No Summer Vactation? Blasphemy!

As a future educator, providing the best education for future generations is extremely important to me. A lot of debate occurs as to what this “best” education looks like and how we can provide it, but one of the most highly debated topics is the suggestion of year-round education. Although there are many different models for what “year-round education” can look like, the basic premise is that students would have shorter breaks between their semesters, quarters, or terms instead of one long break in the summer; most of the debate among this decision revolves around the factors of academic achievement and economic reasoning.

Supporters of year-round education suggest that academic achievement in schools will go up if the school system is changed as retention and tutoring opportunities increase and absences decrease. According to these supporters, retention of information among students will increase as there is no longer a large gap in the presentation and practice of knowledge to students (“Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education”). Many believe that if shorter breaks are given in increments, this will prevent students from ignoring school work for long amounts of time, leading them to forget the information they have learned (Pearson).

Similarly, supporters of the year-round education system suggest that tutoring opportunities will increase if a more constant form of teaching is provided. According to the California Department of Education, students, particularly economically disadvantaged students, would be given more opportunities for tutors as less amounts of information would need to be covered over shorter periods of time (Pearson). The logic behind this idea is that because students will be retaining more information consistently and will have less time to forget that information, less tutoring time will be needed; this focalizes the time the tutor and the student spend together, resulting in less time and money needing to be spent.

Lastly, in regards to academic achievement, those who support year-round education believe absences among both students and teachers will decrease if short breaks are given in the school year. In the year-round system, students and teachers will be given consistent breaks, which supporters view as a system that will help prevent them from getting sick and burnt-out, as the long summer break tends to do (Pearson). With smaller breaks, students and teachers will also be able to constantly recharge during the school year, providing more enthusiasm and willingness to learn while they are in the classroom (“Research Spotlight”).

However, those who do not agree with the year-round education suggest that more negative than positive academic outcomes would come out of changing the school system. Those who do not support the year-round education system point out that there is no actual research supporting that year-round education would improve retention, and that, in fact, it may be hurting student’s education overall (Lynch). As summer break is a common time for teachers to prepare materials and lesson plans for the next school year, taking that time away from them could greatly alter the efficiency and effectiveness of what they are teaching. In a year-round calendar, teachers may not be given enough time to access the materials they need or be able to research different teaching methods that could greatly affect the way that they are teaching students (Brown).

As well, people who do not support year-round education believe that students who benefit from remedial and supplemental classes during summer school will not receive the support they need from the type of education that would be provided during year-round education. Yet, not only would these students be negatively impacted, but all students would be negatively impacted as students may struggle with focusing back to class time after ever short break is taken (Lynch).

Similar disagreements also take place regarding economic reasoning that would result from a change in the calendar years for schools. Supporters of the year-round system claim that two economic benefits will result from changing schools’ calendar systems: school facilities will be used more effectively year-round, and families who travel will ultimately spend less on vacations. When summer break occurs, that leaves an average of three months where school buildings are not being used and certain equipment pieces are not being maintained; this is seen as a waste of resources in year-round supporters’ eyes as the building is just sitting there and will likely need to have repairs done to its equipment when the schoolyear starts again (Pearson).

On the same note, those that agree with year-round education state that breaks in increments instead of one long break will prevent families from spending large amounts of money of vacations. With smaller breaks, families will still be able to vacation, but they will be less likely to stay as long or go as far, which, in turn, saves them money (Pearson).

On the contrary, those who are against year-round education suggest that the lack of a summer break will not only affect the employment of both students and their parents, but will also greatly affect the overall budget of the school. As summer is a common time for older students to seek out employment, sometimes even full-time employment, opponents of year-round education suggest that students will no longer be able to maintain this type of employment with shorter, more spread out breaks (Brown).

Scheduling is also pointed out by opponents of year-round education as influencing the income of parents. Parents of younger students will need to find childcare or take off of work more frequently if shorter breaks are given to students, leading them to lose a substantial amount of income no matter which choice they make (Brown).

Finally, those who oppose year-round education also point out the financial influence no longer having a summer break will have on a school’s overall budget. As not only power but air conditioning must be supplied for students in the summer, schools would likely expect a great increase in their school budget. As most schools cannot afford to change their budgets, money that would be set aside for things such as extracurricular or learning programs would have to be redirected to pay for these expenses, negatively impacting students’ educations (Lynch).

