As the semester crawls to a close, tests and final projects have been steadily piling up. Among those dealing with a mounting workload is Joshua Ellow, who has been kept busy by the final project assigned for Professor Suzanne Thornton’s Stat 011: Statistical Methods I class. To successfully complete the project, students must collect data through an online form which they then analyze using statistical methods learned throughout the semester.
“I’ve really been enjoying this class so far,” said Ellow, “and I’d been looking forward to finally applying everything I’ve learned in a practical setting like this.”
Though Ellow was excited about the freedom afforded by this project, he had trouble thinking of which topic he wanted to pursue.
“I’m curious about a lot of things so I didn’t know what to do my survey about,” Ellow said. After much deliberation, Ellow decided on the perfect topic for his project.
“I’m really interested in how students interact with alcohol and other drugs, and in helping students develop healthy relationships with these substances,” said Ellow. “In fact, I’m actually the Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor and Educator at Swarthmore College. So this topic was a natural choice for me.”
Having finally nailed down the perfect topic, Ellow got to work creating a survey for his project. The final version of his survey included questions about frequency of alcohol and other drug use, familiarity with alcohol and other drugs, and general thoughts and experiences concerning drinking and ingesting drugs. With this many variables to play around with, Ellow knew that he would have a lot of options for analyzing his data.
“Designing the survey was the easy part,” said Ellow. “After that was done, I had to do the hard part of actually getting people to take it.”
Like other students in Stat 011, Ellow struggled at first with getting enough responses on the survey. Too few responses and he would not be able to derive statistically meaningful conclusions from such a small sample size, which would not bode well for his final grade in the class.
“I sent an email to every student on campus asking them to take the survey,” said Ellow. “Other people in the class didn’t have that ability; all they could do was post it on Facebook and promise a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner or something. So I definitely had an edge there,” he said.
In addition to sending out an all-school email, Ellow also printed out little table-top signs with a QR code for the survey, which he placed on tables in Sharples.
“Sharples is a high-traffic area, so I figured people sitting at meals would naturally be inclined to scan the code and fill out the survey,” he said.
Ellow’s efforts paid off tremendously — he got the most responses to his survey out of anyone, and not just in Professor Thornton’s Stat 011 section, but Professor Crawford’s as well.
“I was very impressed with Josh’s results,” said Professor Thornton. “You always want a larger sample size when doing statistical analysis — it can be dangerous to draw conclusions from a sample size that isn’t adequately representative of the population you’re studying. I’m proud of Josh for his work,” she said.
Now that Ellow has his survey responses, he spends long hours sitting in Cornell attempting to analyze the data using R Studio, but keeps running into errors.
“I’m still debugging here so I don’t quite have any conclusions yet, but I have a feeling this project is gonna turn out great. I’m trying to decide if I want to do a chi-squared test or a t-test or maybe a linear regression,” he said. “Honestly, I’m not sure which one I’m supposed to use, so I might just do all three and hope for the best. I haven’t been doing too well on the last few homeworks so I’m hoping that a good grade on this project bumps me solidly into the A- range. And it’ll also definitely be useful to me in my role as Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor and Educator.”
Writer’s note: Jellow, if I’ve offended you in this satirical article I am truly sorry, it was not my intention. You’re a really cool guy, and I truly appreciate everything you do. I wrote this article out of love for you. Apart from Izzy, you’re probably the most beloved being in Student Health and Wellness. Thank you for everything you do, and I hope the survey was successful. My friends and I all filled it out.