Center for Social Research

Social Sciences Lunch Seminar Series - Fall 2013

Each year, the social science departments invite a selection of expert speakers to give an informational presentation about a topic in their field. This year’s speakers for the fall semester are:

Session Title
October 18th
The Spread of New Illegal
Practices Among Management Elite.
November 1st
Political Science
(Vanderbilt University)
Building Effective Models
for Social Science Research.
November 15th
Outcomes Among Children Adopted
Internationally at School-Age.

Each talk will begin at 12:30p in the Alumni Association Board Room.  Professor Steve McMullen will distribute lunch tickets before the conversation begins.  Each talk will end with enough time to get to 1:30p classes.

We hope to see you there!

Posted by Michael Kelly on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 03:04 PM
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Now in development: the 2014 Kent County Deliberative Poll


Civic-minded friends, watch this space for news about our newest initiative, the Kent County Deliberative Poll®, inspired by and intended for local implementation in cooperation with James Fishkin and the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University.

Please extend a warm welcome to Project Coordinator Allison Rudi, who will be contacting a broad coalition of community partners and research organizations (including you) to advise, sponsor, conduct and benefit from this combined research and civic education project. This fall, we’ll be working on coalition-building, branding and design, fundraising, research design, project planning and budgeting, development of unbiased reading materials, recruitment of expert deliberative-democracy moderators, student involvement, and more.

Questions? Want to get in on the ground floor? Contact Allison by email or call CSR at 616 526-8934.

Posted by Neil Carlson on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 10:33 AM
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Final CSR Summer Training Opportunities

CSR is closing up another year of summer training for our staff and students. As with last year, these training sessions have been and will continue to be open to Calvin faculty, staff, and students, as well as some of our clients.

With a only a few sessions left, consider attending if any would be a good resource for you or your department. All training sessions will be from 1pm-4:30pm in North Hall 180.

Please click on any of the sessions you are interested in attending, and you will be taken to the corresponding Eventbrite page.

Thursday 8/15Tableau II
Thursday 8/22Qualitative data collection
Tuesday 8/27Quickbase
Posted by Traci Montgomery on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 03:36 PM
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Research Tip: Designing Surveys Using Tables

Survey design is an integral part of our work here at the CSR. From the programs we evaluate to the research we conduct, the survey is still one of the leading measurement tools used for social research.  While surveys have undergone serious electronic transformation with the introduction and increasing capabilities of various software programs, paper surveys are still in high demand from our clients.

Because of the high quantity of paper surveys that we design, the CSR is constantly looking for ways to improve them for our clients. One survey design trick that consistently benefits us is putting the entire survey into a (partially) invisible table.

Why do we put our surveys into tables?

Tables are typically seen as data displaying devices, because this is the reason that researchers typically need them. However, tables become more useful when their function is understood as displaying information in a visually organized and understandable way. Researchers aim for this same organization and clarity in their surveys. Tables can create a clean, uniform survey layout while concurrently grouping similar survey elements together for greater comprehensibility.

How we put surveys into tables:

To put a survey into a table, we start by creating the table at the beginning of the survey building process. The amount of rows and columns can always be adjusted at any time to fit the contents of the survey. Then, we input all of our survey information.

Once complete, we decide which borders are helpful in creating an organized, understandable layout.

While putting a survey into tables may not be best way to design every survey, tables are a useful design tool for researchers to have at their disposal. Not only do surveys with unstructured layouts look clumsy, but they can also cause participants to answer questions inaccurately, creating validity problems within the research experiment. Therefore, to execute the best survey research possible, we at the CSR endorse the use of tables.

Posted by Michael Kelly on Monday, August 05, 2013 at 04:44 PM
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A CSR “So Long” to Three of our Valued Researchers

March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.
-Khalil Gibran

As we near the end of summer, CSR must say goodbye to three of our employees as they say goodbye to Calvin College and embark onto exciting, unknown territories.  Today we recognize Tom Sherwood, Zig Ingraffia, and Dan Molling, thanking them for their contributions to CSR and wishing them the best of luck in their new endeavors.

The first to leave CSR this summer was senior student research assistant Dan Molling. During his two years with us, Dan particularly enjoyed working on projects with Professor Jonathan Hill of the Sociology Department as well as projects with the CRCNA. After working two full years at CSR, Dan was offered a position as a Research Associate with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Missouri. Dan accepted the position and is currently working with urban economist Jordan Rappaport, assisting him in a variety of policy work. In the future, Dan plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Economics, then either continue working for the Federal Reserve, work for an international institution like the International Monetary Fund or World Bank, or become a professor.

Four-year employee Zig Ingraffia, who worked as both a student research assistant and a research specialist, also leaves CSR this summer. He has been our lead researcher evaluating various programs for the Believe 2 Become and Gatherings of Hope Initiatives, both funded by the DeVos Foundation. Zig leaves CSR to attend graduate school at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio to pursue a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, focusing on social research. He will be researching with Dr. Keith Markman studying social judgment and behavioral decision making with further specialization in counterfactual thinking and debiasing. After that, Zig hopes to pursue further careers in academia, desiring that no matter what he is involved in, it will always involve learning.

Finally, Tom Sherwood, research associate and fearless leader to our student research assistants, is also moving on from CSR this summer. Because of his supervisory role, Tom has been involved in an abundant number of projects during his time here. He also played an integral role in bringing the survey design software system Qualtrics to CSR. Tom ventures next to the University of Michigan to obtain a Master of Public Health degree, focusing on health management and policy. After this, Tom plans to seek a career with NGOs that focus on global health issues, hopefully working with technology.

The combined effort that these three individuals have contributed to CSR during their time here is—dare we say
it—immeasurable. We thank them for their loyalty, we admire their abilities, we will miss their geniality, and we will, albeit impatiently, wait for their updates and visits. They have accepted their charges, and now we salute them as they continue forward to their indubitable victories.

Posted by Michael Kelly on Monday, July 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM
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