Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Willamette University Campus Commuter Survey

Just a few comments about the Willamette Campus Commuter Survey since we didn't get to it in class.
The survey is extremely short (only 7 questions) which provides both advantages and disadvantages. Having a short survey probably increases the number of people that will be willing to take it, but by severely limiting the number of questions, such as the Willamette survey did, I can’t imagine that the results would be very thorough and conclusive.
One particular aspect of the survey that I thought was good was that they asked for distance from school, days commuting per week, and weeks commuting per year, all separately. I think that this makes the survey easier for the person taking it because, at least in my opinion, it is much easier for to estimate these amounts than to estimate the total number of miles driven for the entire year.
As far as improvements go, it would be nice if they had included a section for suggestions regarding the commuter situation on their campus and also if the survey had differentiated between seasons.


  1. I reviewed Portland State University's transportation survey. One of the things that I thought was really beneficial was that the survey included a question about what would encourage students to try an alternative mode of transportation if they usually drove alone to campus. Asking a question like this is a good way to get an idea of what students are looking for and are willing to do in the future. The Portland State survey also separated the questions by season to differentiate between commuting habits in the spring/fall and winter. One thing that I thought might be a good idea for us to try is to have an incentive for the student body to complete the survey. Portland State promoted their survey by entering each student who completed the survey into a raffle to win a gift certificate. I think this could be a good way to encourage students to participate.

  2. Joe, I really agree with your second paragraph. I think that Willamette University chose a great way to phrase their commuting questions; respondents will have to go through less work to answer which in turn will lead to answers that are more clear and accurate.

    I looked at Northeastern Illinois' commuter survey. As Teresa and I mentioned in class, this survey asked their questions in a confusing manner and required the respondents to calculate out their own mileage. I greatly prefer Willamette's strategy. Northeastern Illinois' survey could also be improved by removing responses such as "always," "sometimes," and "never" because they really do not provide the research with any usable information.

    One thing I really liked about some of the other surveys was the fact that they asked how to improve the number of commuters. I think that this would be incredibly useful information that could enhance our recommendations.

  3. I think offering incentives to complete the survey sounds like a great idea. In class today, Jason and I talked about the possibility of handing out tickets to the forum or something sponsered by the campus. Maybe by doing this, we don't have to worry about spending money?

    I looked at Ashland University's survey. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with carbon emissions. It was a survey distributed to students who commute, and it asked how their experience with commuting was. The survey may be used in the future to determine possible ways to motivate people to find alternative means to get to school. For example, Ashland offers lockers, a lounge, and an exclusive meal plan to its commuters.

  4. It may be easiest to just ask the number of times one commutes per week. I know I walk to and from campus twice on Mon/Wed, once on Tues/Thurs and usually not at all on Friday. So if it were asked as number of times per day and week and then extrapolated it would be less accurate.

  5. I discussed the Willamette survey with Joe in class. An estimated time for filling out the survey (2 minutes) was given in the start of the instructions. To me, this is important to include so people can plan time to fill out the survey. I feel our survey should be longer, but at the same time not too lengthy.

    The survey also had open boxes to type number responses instead of selecting ranges. This gives us more exact calculations. They also asked for the make, model, and year of cars. Although it is an extremely lengthy process to figure out gas mileage, many problems of estimating gas mileage for all cars would be solved.

    When asked about carpooling, the survey never asks how many people are riding in the car -- 2 people is a big difference from 4 people. One idea I did like was asking for percentages of how often each mode of transportation was used.

    One last point—many students know how many blocks they live from campus but don’t know the exact number of miles. Maybe we could offer for them to answer in blocks to make it easier for them and calculate miles later.


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