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St. Bonaventure University Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication J/MC 499-01 – Senior Capstone M/W 4 – 5:15 p.m. Murphy A Instructor: Pauline W. Hoffmann, Ph.D. Office Hours: T/TH: 10 a.m. to noon; 1 – 2 p.m. Or by appointment Phone: 716-375-2578 (office) 716-937-7036 (home) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred method of communication) Required Texts: A Pocket Style Manual, 4th ed., by Diane Hacker, Bedford/St. Martin Press, Boston Program Goals: 1.) Our students will write in clear, concise English. 2.) Our students will understand how to craft messages in ways appropriate for specific audiences. 3.) Our students will research critically, filter the results, and present them in a cogent manner. 4.) Our students will have a practical understanding of their chosen field of work. 5.) Our students will integrate broad-based learning into their professional activities. 6.) Our students will understand that with their power as communicators comes a moral and ethical responsibility. 7.) Our students will understand the meaning of citizenship in the context of their professional activities and their personal lives. 8.) Our students will recognize and overcome biases, prejudices and limited viewpoints (including their own) so that they can communicate effectively in a diverse world. Course Description: In this course the student produces a project in a communication field under the direction of the instructor. The project may be either a traditional research-oriented thesis or reflective of the student’s area of interest based on the school’s curriculum. Course/Learning Objectives: The purpose of this course is to facilitate the completion of a formal thesis or senior capstone project in journalism/mass communication, a degree requirement for all J/MC majors. Senior projects must be authorized by the instructor and the J/MC dean. If a student chooses to produce a traditional thesis, the research method used may be qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of the two methods. Students undertaking a quantitative thesis MUST understand quantitative research or begin by quickly gaining a rudimentary understanding. Statistical background is necessary for most, but not all, quantitative research projects. Additional objectives, directly related to the J/MC program goals, include: Exercising the skills acquired through the J/MC curriculum at the highest level of capability. Using research skills. Properly evaluating the results of research. Focusing on a skill set that best matches the student’s course of study. Instilling a commitment to professionalism in journalism or other mass communication areas (as chosen by the student). Finally, writing clearly, the ultimate “capstone” of the Jandoli School. Attendance Policy: Attendance in this class is required since we meet once. Individual conferences will be scheduled by the student. Pay attention to e-mail as this will be the preferred method of communication as a group. It will also be the mechanism by which a formal class will be called, should it be necessary. Individual conferences will be held at the discretion of the student. It is important that you keep me apprised of your progress. This is not a project for procrastinators. It will not wait until the last minute. In some cases, meetings may occur via email, particularly to deliver updates. If you would like to schedule a regular meeting, let me know. If you prefer a more self-directed approach, that’s fine also. If I do not hear from you, I will assume you are working diligently and don’t require my help. Remember, even if you think you are on the right track and know what you’re doing, talking to me may be a good idea. I’ve been doing this much longer and may have fresh insight or a new/different perspective. Instead of struggling, come see me. Proposal Approval All students must submit a proposal to be approved by the instructor and the Dean. This proposal should contain the topic of your Capstone, your hypothesis, planned research (Appendix C outlines/summarizes common research methods), and proposed communication scholarship. You may use the attached Capstone proposal sample (Appendix B) as a guideline. Grading: Final grades will be based on 100% divided as follows: Capstone Work Habits: 10%; Capstone Abstract: 5%; Capstone Introduction: 5%; Capstone Literature Review: 20%; Capstone Methods: 20%; Capstone Results/Discussion: 20%; Capstone Conclusion: 20%. Mid-term grades will be based on work to that point. Below is the letter grade scale I will use: A = 93 and above B- = 80-82 D+ = 68-69 A- = 90-92 C+ = 78-79 D = 63-67 B+ = 88-89 C = 73-77 D- = 60-62 B = 83-87 C- = 70-72 F = 59 and below The following Capstone Rubric applies (Appendix A highlights each section of the Capstone with examples.): Work Habits (10% of Final Grade): To earn an A: All deadlines met, meetings attended on time, final project professional quality. • To earn a B: Most deadlines met, most meetings attended on time, final project professional quality but with minor revisions. • To earn a C: Some deadlines met, revisions not accurate or timely, late for meetings, final project showed lack of attention