Although there are many arguments present for both sides of the year-round education argument, those both for and against the schooling system acknowledge that there is no conclusive evidence of the effect of changing the calendar year of schools on academic performance and financial decisions (“Research Spotlight”). With that being said, I believe that the current structure of schooling is the most affective for future generations. As it becomes more and more difficult to hold the attention of students as time goes on, I believe that constant break would cause difficultly in maintaining focus on teachings. As a student myself, I have personally witnessed and experienced the lack of focus and discipline students have right before a break and right after a break, which would be a constant in the year-round system.

As well, in regards to retention, information must be constantly studied, repeated, and made meaningful in order to be stored in long-term memory. Although I do agree that it would be helpful that no long break would be present for students to forget a majority of the information they learned, there is no guarantee that students will practice good studying and learning methods simply because they have had less time to forget.

Therefore, although proponents of the year-round education system suggest students, parents, and schools would benefit from more consistent breaks and less time to forget information and waste time, by analyzing academic and financial reasoning, I tend to agree more with those that advocate against the changing of school systems.

 

References:

Brown, Mary. “The Year-Round School Debate.” SchoolMoney, SchoolMoney, 5 Mar. 2016, www.schoolmoney.org/the-year-round-school-debate/.

Lynch, Matthew. “Year-Round Schooling: 3 Common Arguments Against It.” Education Week, Editorial Projects in Education, 3 Jan. 2015, blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_futures/2014/07/_year-round_schooling_3_common_arguments_against_it.html.

Pearson, Amy. “Year-Round School Advantages & Disadvantages.” Seattle PI, Hearst Seattle Media, 2017, education.seattlepi.com/yearround-school-advantages-disadvantages-2521.html.

“Research Spotlight on Year-Round Education.” National Education Association, National Education Association, 2017, http://www.nea.org/tools/17057.htm.


Psych Class or Buzzfeed? Both Have a Lot of Personality Quizzes.

As a very avid quiz-taker, it was not very surprising to see the results from the first three personality quizzes. For the Jung Typology Test, I was classified as an ENFJ, where I was measured as 6% Extravert, 50% Intuitive, 16% Feeling, and 38% Judging. Each of these categories show a moderate or slight preference towards one side, resulting in me being a helper and enabler who tends to forget my own needs in preference of focusing on others’.

Although it may then seem confusing as to why I would be classified as INFJ after taking the Junglan Personality Type Test, it is not confusing to me. Just as I was only classified as 6% of an extrovert, it is common for me to be borderline extrovert or introvert when I take these tests. This is very accurate to who I am as I often love being around other people, but sometimes I need to go back to my room to be alone and recharge. As INFJs still really enjoy helping others, the only differences between my classification from the first test and my classification from this test are that I can sometimes be excessively cooperative and agreeable, and I sometimes find it hard to dissociate from others, which are both very true for me.

Similarly, my results from the IPIP Big-Five Factor Markers Test showed that I was a 54 on the Extroversion scale, a 3 on the Emotional Stability scale, a 91 on the Agreeableness scale, a 52 on the Conscientiousness scale, and a 59 on the Intellect and Imagination scale. For this test, the closer you were to 50 meant the closer you were to being equally in between the two extremes. The results I got from this test are fairly accurate as they are mostly a summation of the results I got from the first two tests: I can be both introverted and extroverted, I have a very agreeable nature, and I try to be calculating, but sometimes emotions can get the best of me.

However, what did take me by surprise were the results of the color quiz I took on ColorQuiz.com. Looking at the quiz, I thought it was going to be a simple test that told you if you were happy, sad, or stressed at the moment, and that would be all. Instead, I felt as though the color quiz results attached my personality traits the most, and almost made me feel bad about myself afterwards. The results of the color quiz said that I crave freedom and independence, but cannot gain it because of the limitations a put on myself, and that is what is causing stress in my life. It also said that I give more than I get back and get easily offending, leading me to feeling isolated and alone, but at the same time I am afraid of forming deep and meaningful relationships.

Although I may not like to admit it, I do see validity in what the color quiz had to tell me. I think that the results for that quiz were so hard to except and took me by surprise as that was the only quiz that really focused on the negative factors of my personality. All of the other personality quizzes took my results together as a whole and created some positive description out of them, but the quiz on colors pointed out all the stressors, problems, and restrained characteristics I have in life. The quiz must have been right though, because I did take the results of the test pretty personally and was offended for a period of time.

