Undergraduates Perform Own Study

By Elizabeth Romero, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing
April 23, 2008

Students of Professor Robert Hanneman's Sociology 004 class gave a presentation of their research on March 5th. Graduate students Kirk Lawrence and Kevin Huntley, mentored undergraduates Fabian Villegas, a Political Science major, Daniel Mejia, a Chicano Studies and Sociology major, John Orrell, an Economics Administration major, Thomas McCandless a Business Administration major, and Brian Judson, a Sociology and Spanish major, who were required to conduct a study and give a presentation; helping in bridging the gap for undergraduates learning reseach methodology from professors effectively.

The research method utilized was that of content analysis which in this case, was an exercise to describe different variations of home web pages belonging to institutions of higher education in the United States. Kirk states we hypothesized the variation of the content of home pages is associated with the number of variables, including where the school is located, whether it is public or private, large or small, religious or non-religious, and other factors. The students were able to compare public and private universities, displaying how private universities receive funding from corporate and alumni sources, and appeal to upper class corporations, while public schools are funded from taxes and generally appeal to the government. They also were required to examine 100 universities and take one private and one public university from top, middle, and lower tiers and analyze them through manifest and latent content. In the manifest content, the five undergraduates looked to see if the web page was concrete, and easily identifiable. Through latent content they looked for the underlying meaning and creative analysis.

Kevin Huntley also mentored the undergraduates with unobtrusive observation study. The purpose of this research was to observe and then describe the patterns of the student's interaction of the public spaces provided on campus. Kevin states that we hypothesize the variation in students behavior (such as whether students are engaged in study or non-study activity) are based on with time and place which they are observed, and also by their gender and race.

Through the research conducted by the five undergrads, with team mentors Kirk Lawrence and Kevin Huntley, who were advised by professor Robert Hanneman, the study was able to identify to attendees that public versus private is not as important as their individualranking, that private schools promote small class size, and that public schools tend to appeal to diverse students.

Sociology 004

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