to detail. • To earn a D: Most deadlines missed, meetings missed or chronically late, sloppy final project. • To earn an F: All deadlines missed, particularly final deadline, meetings missed, project not reflective of J/MC school. Abstract or Proposal (5% of Final Grade): • To earn an A: Clear understanding of proposal. • To earn a B: Proposal generally clear with minor revisions. • To earn a C: Proposal not entirely clear. • To earn a D: Proposal not clear at all. • To earn an F: No proposal. Introduction (5% of Final Grade): • To earn an A: Clear understanding of project scope and study. • To earn a B: Scope and study described with minor revisions. More clarity required. • To earn a C: No clear understanding of project or many unanswered questions. • To earn a D: Project and scope not articulated well with a lack of focus. • To earn an F: No recognizable scope/project. Theme not understand or reflected. Literature Review (20% of Final Grade): • To earn an A: Sources used were extensive, appropriate and well documented. • To earn a B: Adequate use of sources with appropriate documentation. • To earn a C: Sources used were inappropriate or inadequate, not well documented • To earn a D: Inadequate sources with poor documentation. • To earn an F: No sources and no documentation. Methods (20% of Final Grade): • To earn an A: Clear well-executed plan to collect appropriate data. • To earn a B: Plan was well-executed to collect appropriate data with minor revisions. • To earn a C: Plan in place was unclear or not as appropriate as could be. • To earn a D: Lack of detail to plan. Not clear or articulated well. • To earn an F: No plan at all or not executed. Results (20% of Final Grade): • To earn an A: Results organized and analyzed well, easily understood. • To earn a B: Well organized and analyzed results with minor revisions. • To earn a C: Results lacked organization and were not analyzed appropriately. • To earn a D: Difficult to understand, unorganized, inadequate results. • To earn an F: No results to organize or complete lack of understanding. Discussion/Conclusion (20% of Final Grade): • To earn an A: Discussion of results excellent with thought to future insight. • To earn a B: Discussion clear with minor revisions. • To earn a C: Unsure of discussion or conclusions. • To earn a D: Lacks understanding of results or unable to translate to discussion and future insight. • To earn an F: No conclusion to be drawn, inadequate conclusion, inaccurate conclusion. Class Presentation: Each student will make a 10-15 minute presentation of his/her capstone work during the last two regularly scheduled classes (Monday, December 1 and Wednesday, December 3). Video projects will be aired (if possible). Students with written projects are encouraged, but not required, to develop visual aids to assist in understanding. Please sign up now for a scheduled time. Academic Integrity Statement: Academic dishonesty is inconsistent with the moral character expected of students in a University committed to the spiritual and intellectual growth of the whole person. It also subverts the academic process by distorting all measurements. It is a serious matter and will be dealt with accordingly. A list of unacceptable practices, penalties to be assigned, and procedure to be followed in prosecuting cases of alleged academic dishonesty may be found in the Student Handbook. A Note Regarding Plagiarism: I take academic integrity seriously, and will not tolerate plagiarism or any other form of cheating. For further information, these resources on proper citation and how to avoid plagiarism may be of help: "Writing With Sources" (http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~expos/sources/) Plagiarism Defined (http://www.turnitin.com/research_site/e_what_is_plagiarism.html) Plagiary and the Art of Skillful Citation (http://www.bcm.tmc.edu/immuno/citewell/) Using Sources (http://www.hamilton.edu/academics/resource/wc/usingsources.html) There are three common styles to work with in developing a research paper: Chicago, MLA, APA. Follow your style handbook for details of the style you have chosen to work in. Choose the one you are most comfortable with and follow the guidelines for that particular style. If you compare the three, you will find that each gives similar information on citations and references. Be consistent in your use of the style you choose. All quoted material, whether from interviews, electronic media or print sources, must be set apart as an exact quote and cited. If you paraphrase information, you must use a citation to credit the source. All citations should refer to a source that is documented in more detail in your reference list. If you didn’t come up with it, cite it! Often professors have seen the reference to which you are referring and will recognize if something is not cited. Software also exists to aid professors in detecting plagiarized work. Just cite it – it makes everyone’s job easier. My experience is with APA style. If you choose another style, please refer to style manuals and be consistent. Services for Students with Disabilities Statement: Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Disability Support Services Office, Doyle Hall, Room 26, at 375-2066 as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. Documentation from this office is required before accommodations can be made. J/MC 421 Tentative Schedule/Sample Timeline Date Topic Week One 8/25/08 Course Introduction. Discussion of topics/project ideas, proposals, timelines. 