As for the credibility for each test, I believe that it is hard to say. The IPIP Big-Five Factor Markers Test did seem the most reliable as it included sources and references to actual psychological studies and defined some procedures and terms; however, the flaw in that test was that there were not a lot of explanations as to what the results meant or how the results came to be. In fact, none of the four personality tests described the process to how they established your personality type at the end of the test. If each of these quizzes wanted to gain more credibility, they should thoroughly explain the information from their analysis and explain the process of how they defined and calculated the personality results they provided.


The Debate on Video Games and Violence

The debate over violent video games is a very difficult topic for me to make up my mind over. As an adamant lover of video games, I know that I have a bias opinion when it comes to censorship of violence in games. To me, blaming violence in children on the video games they play is not a fair statement. Although I do agree that children being exposed to violence in video games on a daily basis would be harmful, simply turning on the news every night would supply children with the same amount of violence in real life. Just as banning the news would be an unrealistic notion, the same can be said of completely banning all violence from video games.

As well, as an effort to prevent young children from witnessing extreme violence and gore, video game creators put specific ratings on their products in order to prepare the audience for the content they will be seeing. In fact, many of the more violent video games have specific ratings that do not allow children under a certain age to purchase the games themselves. Therefore, if a child who is younger than the recommended age range for a video game does acquire that game, it is likely that the parents supplied it to the child, which would not be the fault of the video gaming industry.

Overall, I believe that any regular exposure to something can be habitual-forming. I do agree that exposure to violence and gore in video games should be monitored by parents, as too much exposure can cause children to become influenced by the actions they are seeing; however, to make the claim that violence in video games is what is causing violence in children and that it should, therefore, be banned is unrealistic.


Stress? What Do I Look Like, a College Student?

Stress is something that I have been dealing with for a long portion of my life. As both a procrastinator and a perfectionist, I find myself stressing about multiple things throughout my day that other people would not find very stressful. In order to cope with this stress, I have adapted three different tactics to use in order to try to calm myself down.

The first tactic I use, which I probably use the most often, is watching videos. It is a common action for me to take a break from doing multiple assignments or writing a paper in order to watch one or two videos on YouTube from some of my favorite content creators. The videos that I usually watch will make me laugh and smile a lot, distracting me from the stress that I was feeling earlier.

Although watching videos does successfully help me feel less stressed for a certain amount of time, the stress ultimately comes back when I begin that task I took a break from again. In fact, my stress level may rise by the time I am done watching videos, as one to two videos can turn into multiple, causing me to procrastinate on the work that I need to be getting done.

The second tactic I use to cope with stress is listening to music. Similar to watching videos, when I listen to music I am able to get distracted by the lyrics and beats, allowing me to forget about the stress I was feeling earlier. However, just as ignoring the problem and watching videos can sometimes lead to more stress later on, listening to music can sometimes carry on too long, causing me to complete my work at later times than I should be.

The last tactic I use to cope with stress is writing. I keep a specific journal that I write in every day, which has a positive quote on one page, a few blank lines on the other page, and four check boxes that have different emotions for what I may be feeling that day. Writing in this journal helps me cope a lot as I can get the multiple thoughts that swirl around in my head when I am stressed out and onto paper. By doing this, I seem to somewhat clear my head of all my overwhelming thoughts, making me feel less stressed and more level-headed. This is probably my most successful tactic in dealing with stress, as I also tend to do this writing right before I go to sleep, meaning that it would not cause me to procrastinate on any assignments I need to get done.

As for other stress management activities that I should be doing, realistically, I should be trying to fit more sleep and exercise into my daily routines. If I got more sleep and exercise, I would likely be more alert and release more endorphins, which would help me feel more productive and efficient in doing school assignments, rather than tired and stressed.


Why Does Your Face Look Like That?

Interpreting facial expressions is a lot harder than I expected. I thought that I was fairly decent at being able to interpret other’s emotions from their facial expressions, but after completing the emotional intelligence quiz from UC Berkley, I am unsure. I ended up getting a score of 15 out of 20 when I took the quiz, which is not a terrible score, but I expected to only get one or two wrong when completing it, not five.

