Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bonus data! Using the right incentive to survey alcohol use with student evaluations

campus event evaluations with alcohol questions

I knew our late-night event would draw a large crowd of first-year students (because they are the only ones moved-in on campus so far), so I wanted to add some survey questions about alcohol quantity and frequency usage in addition to our regular evaluation questions. We also wanted to get a more attractive incentive for the evaluation table, because compared to all the other freebies we were giving out, stickers wouldn't get much attention.

wholesale silicone ion sports watch

We normally give out temporary tattoos, stickers, or candy as an incentive at our evaluation table. This time, however, we got some trendy silicone sport watches. These incentives look very impressive - some companies are selling them for $21.99 each, pretending they are infused with negative ions to give you extra balance and strength (don't get me started) - but they're actually around $0.39 to $0.48 per unit depending on the quantity, if you buy wholesale. Just Google "silicone sport watch" and see what comes up.

The evaluation was a great success, and we got a stack of responses (I'm guessing around 250, but I haven't counted yet).

stack of evaluations

What's even more exciting, students actually filled out the alcohol quantity and frequency questions! This means we have "bonus" survey data on the first night these students were on campus. When we ask the same questions on future evaluations, we can compare trends. We'll also be able to answer the age-old question: Are we providing alternative events for students who would normally be drinking, or are we providing entertainment for students who don't drink?

I intentionally included a subjective question: "How many days in a typical week do you get drunk?" that I got from an interesting study called "Single Question about Drunkenness to Detect College Students at Risk for Injury" in the journal of Academic Emergency Medicine. Although this question is subjective, it positively correlates with typical measures of alcohol-related negative consequences. Basically, it's a quick and dirty approach when you just don't have room for the entire AUDIT survey.

I'm excited to get into the office on Monday to really dig into this data. Exciting start to the year!