8/27 No longer meeting as a class. Week Two 9/1/08 Formal written proposal due. 9/3 GET TO WORK! Week 3-End of We will meet at your discretion to discuss your progress and to answer semester any questions. Each person works differently and will have a different timeline and schedule. We will develop this individually. I will not babysit. This project is yours to do extremely well, merely pass or fail altogether. 11/21/08 DRAFT DUE! (I read drafts of projects and hand them back to you with the grade you would have as of this writing and what would need to be done to improve the grade.) 12/1/08 FINAL PROJECTS DUE! Monday, Presentations 12/1/08 and Wednesday 12/3/08 Appendix A Each student is able to do a project catered to his/her interests. Examples of projects (others may be proposed): Video documentary Public relations campaign Advertising campaign Series of feature articles Series of investigative articles Research paper Magazine development and production Event planning Any ideas must be approved by the instructor and the dean. Please don’t get started without getting approval first. NOTE: This is the time to showcase what you excel at. It is the time to highlight what you have learned while at SBU. I DO NOT recommend that you take this time to do something you have never done before. I will not disallow it, I just do not recommend it. If you have never worked with the video production equipment, this is not the semester to decide to do a video documentary. Likewise, if you know nothing about Public Relations, perhaps you shouldn’t embark on an extensive PR campaign. Choose something you enjoy and choose something you can do. If you have trouble coming up with an idea, please see me. I am quite good at getting ideas from students. Think about what you enjoy, what you like. Even if you think your likes are crazy, you may get an idea out of it. There are endless possibilities. The following represents what needs to be included in your capstone. At the end of this Appendix, you will see an additional breakdown of common capstones I have seen. This should prevent any confusion once you get ready to put your capstone together. Cover Sheets: When you have finished your Capstone and are ready to hand it in on the final due date, please see Sue Ciesla in the J/MC administrative offices. Please give her the title of your capstone, capstone advisor’s name (Pauline W. Hoffmann), date, and other information she needs. She will print one (1) copy of the Capstone cover page for you to hand it with your completed Capstone. Your completed Capstone, with cover sheet, is to be given to me. Table of Contents: This should be self-explanatory. Include a Table of Contents (which means you will have to number the pages of your Capstone). In addition to including page numbers for each section in your Table of Contents, please also include any diagrams, tables, figures, and graphics in the Table of Contents Section. Abstract: The Abstract is the shortest part of the paper. Ideally, you will relay your hypothesis, research question, or focus (goals), and what you found (results and conclusion). If someone were to ask you to describe your Capstone in less than 250 words, this would be your Abstract. Introduction: The introduction to any academic work is a summary of what you have done. What is your Capstone summary? It may differ depending on the subject matter/project focus, but it should summarize the literature on the subject, the methods you used, your results, and conclusions. There are three main parts to the Introduction: 1. What is the background of your Capstone? What made you choose this topic? What are you hoping to find? 2. What is your focus and what is your purpose? 3. What will be included in the different sections of the Capstone? This portion of the Introduction is ideal for those students choosing to write a series of articles. The Introduction is the place to summarize the articles so the reader knows what is coming up. Literature Review: This will be one of the most extensive parts of your Capstone. This section forces the student to go to the Library or at least use the online version of the Library. As a researcher myself, students in my Capstone group will suffer more because I will have higher expectations of research. Please note the following: Students are expected to cite all sources (please see A Note About Plagiarism and Appendix B in this syllabus for more information). Remember that paraphrasing information is still taking it from a source, so please remember to cite it. Absolutely cite any quotes. Students WILL NOT be allowed to use Encyclopedic references of any kind. Encyclopedias are a wonderful place to start. TO START! If you are trying to gather basic information, encyclopedias may offer basic insight and give you ideas as to where to go to get more information. That is fine. Please do not quote from an encyclopedia. I won’t allow it. If you use online references (which I know