The reason I believe that I got more questions wrong than I thought I would is because I found the more negative emotions, such as embarrassment, pain, and fear more difficult to distinguish between than some of the more positive emotions, such as happiness, love, and desire. It seemed more difficult for me to distinguish between all of the negative emotions as I feel like most them are expressed in similar situations. For example, one of the very first faces I identified wrong was fear. I had said that the face the person was making was embarrassment, as it seemed like the taunt mouth and big eyes were expressing a type of awkwardness I would feel if I was embarrassed. In this situation, I related the facial expression to one that I would make; however, I neglected to realize that I personally connect fear and embarrassment on a deeper level. I fear being in embarrassing situations, so it makes sense as to why I would make a face that expresses fear when I am really trying to express embarrassment. As for the more positive emotions, I do not connect them as deeply to each other, as I do not see happiness, flirtatiousness, and desire as the same type of facial expressions.

Although I did fail to predict how many questions I would get right on the quiz, I do feel as though it is somewhat reliable. The Science Center at UC Berkeley is a fairly credible source and each of the pictures is backed with a scientific explanation as to why the correct answer is correct.

I also found the emotional intelligence quiz to be fairly affective in teaching me some information I can use in daily life. Now that I know certain muscle tendencies for each type of emotion, I will be able to more clearly identify these emotions while having face-to-face discussions with people in real life. If I am able to more clearly understand the emotions of the people I am talking to, I will be able to communicate more clearly with them and have more control over social situations. I am glad that I took the quiz!


Wait…Sleep is a Thing?

Ever since I was in middle school, I have had a terrible sleep schedule. In middle school, I went from getting the standard eight hours of sleep to getting about six hours of sleep per night. I would go to sleep at around midnight and I would wake up at six in the morning to get ready for school.

Although the standard of six hours per night seemed to work for me then, the hours I got to sleep per night decreased even more when I moved onto high school. In high school, I went from getting six hours of sleep per night to alternating between four to five hours per night. I was stilling getting up at six in the morning; however, I was finding it harder to go to sleep at midnight due to assignments I would stay up doing. The tactic of going to sleep and finishing the assignment the next day when I woke up did not work for me, as the anxiety I had over not completing the assignments I needed to would keep me up anyway.

This trend has only seemed to increase and worsen as I have started my college career. I have messed up my sleeping schedule so badly that the most sleep I am getting is four hours per night, and the least amount I have been able to run on is about one and a half hours per night. This lack of sleep is mostly due to the amount of essays and assignments I receive as an English Education major. Even when I may not have many assignments due on a specific night, I still will not be able to go to sleep earlier as I have now conditioned myself to staying up into the early hours of the morning.

Sleeping anywhere from one and a half hours to four hours per night is clearly not a healthy habit that I have. I believe that most of the memory problems I find myself having can be largely attributed to my lack of sleep, as I am not allowing enough time for things to be stored in my long-term memory in my sleep cycle. I believe my lack of sleep is also affecting my ability to focus in my classes, as I find myself struggling to pay attention to my professors on the days I only have one and a half hours of sleep; this is clearly an issue that I should attempt to fix quickly, before it majorly begins to affect my academic performance.

Realistically, I believe that as a college student, a realistic goal for sleep per night is five to six hours. Although eight hours would seem ideal, I do not believe that juggling my job, school work, and my social life would allow me to get that many hours. In order to improve my sleeping habits and attempt to get those five to six hours of sleep every night, I need to make more of a conscious effort to not procrastinate and refrain from using technology and doing other distracting tasks at least a half an hour before I plan to go to bed. I think it would also be beneficial if I set more of a standard time to go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning, rather than going to sleep and waking up at different times every day.


The Divorce Debate

The topic of divorce is a heavily debated topic in today’s society as the rate of divorce has become much more prevalent over the years. Specifically, one of the most controversial points of the divorce debate it the effect it has on children and their future life choices. Some suggest that children develop internalizing, externalizing, and cognitive functioning problems due to the effects of divorce on the young brain, while others suggest that divorce can actually lead to more positive romantic experiences for children later on. But who is right?

