to get students to respond to studies being conducted by other students, and faculty.

    I believe if professors were up to doing such a thing, for our study (and our university) it would be EXTREMELY cheep and it would almost guarantee a large response.

    Most professors have, I don't know... 100 students? Even if only twenty professors participate, that's 2000 students that have an added bonus and give them a great educational insentive to fill out the survey.

  2. Sorry about throwing the ball in your court to all the professors on this blog. It seemed to work well in the psychology studies and it's a very frugle idea, and it's for an important cause.

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  4. When I looked at STout's results, I also noticed that they provided incentives. I was thinking that a bike give-away would be a fitting incentive, as we are trying to reduce the university's carbon footprint and the survey has to do with transportation. I realize that a decent bike is kind of expensive and would likely only allow for one bike to be given away - in this regard, multiple, smaller prizes might be the better way to go.

  5. I'm going to have to agree with Wally here - I think that there are plenty of professors who would "assign" the survey without giving extra credit, even. And why not? It is best for the campus to know what our footprint is, and how to make it smaller.
    Perhaps students could print the "thank you" page at the end of our survey to prove participation? And then professors can decide whether or not they'd like to give extra credit for that participation.


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