everyone will do), keep the following in mind: o Do not exclusively use websites that you found from your initial Google search of the topic. Dig deeper. You are in the J/MC school. o If you choose to use a website I find questionable, I will make you defend your choice. It would be easier to go a different route. o Remember the problems with online resources. Think about that when you are finding information. Please be sure to check books, periodicals, newspapers, journals, and other academic research options in addition to web searches, interviews, etc. The literature review should focus on what research has already been done on this subject. Assume the reader is not already familiar with what is out there. How does your subject relate to communication research? What is your research going to add to the volumes of research already done? Methods: This section describes exactly what you did. If you are writing a series of articles, this section outlines how you decided on the topics, who you interviewed, and how you got whatever other information you found. This section would also include any questionnaires, surveys, and focus group research you may have done. Think about this: If students wanted to redo your Capstone project, they should be able to read this section and duplicate it without issue. Results: What did you find? This does not include an analysis of the results; it just states the results. This would include any research findings, tables, graphs, etc., if appropriate. For those who decided to write articles, the results section will be a short section summarizing what you found when writing the articles. Discussion/Conclusion: This section includes the analysis of the results. State why you think you found what you found. This should be based on an analysis of your data/results and your knowledge of the literature available on this topic. This would also be the section to include any shortcomings you discovered along the way, any problems with your methodology, and any future questions or work in this area. Draw your conclusions. Literature Cited: Cite all work here based on your citation method – APA format is in Appendix B. APA is favored by this instructor, but is not mandatory. Notes for specific capstones – what should be included: Video documentary Cover Sheets – required as noted above. Table of Contents – required as noted above. Abstract – required as noted above. Introduction – Your introduction with be an elaboration of the Abstract. As noted above, please summarize what you did and why. Literature Review – This won’t be as extensive for video documentaries as much of the information will be contained in the video itself. Additional information could be included in the Introduction. Methods – This won’t be as extensive for video documentaries as much of the information will be contained in the video itself. Additional information could be included in the Introduction. Results - This won’t be as extensive for video documentaries as much of the information will be contained in the video itself. Additional information could be included in the Introduction. Discussion/Conclusion - This won’t be as extensive for video documentaries as much of the information will be contained in the video itself. Additional information could be included in the Introduction. Literature Cited – it goes without saying that this is required as noted above. Video – you will need to put the video together. I will need to be able to view it. If you decide you want to do video anything, the expectation is that the project is finished at the end of the semester. Public relations campaign/Advertising campaign/Event planning/Magazine development and production Cover Sheets – required as noted above. Table of Contents – required as noted above. Abstract – required as noted above. Introduction – Your introduction with be an elaboration of the Abstract. As noted above, please summarize what you did and why. Literature Review – Your Literature Review will likely be contained within your plan. It will include all of your research on the topic, the background information, executive summary, SWOT analysis, etc. Some of this information may also be included in the Introduction. Methods – This information could be included in the Introduction and in the campaign itself. Results - This information should be included in the campaign itself. Discussion/Conclusion - This information should be included in the campaign itself. Literature Cited – it goes without saying that this is required as noted above. You will need to do research. I expect that you know to whom you plan to market your campaign and why. This will require research on your part. Please see me if you choose to do this. In the past, students have just developed a magazine because they thought it might be cool. That’s nice, but not practical. Why? Who will read it? How do you know that? Your PR/advertising campaign might be cute, but will it work? How do you know? For campaigns: executive summary; SWOT; research summary and analysis; campaign ideas; campaign collateral; budget; timeline; proposed evaluation method. For events: Details of the event including, event checklist, timeline, budget, proposed evaluation