According to Daniel S. Shaw, a doctor and psychology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and Erin M. Ingoldsby, a senior research associate at James Bell Associates, many research designs have been done to support the idea that divorce negatively affects a child’s ability to internalize problems, externalize problems, and thrive academically. Shaw and Ingoldsby state that according to the National Survey of Children, children who experienced a divorce between their parents were less likely to be able to externalize their problems in a healthy manner, and were more like to misbehave and show aggression. The data they provided behind this was a longitudinal, observational study in which 1,423 children across the nation were observed behavior-wise at the ages of 7-11, 12-16, and 18-22. These children were randomly selected, and were a mixture of having parents happily together, parents already divorced, and parents who got divorced at some point during the study. Although most parents stayed married, the overall evidence for children of divorced parents showed the majority acting out and showing aggression towards teachers, parents, and significant others at all three age ranges (Shaw).

As well, Shaw and Ingoldsby suggest that children who experience parental divorce are likely to internalize their problems in an unhealthy manner. Although Shaw and Ingoldbsy suggest that much less research and support is shown for internalizing problems than externalizing problems, they do state that recently, according to the National Children Survey, there has been an “increase of self-reported distress and depression at ages 12-16 and 18-22 among children from divorced families” (Shaw).

To support this claim, a longitudinal study of child development was done on the participants in the Child Development Project, which consisted of 356 different families that registered to take part in the study while registering their children for kindergarten. For children who both had divorced parents and did not, their behavior was monitored by teachers and parents by filling out a Child Behavior Checklist. The data that was collected shows that not only did children with divorced parents experience much more signs of depression and anxiety than other children, but they also found that the earlier the divorce happened in child, the more likely the child is to unhealthily internalize his or her problems (Lansford).

Lastly, both an observational study explained by Shaw and Ingoldbsy and the study done on the participants of the Child Development Project suggest that children who experience the effects of divorce will be negatively affected in the areas of academics. Shaw and Ingoldbsy state that in an observational study of 699 children from 38 different states, “children from single-parent, divorced families showed deficits in IQ scores, ranging between 1 and 7 points, lower grades in history and math, school achievement scores averaging less than one year in school, and were more likely to repeat a grade” (Shaw). Similarly, an observational study conducted on the participants of the Child Development Project during the observational study of internalizing problems measured the grades in mathematics and language arts of students that experienced divorce in their families, and those that did not. A similar result to the one Shaw and Ingoldbsy suggested was found as students who had divorced parents showed a consistent decease in both mathematics and language arts as they progressed in the school system (Landsford).

On the contrary, some would suggest that divorce has more of a chance to positively affect children than negatively affect children. Although these people do acknowledge the idea that there will be negative effects on children from divorce, they suggest that these effects can be dealt with by early intervention, and will end up positively affecting these children later on in their romantic lives.

For example, in an observational study done by Grant W. Mohi at the University of Central Florida, Mohi found that many people who experienced divorce as a child grew up to maintain relationships for a longer period and be more open and communitive with spouses and children. The study was done by providing 233 different college students, 67 men and 166 women, from both divorced and intact families with a survey regarding their personal relationship trends. 10 face-to-face interviews were also conducted with students from divorced families to further support the data. The most common qualitative data Mohi collected was that students strived to do a better job in their relationships than their parents did; therefore it made them more open and committed to their spouses and families (Mohi).

A similar idea of positive effects on children who experienced parental divorce is supported in a study done by Paul R. Amato in his Journal of Marriage and Family. Sarah-Marie Hopf, who references Amato’s study in the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science, describes Amato’s meta-analysis of 63 studies relating to divorced parents and their children. Hopf describes that Amato suggests a sense of resilience in children from what he observed (Amato). What is meant here is that children from divorced parents were not only likely to try to improve their own personal relationships due to what they observed from their parents, but 75-80 percent of those children were shown to grow up to achieve their education, career, and relationship goals later on in life (Hopf).

As both sides make compelling arguments about the effects of divorce on children and continually back their support with qualitative and quantitative data from multiple different studies, it is clear to see why the influences of parental divorce on children is such a heavily debated topic in today’s society.

 

References:

Amato, Paul R, and Joan G Gilbreth. “Nonresident Fathers and Children’s Well-Being: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Marriage and Family, National Council on Family Relations, Aug. 1999, www.jstor.org/stable/353560?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.

