Friday, September 4, 2015

Surveys

So, a lot has been going on, and someone sent me a personal attack in one of my survey responses, attacking people like me who feel like talking on and on and on about our problems and bad things that happened to us and things other people have done to us. And just to be clear, the fact that other people have issues and aren't going on and on and on about them is not my problem. Last I checked, I was not sitting in someone's house holding their hands down so they can't type on the computer. There is an infinite amount of space on the internet, and it is not my problem that other people choose not to write about their problems.

Anyway, I had to delete the survey result so that I can access my surveymonkey account without feeling bad about myself. Like I've mentioned before, I'm a feelings-first person and one of the neediest people you'll ever meet - feelings always come before things like survey data collection protocol (especially since this is personal and not for a company or anything).

When I wrote the survey, I was feeling great because I was in my element. I truly LOVE writing surveys, and if I had a bigger group of people to take them like I did in college, I would write lots more, and write them much more regularly. (Not that college was good at all, but I had access to a school-wide email list where I could send out surveys. It was common for people to send out surveys on the email list, and since it was the whole school, I wouldn't feel like I was bombarding the same friends over and over again with surveys because different people would take them each time).

So, to make myself feel better, I've decided to show off all of the surveys that I've written, because I do think I'm good at making surveys, and I love doing it:

1. Quitting Experiences Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5BPY97M
Open to: Everyone.
Purpose: Research for my first novel. I ask people about their experiences of wanting to quit something but having a hard time doing it, and different pressures involved in not feeling like you can quit.
Results: Wonderful. I learned a lot about the feelings and pressures that are involved in quitting, and I felt a connection with a lot of the people who took the survey. I got a very wide range of responses, which was great! Some people wrote about extra-curricular activities they got involved in and decided they wanted to quit. A few others wrote about trying to quit harmful things, such as addictive drugs and self-harming. One person talked about wanting to quit working hard at their schoolwork when things got very difficult. These results were helpful not only for my novel, but for my general understanding of the difficulties of quitting. I'm referencing the results again to help with the quitting section of my validation book.
Is it still open? YES! Even though my novel is done, this is an area of extreme interest for me, and I would absolutely love to hear from more people! (Especially since I have a new, non-Colby demographic now!)

2. Summer Camp Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5H7PFSB
Open to: People who have attended an overnight summer camp. Any duration of stay is fine. This survey is preferably for people who would have gone to camp from the 1990s to the present.
Purpose: Research for my first novel. My novel takes place at a psychology experiment program that is similar to a summer camp, but different. Since I've never gone to overnight summer camp, I wanted to know what a normal camp experience was like on different aspects. I mainly needed to figure out what the characters would have been expecting from a summer camp, how the program in the book is different, and how they would have felt about the changes.
Results: This survey helped me out a lot in terms of organizing my novel and figuring out what my fictional summer program was really going to be like. It did not feel quite as successful as the quitting survey because I did not get the same wide range of responses. Basically, everyone who responded loved camp and no one who answered the survey felt much homesickness or had anything negative to say about the experience. In the quitting survey, I'm pretty sure that I got a mix of responses from Colby and non-Colby students, but in the summer camp survey, I think I got exclusively Colby students. Colby students are more likely than my other friends to have had the opportunity to go to summer camp, and to have enjoyed that experience. I also advertised the survey on the email list as "Share your summer camp experience!" because I knew that would attract more people, but that also might have deterred people who didn't like camp from answering the survey at all. The quitting survey made me feel more connected to other people, but reading the camp survey results, as someone who would have hated summer camp, made me feel pretty lonely. My college was very much for people who loved summer camp, to the point that it was common for new freshman to say, "This feels like summer camp," and it was unheard of for college to be your first time away from home.
Is it still open? People are still welcome to take this survey if they would like, but I don't need the data anymore since it was mainly for this one novel. If I write another summer camp story someday, I will need to write a new survey for younger people, because I assume that camps are constantly changing with the times.

3. High School Summer Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5PK9NH7
Open to: Anyone who has made it to at least 12th grade of high school. (The survey is about what you did during the summer between 11th and 12th grades of high school, with the assumption that you planned to complete 12th grade).
Purpose: My novel takes place at an overnight summer-long program, and all of the main characters are in the summer between 11th and 12th grade of high school. It's important to the story that all of the characters are the same age, in the same grade. This summer felt right to me because of all the complicated feelings you have when you're about to leave everyone you grew up with. But after I finished writing and editing the book, I did a double take and realized, how many people would actually have time for a program like the one in my book during that summer between 11th and 12th grade? Most people have summer jobs. People planning to go to college might be looking at schools, preparing for the SATs, etc. This survey was meant to assess whether I could leave things as they are, or if I needed to push the story back to the summer between 10th and 11th grade because it's just not believable that this could happen between 11th and 12th grade.
Results: I actually never collected data on this survey. I made it, but never posted it anywhere, so no one has ever taken it or seen it. It was a combination of me deciding not to pursue publishing my first novel and me pretending to be someone who doesn't post a lot of stuff.
Is it still open? Yes! Even though I'm not working on the book that inspired the survey, I am often writing about high-school aged people, and this is very valuable knowledge for me to have. Also, this survey is very quick and easy. It's multiple choice rather than open response.

4. College Size Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5PRQ37V
Open to: Anyone who has been to high school and college. You do not need to have completed college, just been there long enough to get a feel for what college is like.
Purpose: I wanted to do this back in college, but I finally got the guts in 2013. My high school had 1400 students, and I liked that size. It was just right for me - not too big, not too small, just right. (I had previously been at a K-8 school with only 250 students and that was waaaaayyyy too small for me!) So I figured that when I applied to college, I should try to go someplace about the same size as my high school, since that size felt ideal to me. Colby College had 1800 students, but yet, it felt smaller than my high school. Much smaller. Living on campus instead of going back to your own house afterwards made it feel incredibly small. So I decided to make a conversion chart comparing high school size to college size. For instance, 1,000 students in high school might really equal 4,000 students in college. I was hoping to provide a resource like this to high school students so that they can make better choices about what size college they will be happiest at.
Results: I need more of them. I only got 4 responses including my own, and with the nature of what I'm doing, I really need a lot of responses to come up with a conversion factor.
Is it still open? Yes! This is the quickest and easiest of all the quizzes, and I really need more results in order to find that conversion factor.

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