We have all filled out surveys before, whether it was through the infamous SurveyMonkey or on a paper survey. Yet, many of us don’t stop to think about where this information might be going. Who uses the data and for what? What role could you have just played in a peer’s life? Did your answers to the questions just change the course of their research? These very valid questions can be answered by attending the Social Research Conference where you will find the results of all the surveys you have taken both in and out of class.
Thursday, April 12, Elizabethtown College will host the 32nd annual Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference from 9:45 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. This conference allows undergraduate students in the Northeast region the opportunity to report the results of their research projects. All faculty and students are welcome to attend this event at no cost. The College will provide lunch for all guests of the event. Presentations will reflect topics with which everyone can relate. It’s a great opportunity to learn about sociological concepts and different cultural ideas occurring in the world.
These presentations use real data from different organizations to support their research and theories. Students then test the data to provide information regarding their particular topic. The final result is the presentation of their research. Students taking the sociology and statistics class are to present their yearlong research as a final requirement. These students spend two semesters preparing, planning and understanding their research and data to prepare for this exciting day when they get to share their findings.
Anyone interested in presenting research at the event was required to submit a title and abstract of their research to Dr. Conrad Kanagy, associate prof. of sociology, by last Friday, March 23. Open to all students, the conference usually lends itself better to upperclassmen. The abstract was to be no longer then 150 words and was reviewed by Kanagy for entry into the conference. Students will present with other students from local schools, such as Temple University, Villanova University, Lebanon Valley College and Hood University. In 2003, the event was held at Messiah College and boasted nearly 200 students from seventeen schools.
Students work with data previously collected to determine the results of their research topic. “Many of the students will come with research they have done, data they have collected or databases they have used,” Kanagy said. Both empirical and theoretical research will be presented through the students’ presentations.
“Empirical data is data gathered with our senses,” Kanagy said. “Theoretical is simply about ideas related to some sociological phenomenon.” Both types of research will be accepted at the event. Kanagy estimates that at least 100 students will turn out to present their research in front of an audience. Topics will span a variety of genres including media, education and many of the social sciences. One example of a research topic is Facebook’s use and its effect on relationships.
Although Kanagy’s class is required to present at the conference, one student, junior Suzanne Laucks, said she would have presented her hard work anyway. Laucks focused her study on the effect of religious upbringing, affiliation, college degrees and marriage on church attendance. “I thought it was interesting to look at what affects church attendance,” Laucks said. A junior sociology/anthropology and pre-law major at Etown, she is on the planning committee for the conference and helped organize and communicate with participating students and faculty. “I’ve been modifying my data to fit my own questions and then running them through the computer,” Laucks said. In the social sciences department, students use computer programs to help them pore over the mass amounts of data, which they use to support their research.
The conference was created as a forum for students to report on their research projects. In the fall of 1980, the idea for such a conference started during a telephone conversation between Dr. Donald B. Kraybill, senior fellow at the Young Center and Gettysburg College professor, Dr. Donald Hinrichs. Kraybill agreed to host the first conference at Etown during the spring of 1981. The second was hosted by Gettysburg the following spring.
Each year the conference operates off the fundsing of the host. The host school also advertises and organizes the event. The conference owes its ongoing success to the hard work of faculty and students of schools in the region.