Hopf, Sarah Marie. “Risk and Resilience in Children Coping with Parental Divorce.”DUJS Online, Dartmouth College, 31 Oct. 2013, dujs.dartmouth.edu/2010/05/risk-and-resilience-in-children-coping-with-parental-divorce/#.WduKCmhSzIU.

Lansford, Jennifer E., et al. “Trajectories of Internalizing, Externalizing, and Grades for Children Who Have and Have Not Experienced Their Parents’ Divorce or Separation.” Journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 20 June 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2750031/.

Mohi, Grant W. “Positive Outcomes of Divorce: A Multi-Method Study on the Effects of Parental Divorce on Children.” The University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal, vol. 7.2, 22 Sept. 2015, urj.ucf.edu/docs/mohi.pdf.

Shaw, Daniel S, and Erin M Ingoldsby. “Chirldren of Divorce.” Children of Divorce, The University of Pittsburgh, www.pitt.edu/ppcl/Publications/chapters/children_of_divorce.htm.


“I Wish My Parents Were Like That!”

The statement “I wish my parents were like that!” seems to be a familiar statement to most generations of children. Every child wishes that they could have a cool parent who lets them stay up late at night and eat sugary snacks whenever they want, but is that really the best way to raise a happy and healthy child?

In my eyes, I believe that the “best” way to parent a child is to maintain a supportive balance of being strict, but also lenient. Growing up with fairly strict parents, especially my father who was not raised in America, I did sometimes wish that my parents would let me do more things on my own or spend more time with my friends; however I still realize the importance of the strict treatment I received.

Due to the fact that my parents were strict, I developed a heavy sense of responsibility very early on in life. I knew the expectations that my parents held and pushed myself to meet them by making sure that I did my chores when asked, completed the schoolwork that I was supposed to, and did not do anything that would likely get me in trouble. I believe that in this sense, being strict with a child would allow them to develop this same sense of responsibility and gain the knowledge that in the “real world,” you cannot just do whatever you want whenever you want.

Nevertheless, I believe that it is also important to balance strict parenting with a sense of leniency. I commonly feel that I am not as independent as I could have been due to my constant need of permission from my parents that I had as a child. Independence plays an important role in decision making and problem solving, causing it to be a crucial trait for children to have. In order to instill this sense of independence in children, I believe that parents should still have rules set for their children, but allow them to make some decisions on their own, whether they are right or wrong.

But overall, whether a parent is strict, lenient, or balances both of these traits, it is most important that a parent is supportive of his or her child during growth. Showing your child any type of support during their early years will help them establish a healthy form of self-confidence that will benefit them later in life. For example, this type of support can be shown by using encouraging words with a child if he or she wants to give up on a task, or by praising a child for completing a task that he or she may have had difficulty completing. No matter what form the support may come in, I believe that it will ensure that the child will grow up to be happy, healthy, and a productive member of society.


Coke vs. Pepsi Taste Test Experiment

What were the strengths of the research design?

One of the strongest parts of the research design for the Coke vs. Pepsi experiment was the random assignment of the independent variable. The independent variable in this case was if the taste tester received Coke or Pepsi in each of their five cups, as this was able to be manipulated by the Fluid Dispensing Engineer. The random assignment of Coke or Pepsi in each of the cups was done by flipping coin and pouring the corresponding drink for when it was heads or tails. Due to this process, whether Coke or Pepsi was in each of the cups can also be referred to as a true independent variable, due to its ability to be randomly assigned, which lessens the chance of a confounding variable being present.

Another strength of the research design was the prevention of bias as a confounding factor by keeping the Fluid Dispensing and Randomization Team separate from the Data, Logistics, and Analyst Team. The separation of these two groups was crucial as it prevented the Fluid Dispensing and Randomization Team from making any faces or saying any comments that would influence the Executive Soda Analyst while he or she tasted each drink, which would result in a confounding variable.

What were the limitations of the research design?

Two of the limitations that stood out in the research design were that there was neither a random sampling, nor a random assignment in regards to the person who held the position of Executive Soda Analyst.

There was a lack of random sampling in regards to the Coke vs. Pepsi research design as people who drank the drinks were only chosen from Dr. MacFarlane’s General Psychology class that occurs at 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Due to this fact, the results of the experiment cannot be generalized to the entire population of soda drinkers, as one class cannot be representative of the “people” addressed in the research question.

