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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default College Study up for Grabs

    I recently had an idea for a study to do at my University, but it would fall way outside of my major. Therefore, I throw it up for grabs so someone else can try it.
    Our dining hall uses reusable cups, and students put the cup on a conveyor belt once they are finished so it can be washed. But when the dining hall is overcrowded, too many cups go back to the dishwasher and there are none left for people to use. When that happens, the dining hall staff put out disposable plastic cups for people to use. After a few minutes, a batch of reusable cups comes out of the washing machine and they are put out alongside the disposable cups. Now students have a choice; reusable or disposable? The two cups are sitting side by side, and it is entirely up to the students which cup they choose. From my own observation, I have noticed that students choose disposable cups significantly more often than they choose reusable. I think it would be an interesting study to put out disposable and reusable cups side by side and observe how many students choose one or the other, and then find out what made the students make the choice that they did.
    Like I said, this is up for grabs, so if you think your professor would give you extra credit for doing this, go for it.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: College Study up for Grabs

    Quote Originally Posted by Samwich View Post
    I recently had an idea for a study to do at my University, but it would fall way outside of my major. Therefore, I throw it up for grabs so someone else can try it.
    Our dining hall uses reusable cups, and students put the cup on a conveyor belt once they are finished so it can be washed. But when the dining hall is overcrowded, too many cups go back to the dishwasher and there are none left for people to use. When that happens, the dining hall staff put out disposable plastic cups for people to use. After a few minutes, a batch of reusable cups comes out of the washing machine and they are put out alongside the disposable cups. Now students have a choice; reusable or disposable? The two cups are sitting side by side, and it is entirely up to the students which cup they choose. From my own observation, I have noticed that students choose disposable cups significantly more often than they choose reusable. I think it would be an interesting study to put out disposable and reusable cups side by side and observe how many students choose one or the other, and then find out what made the students make the choice that they did.
    Like I said, this is up for grabs, so if you think your professor would give you extra credit for doing this, go for it.
    You should keep the idea for yourself. There are a decent number of sustainability/environmentalism-focused, reasonably reputable journals that would publish a relatively simple study like this if they thought it yielded interesting insights. Alternatively, you can look for a professor in an appropriate major (anything from applied math to economics or even food science/hospitality studies if your school has it) would be willing to advise/mentor you for a fairly low-cost study. Showing you did research as an undergrad is a big plus on the resume/grad school application, and even if you don't get published outside of your university, many schools have events showcasing undergraduate research where you can do your poster presentation or submit a paper.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: College Study up for Grabs

    Sometimes, when I'm doing battle with an article that can't be more that 5500 words but still has to contain the gist of hundreds of gigabytes of data and both use and explain more complex terms than your average dictionary, I'm a little jealous of studies where the students can just count cups.

    I only get more jealous when I remember those fields actually get important things done that way.
    The Hindsight Awards, results: See the best movies of 1999!

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: College Study up for Grabs

    Speaking as a statistical researcher, I see no purpose to the study.

    We measure things (or measure samples and estimate things for a population), not merely to answer a question, but to answer a question that has some purpose.

    What meaningful phenomenon are you trying to understand, that can be better understood by knowing how many people choose which cup?

    In business classes, I teach that you do research only because you have a decision to make. A restaurant might measure how many people prefer mustard to mayonnaise on hamburgers to decide how much mayonnaise to order.

    Pure research is not quite that straightforward, but there still needs to be a clear purpose to the study. There are in infinite number of things we could count. Why should we count these cups rather than something else? What good will it do?

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: College Study up for Grabs

    Compare it to polls about how often people make choices based on how they effect the environment to find a standard for the level of denial they are about their participation in environmental destruction?
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    druid91's Avatar

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    Default Re: College Study up for Grabs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Speaking as a statistical researcher, I see no purpose to the study.

    We measure things (or measure samples and estimate things for a population), not merely to answer a question, but to answer a question that has some purpose.

    What meaningful phenomenon are you trying to understand, that can be better understood by knowing how many people choose which cup?

    In business classes, I teach that you do research only because you have a decision to make. A restaurant might measure how many people prefer mustard to mayonnaise on hamburgers to decide how much mayonnaise to order.

    Pure research is not quite that straightforward, but there still needs to be a clear purpose to the study. There are in infinite number of things we could count. Why should we count these cups rather than something else? What good will it do?

    In this case I would say the question is to measure how readily a given population will resort to disposable cups. If you're trying to be environmentally conscious, then it helps you to know just how much of a cultural inertia you're fighting.

    If you're not, then it could help you to decide whether to switch over to disposables entirely rather than wasting time, money, and effort washing reusable cups.
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    I like the "hobo" in there.
    "Hey, you just got 10000gp! You going to buy a fully staffed mansion or something?"
    "Nah, I'll upgrade my +2 sword to a +3 sword and sleep in my cloak."

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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
     
    J-H's Avatar

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    Default Re: College Study up for Grabs

    You'll have to account for confounding factors. Things like:
    • The students pick up whatever's at the end of the conveyor (disposables first).
    • The reusable cups come out still damp from the washing process (people don't want a cup that's wet on the outside).
    • The cups hold different amounts.
    • The cups handle temperatures (warm/cold) differently.


    Any one of these could easily account for the difference.

    I know I always avoided the wet trays and cups.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: College Study up for Grabs

    Quote Originally Posted by druid91 View Post
    In this case I would say the question is to measure how readily a given population will resort to disposable cups. If you're trying to be environmentally conscious, then it helps you to know just how much of a cultural inertia you're fighting.

    If you're not, then it could help you to decide whether to switch over to disposables entirely rather than wasting time, money, and effort washing reusable cups.
    Given the subject matter in general, I would say we're still at a point quantifying certain behaviors and validating that they even occur non-negligibly often is often a worthwhile task in general. I vaguely recall once reading studies correlating trash can frequency (or complete lack of them) and rates of literally. These studies didn't exist in a vacuum--IIRC, the abstract/intros specifically stated that the studies were in response to folks arguing that people who cared about littering wouldn't mind carrying their trash all the way out of the park, while people who littered would do so even if the nearest trash can was 20 meters away.

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