method, invitations, collateral, etc. Think about what is involved in an event. For magazines: why this magazine; demographics; proposed distribution method; readership; potential advertisers (you needn’t solicit advertisements, but you should show examples of advertisers – cite them); articles (you will need to write the articles or solicit them from writers); layout/design of magazine (I expect to see a printed copy of the magazine). If you are writing an extensive magazine, you needn’t write the entire magazine. I do need to see an example, however. You may note in your Introduction any other pieces what may also be included. You will need to consider colors, page layout/design, logos, graphics, etc. You needn’t take photographs, but you may. For purposes of this project, you may find representative samples of photos and cite them. Series of feature articles/Series of investigative articles Cover Sheets – required as noted above. Table of Contents – required as noted above. Abstract – required as noted above. Introduction – Your introduction with be an elaboration of the Abstract. As noted above, please summarize what you did and why. Literature Review – This won’t be as extensive for articles as much of the information will be contained in the articles. This information could be included, briefly, in the Introduction. Methods –This information could be included, briefly, in the Introduction. The articles will highlight the methods. Results - This information should be included in the articles. Discussion/Conclusion - This information should be included in the articles. Literature Cited – it goes without saying that this is required as noted above. You will need to write at least five to six articles. The articles need to be at least three to four pages double-spaced, although they may certainly be longer. Think about the audience for your articles. Think about the magazine/newspaper/other media and make a note of it in your Introduction. Research paper – a strict research paper should be written as outlined in this appendix. NOTE FOR ALL: I am often asked about page lengths. I never give them. I don’t want crap. If you are finished – STOP. I don’t want you to write more because you think you need to give me 60 pages. If you are finished in 20, you are finished. Each person is going to have a different length anyway so imposing some arbitrary page length seems foolish. Appendix B This Capstone proposal was used in the past and was deemed appropriate to use as an example to current and future students. It is a guideline only. Capstone Project Proposal Description: I intend to write a series of investigative stories concerning the dairy industry. The pieces will include stories about the formula for milk pricing, the elimination of the family farm, the rise of corporate farms, the industry from a consumer point of view and the industry from an international point of view. I feel this project is very important because of my experience growing up in a farming community and witnessing the hardships of local dairy farmers to sustain a viable life for their families. Research Question: The entirety of my research will focus on one main question: Why are family farms unable to survive in today’s current economic climate? Research Method: I have found many sources to interview for these stories. I have connections to dozens of local farmers in the central New York area. I also have made contacts with representatives within the creamery sector along with representatives from the consumer side of the industry. I also plan on consulting with the “Market Administrator,” a bulletin which attempts to predict the change in milk prices. Importance: When this product is finished I hope I will have answered some burning questions for upstate New York farmers. I also believe that these articles will enlighten an otherwise ignorant public on the mild pricing system and the economic battles of everyone involved within the dairy industry. Appendix C Senior Capstone – Research Methods Review Guide Questions: What kind of research are you doing? Why are you doing this research? Primary Research – first hand research. Interviews, survey, observation, experiment data collected by the researcher. Secondary Research – research others have collected that the present researcher is going to use. Library research to get information others have done. Which is better? How do you measure data? How do you present data? When you are working on your final capstone paper and developing your methodology, you want to make sure that you describe your research methods in such a way that others can replicate it and get the same/statistically similar results. You will want to include a sample of your survey or the questions for your interview, or the nature of your observation/experiment, or the questions/issues in your focus group. As well, you may need to include a sample transcript of your materials. Be as detailed as possible. This section you may want to give to someone unfamiliar with your project and see if they can understand it and figure it out. What kinds of research are out there? Surveys Interviews Focus Groups Content Analysis Observation Experiments Focus Groups Participants should represent your audience/target