As well, there was a lack of random assignment in regards to the Coke vs. Pepsi research design as the Executive Soda Analysts were chosen by volunteer. Dr. MacFarlane asked those who believed very strongly that they could tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi to raise their hands, and proceeded to pick those people to be the taste testers. These was not an effective way to assign students to that role as confounding variables could then influence the experiment and provide invalid results. The question for the experiment was “can people tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi,” not “can people who think they can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi actually tell?”

What potential confounding variables were present in the study?

Potential confounding variables in the study could have been the amount of time it had been since the Executive Soda Analyst drank a Coke or Pepsi, the temperature of the soda, and the confidence level of the Executive Soda Analyst.

The amount of time it had been since the Executive Soda Analyst drank a Coke or a Pepsi can be considered a confounding variable as the taste tester who has not had Coke or Pepsi over a long period of time would struggle much more between the choose of both soda than a person who drink Coke, Pepsi, or both often.

The temperature of the soda can be considered a confounding variable as most people do not drink soda warm. The taste testers may know the taste of cold Coke or Pepsi better, and could therefore identify each drink easier than they did when it was warm, as it may have tasted different.

Lastly, the confidence level of the Soda Analyst can be seen as a confounding variable. Dr. MacFarlane chose only those that felt he most confident in their abilities to tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, meaning that each of the tester may have made snap judgement due to their over confidence.

Was the conclusion we drew valid? Why or why not?

The conclusion we drew was not valid due to the limitations and confounding variables of the research design. Due to the lack of random sampling, none of this information can be generalized to a bigger population. As well, due to the presence of so many confounding variables, there would not be a high level of confidence in the results of the experiment.

What are 5 specific changes you would make to the research design to improve the study?

  1. Refrigerate each of the sodas so that they are cold for when the taste testers are drinking them.
  2. Take a random sample from the entire campus population and not just one psychology class.
  3. Randomly assign who will be a taste tester using a random number generator.
  4. Give the taste tester a palate cleanser after each drink.
  5. Have more than five trials.

Is Yawning Contagious? The MythBusters Seem To Think So.

As the name may suggest, the MythBusters are a group of people who perform a variety of televised experiments to prove whether widely known statements are true from a scientific viewpoint, or whether they are not. In an episode that I have just recently watched, the MythBusters were testing whether yawning is contagious or not.

To test this theory, the MythBusters created a pop-up structure in public that consisted of three identical rooms. As the test subjects, who believed that they would be waiting for an audition, were ushered in their rooms, one of the MythBusters would yawn in front of two of them, and then shut the door. The third test subject would not be yawned in front of, as he or she would be considered the control. They did this for fifty different people and recorded their results.

From this experiment the MythBusters concluded that yawning is contagious, as there was a four percent difference in yawning that happened between those that received the stimulus and those that did not. However, I would like to disagree. I believe that there were many confounding variables that influenced the MythBusters’ experiment.

This is not to say that the MythBusters did not have many strongpoints in their experiment. Their sample size was large, which lowers the chances of bias. They isolated each of the test subjects, meaning that one subject could not influence another subject in any way. They did not inform the test subjects about the experiment being performed, therefore the subjects were not thinking about yawning and influencing the experiment in that retrospect. And the MythBusters had a control in which they could compare the results of the other two subjects with.

Nevertheless, there seemed to be some confounding variables that the MythBusters did not take into account. The two most notable for me were that each of the subjects may have had a differing amount of sleep the night before, as well as that each of the subjects may have been having a reaction to the room, and not to the MythBuster yawning.

The amount of sleep each of the subjects had the night before can be considered a confounding variable as the less sleep one subject got, the more prone to yawning they are likely to be. In order to eliminate this variable, the MythBusters should have either recorded an average amount of sleep that each person got the night before to reference later, or split up each of the subjects in to categories based on their hours of sleep.

As well, the issue of the color and décor of the room could be a confounding variable. Different colors and amounts of space are known to influence the brain and its attentiveness. A plain white room may have caused many of the subjects to become bored or tired, which would explain why they eventually yawned while waiting. To correct this confounding variable, I would suggest that the MythBusters have rooms set up with different colors and decorations, and then some that have nothing at all, in order to compare the amount of yawns that happen in each.

I would be very interested to see the results of the MythBusters’ experiment if they took my suggestions into account. I feel as though they would come to a very different conclusion than the one they did during their test.