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I just had what I think may be a great idea for a psych study, albeit with some tweaking. Here's the deal: you get students in the lab, measure personality and satisfaction with their university social experiences on various scales for error checking, plus get self-report data through a questionnaire of some sort. Then, somehow, either through self-report or through university information—although getting one's hands on that information might be difficult due to privacy concerns—find out where each given student lives currently, where they lived their freshman year, and then, whether by asking the students or by looking at schematics of dorms, find out where each given room lies within its respective residence hall or apartment, then within the larger sphere of university and off-campus housing. The university community could be assigned a center, or several centers, with proximity to each center assigned a certain value or range of values.

Once numbers are assigned, statistical analysis could be done to show whether certain areas or residence halls show a bias or predisposition towards unhappiness or satisfaction, etc. Possible confounding factors might include specific events that happen within each area, who lives around each given student, academic conflicts, communication between students regarding the experiment, inaccuracies from self-report measures, problems getting data on student residences, and the fact that the students surveyed would be mainly from the psychology-major subject pool. The last of those could be gotten around possibly by bringing the measures to students in their dorm rooms and apartments, or making the test available online, thereby ensuring a larger sample size and a less skewed mix of respondents, although then the control over the environment in which students are tested would be lost, hence skewing the students' answers.

There are problems with this, to be certain, but do you see what I'm getting at? The essential question is, Do differences between various residential areas and dorm environments lead to corresponding differences in students' levels of satisfaction with the university's social environment? If so, what kind of differences? Further, how do specific locational factors influence students' satisfaction levels across the board in all locations?

In short, the experimental design isn't quite clear, there are so many factors I'd like to include, but it'd probably end up being a series of experiments/correlational studies. The within-dorm location questions, plus measures of personality and satisfaction with the university social experience, are the real key to what I was thinking about when I wrote that all down. I thought of it on the way back home, while looking at the old dorms and thinking, per usual, about their boxy, hivelike nature. Living in one of those rooms is like living in a cubby hole in a set of wall-mounted mailboxes.

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I wonder if university students in general use A. too many commas or B. too few commas in their writing. Both are problematic, but I wonder where the bias lies.

1:56 pm, October 20, 2003 :: the jablog years

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