demographic – but not be related. Often participants are paid a fee and are offered refreshments at the site. The site is usually a conference room/classroom and may have a one-way mirror. A moderator is present. The moderator acts as the “survey”. The moderator: Keeps people talking. Makes sure one person isn’t dominating the group and that all participants are heard. Encourages all to participate freely without repercussion. Leads the discussion usually based on certain questions – much like survey questions. Usually proceedings are audio and/or videotaped for later review by the researcher. The researcher looks for: Comments that may be observational or anecdotal. Recurring themes and feelings. Verbal and non-verbal comments/cues. How do you do focus group research? Choose your demographic and figure out how to reach them. Invite them to the conference room. Select a moderator they likely don’t know and who can be completely objective. Select questions you need answered. Be prepared to have a thick skin. Where do you see focus group research: Broadcast media may solicit focus group information in determining the behaviors of listeners. Also may be interested in content issues. PR/Advertising/Marketing uses focus group research all the time in brand development, new product/service development in gauging the public’s interest. We can see benefits of focus group research: People interacting in a brainstorm-type session regarding your products/services/ideas. Get instant feedback. Get verbal and non-verbal cues. Easily ascertain sincerity. Problems: What happens when you want to say something counter to the group’s view? And you are shy? Do you speak up? Or do you sit silently? May not be representative sample. Who is showing up? People who have nothing better to do? People who happened to be free that day? People who are cranky or opinionated? People who need a free meal or money? Interviews I will say no more about interviews because I know that every person in the J/MC school has had extensive experience with interviews. Suffice to say that interviews in this context are similar. You may want to consider issues with surveys and focus groups in your interviews, but other than that, go with what you have learned from other faculty. Content Analysis What is content analysis? When you think of content analysis you probably think about: Evaluating a series of ads or pr campaigns from your competition or others in a particular field. Evaluating a series of tv/radio/cable/internet broadcasts for content. Evaluating a series of print media for content. Evaluating a series of interviews or other data for content. According to Bernard Berelson, “Content analysis is a research technique for the objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication.” What does that mean? I don’t know either. Objective: all research should be objective. You should not approach research with a particular agenda. This sounds contradictory since we have said you should have an hypothesis or a research question. But we are also quick to state that you should be flexible and adapt to the data and evidence you collect. Always keep an open mind! Systematic: You shouldn’t just cherry pick those pieces that are suitable to support your hypothesis (goes along with objective). Be sure to include all you can. Sometimes it gets daunting. Perhaps you need to narrow it down. But make sure you are inclusive and systematic in your approach. Quantitative: The object of content analysis is to break the information down in such as way as to give numbers to text. This sounds complicated but doesn’t need to be. It may be as simple as analyzing a series of news articles about St. Bonaventure, 50% reference that SBU is a party school, 25% reference the bad reviews of Hickey Dining Hall, 10% Service, 10% reference academics, 5% are police blotters. Descriptive: Once you have collected your data and analyzed is quantitatively, you may describe what you see. Another approach to content analysis (while still quantitative) involves coding words/phrases into common elements. For example, CATPAC is able to take articles, interviews, etc. and analyze it to come up with common clumps. Manifest: Simply means obvious. When you analyze your data, you should see some obvious patterns that, with any luck, are based on your research questions, but if not, you follow that lead also. As with most research, what you have to do with content analysis is: Decide what you want to analyze. Decide your demographic/audience. Define what you want to measure/count/analyze. Develop categories. Figure out how you plan to code things. Collect data. Analyze data. Report results. When you are collecting data, collect everything. Observation and Experiments: Like Wild Kingdom or the Discovery Channel, you want to sit and observe behaviors of your peers or those in your demographic group. Often when developing research experiments like this, you have to have a control group and an experimental group. This takes into account the placebo effect. Go into the field and watch what people do. You may decide to sit inside Hickey Dining Hall and watch how people react to certain specials on the menu. Perhaps you sit in the lounges in your dorm and watch