Student Election Survey Examines Important Issues

Posted: November 1, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Megan McDonnell

With election time nearing, students at George Mason have been taking advantage of the unique opportunity to mix the classroom with the real world. Students in a research methods class taught by Greg Guagnano, Sociology and Anthropology, have been surveying George Mason students about which election issues are most important to them.

Although many ages will be surveyed, the class is interested in the voting behaviors of the 18-24 age range—one that has had the lowest voting percentage in past elections. “I think the youth cohort is going to be very influential in this election, more so than they have in the past,” says Guagnano, who believes this year’s rise in voter registration in this age group is thanks in part to programs like Rock the Vote and other online initiatives.

The survey hopes to find links between voting behavior and other forms of political participation. One link the students are researching is how community involvement affects the political participation of the student. Another unique link assesses parental involvement in the student’s life to see if it encourages political involvement from the student. The group also hopes to examine whether or not issues the students feel are important to them personally are the same issues they feel are important to the nation.

The idea behind the project is that it is created from beginning to end by the students in the research methods class. They will present the survey results in class at the end of the semester. The class has divided into five groups to work on the different aspects of a formal survey. Some students conduct a literature review; others construct the questions or pull the sample. One group is in charge of data management, another will analyze the data gathered, and the last group will report the findings.

The random sample of about 500 George Mason students was contacted last month via e-mail.

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