people react to certain news stories on TV. Or perhaps you set up certain experiments yourself. What if you want to see how people react when facing the Devereux Hall ghost so you set up equipment that mimics a ghost and get people’s reaction. You may also set up lab experiments that bring people into a lab-like setting and give them a series of tasks. If you give them a series of headlines to read to see if it prompts some action from them, what do you expect to find? Once you decide your experiment and perform it, you analyze your data in much the same way as other data collection methods. Think about whether you can observe without being seen or do an experiment without tainting the data and evidence? Survey Most people consider survey research to be the easiest method to gather data. That may be true. If you administer the survey via mail, e-mail or internet, in person, through a group interaction you are dealing with a fairly quick, cost effective method of data gathering. Of course, as with all research methods, problems exist in data collected. Two of the most important considerations in survey data are who to survey and how to craft or develop the survey. Most researchers (and that’s exactly what you are if you are conducting research, as fancy or unlikely as that label seems) think that slapping together a series of questions and distributing it to a group of people is no problem. In theory, they are correct. However, it is also far too easy to make errors in judgment that may skew your data or render it completely useless and inaccurate. We are going to prevent you from doing that. Different types/kinds of surveys: Most researchers are familiar with the standard written survey that asks a series of questions that respondents are to check off answers or express likes and dislikes on a numerical scale. Brief descriptions follow regarding the different forms a survey may take: Questionnaire: What most researchers are familiar with. Word association tests/complete sentence tests: This survey form asks respondents to give a word association or complete a sentence provided by the researcher. For example, if I want to rename the J/MC school to the Center for Journalism and Mass Communication, I may ask what association people give to the word “Center.” If I wanted to assess how people feel about Clare College I might phrase a question “Clare College is…….” and ask that the respondent complete that sentence. Interviews: I consider interviews to be a sort of survey – not in the traditional sense, but the analysis of the data may be the same. Ask for experience: This is an extension of the above survey method. If I wanted to know how people felt about Clare College, I might ask: “Can you tell me about an experience you had with Clare College” and make a note of their response. Third Person Technique: This method plays on peoples reluctance to implicate themselves. The familiar “I’m asking for my friend” is what is considered here. You may say, “How do you think your roommate feels about Clare College” to assess the person’s true feelings. People are more apt to discuss their “friends” responses rather than their own because they don’t feel as though they are expressing their own interests. Compare/Contrast: This method is often used when companies are trying to repackage or re-brand products or services. For example, if I was redesigning the course catalog for SBU, I might develop several styles and ask that people choose those they like best. Or if SBU were to develop a new ad campaign, I would ask respondents which ads would work best or ask them to give feedback on each piece. Most comments regarding surveys speak to all survey methods. Some exceptions may exist and will be noted. Survey Considerations: Sample Size: The number of people you choose to survey depends on several factors: money, time, data needed, expected response. Students have one semester to finish their Capstone projects. This eliminates huge surveys that might require thousands of responses from a worldwide audience. Some ambitious overachievers may be able to accomplish this, but they aren’t people we like to discuss. Students are also notoriously poor. Money must be saved for The Burton, not survey research. Mailing surveys can get costly, particularly since postage rates just increased. Interviews and compare/contrast studies may cost the researcher money in terms of equipment or production of materials. Students/Researchers need to decide how much data they need. If they are surveying all J/MC students versus the entire student body at SBU, the number of possible respondents is smaller. The question then becomes, how many respondents do you need in order to get results that will stand up to statistical analysis and debate? Researchers should consider that survey sample sizes are to represent the group in question. Certainly you may survey one person, but is that person representative of your group? Generally speaking, the more respondents you can get (in terms of percentage of population), the better you data and the better your results. Researchers also need to recognize that the response rate for surveys is 10% at best most of the time. If you work with this number, that should give you an idea how many people you need to send your initial survey to. If you feel you need 100 responses in order to make your data and your research worthwhile, expect to send at least 1,000 surveys. Sample/Population: Who do you want to survey? This is your most important consideration. It requires that you think very hard about what information you want, what you propose to do with that information, and why you want it. If you want to get a handle on student drinking on the SBU campus, it wouldn’t make sense to send a survey to students at Geneseo. If you wanted to poll faculty to find out their opinions about the current SBU administration, sending the survey to students won’t give you much insight. These are very black and white examples. Often the line is not that clear cut. You may want to find out how students at SBU feel about Hickey Dining Hall. Who do you send your survey to, if you send it? Do all students eat at Hickey Dining Hall? If you distributed your survey to students as they enter the dining hall and then collect the surveys as they leave, are you getting the best representation? What about students who no longer eat at Hickey Dining Hall for whatever reason, but did. Do you want their opinion? How do you get it? Please remember that try as you may, you are not going to get the perfect survey distributed in the perfect manner with perfect results. That’s an urban myth. You can, however, get the best results with what you have available to you. Administration: How are you going to distribute and collect your survey? Will your survey be confidential or are you going to personally administer your survey? How much money do you have for photocopying, mailing, etc.? Do you want to try an email survey? These are all considerations when planning your survey. There are no hard and fast answers. Just know that you must think about all of these factors in the development of your survey. Using the Hickey Dining Hall example above, I would think that distributing the survey as people enter and then collecting it as they leave would be a good opportunity to capture that population. Of course you won’t get everyone, but you will get a representative sample. If you are computer savvy, you may consider an email survey. However, bear in mind that many people will think your survey is spam and may not even open it. Email surveys are difficult to administer unless it is a population you expect to be open to an email survey. For example, SBU alumni are a loyal group. If they receive an email from a student, they will likely open it and respond. Other groups and populations may not be as interested and forthcoming. Money also determines how many surveys you distribute. Students are generally operating with limited funds and may not have money to copy, mail, provide a return envelope, etc. This may cut your sample size down considerably, thus not providing the most representative population. Students in Capstone have one semester to complete their projects (generally speaking). Developing a survey that requires months and months of preparation, distribution and analysis may not be the route to take. Questions: After deciding how you want to distribute your survey and to whom, developing the survey will be the most taxing project. Developing survey questions seem straightforward, but this may be your most difficult task. In deciding what form your survey will take, think for a moment about how you plan to analyze your data. Data is generally gathered using one of four numerical considerations: 1. Ordinal: Rank order usually increasing or decreasing order. May use to describe preferences and attitudes. 2. Nominal: Categorical description. This may be your religious or political preference, demographic information often collected through surveys. 3. Interval: Expresses the absolute distance between objects, you may add and subtract but not multiply and divide. Temperature and calendar items. 4. Ratio: Ideally what you want to collect. This information is easiest to analyze using statistical software. There is an absolute zero. Weight and duration may be measured. One measure is not necessarily better than another. In fact, the measure you use may depend entirely on what you are measuring. Asking people to tell you if they are male or female is not going to be a ratio measure, but rather a nominal measure. Asking people their preference about the Dining Hall food would rank on an ordinal scale. However, we will discuss how ordinal numbers may be used as ratio measures. Survey questions usually ask about facts, beliefs and opinions and are either open or closed. Questions about facts are easiest because they are either true or false, there is no middle ground. Are you male or female, may be considered fact. What is your age? Are you a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior? What is your major? All of these questions may be easily answered (we hope) and can also be verified. Granted, even with factual questions, respondents may lie. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Questions about beliefs and opinions are more difficult to analyze but are often more in keeping with the nature of the survey. Do you think Devereux Hall is really haunted?
"JMC capstone syllabus"