Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Student attitude and perceived effectiveness towards MU Alerts

Researchers: Anthony Scarpiniti, Savanna Peterson, Leah Cousins, Lauren Wells, Jamie Edgar



Group 1 began to do research on MU alerts after coming to the conclusion that during all the years the five members have been at Mizzou (ranging from 2.5 to 4.5), we have felt unsafe and uninformed on campus due to a lack of communication about violent happenings. MU Alerts are an online emergency information center for the University of Missouri. They communicate with Mizzou students, employees and parents via text message, a website, email and Facebook. Only Mizzou students and staff can be signed up for the alert system however anybody can view the online postings. MU alerts gives individuals the options on what kind of notifications they would like to receive and if they would prefer calls or text messages.


However, while Mizzou is lucky to have an alerts system like that, members of Group 1 felt that they were highly ineffective and wanted to see if other students did as well. We heard complaints from many of our peers that MU Alerts didn’t notify them fast enough when something dangerous happened or only gave minimal details, thus ensuring more hysteria. As we were conducting our research, we found that MU Alerts continued to be ineffective when violence on our campus was rumored to be happening as a result of the #Concernedstudent1950 protests.


Studying MU alerts is so important because this alert system could potentially stop a student from being on an area of campus where there is recorded act of violence or prevent a student from coming to campus if something dangerous is happening. MU Alerts is important because it hypothetically gives students the opportunity to get themselves to a safe place should a crisis occur, however, we feel that they simply do not do enough.


While Group 1 recognizes that not all MU Alerts will have all of the details right away, we are hoping that they will be improved so instead of causing hysteria by a lack of details or Alerts sent, they will overall help the safety of Mizzou students.  Our main goal from this research was to find out if the majority of Mizzou students really did feel that MU alerts was ineffective and if so, where/when on campus did they feel most unsafe? We also polled in what capacity they received their alerts in.  



After the series of events that have recently occurred at the University of Missouri, MU Alerts found itself in the middle of student criticism for its lack of clarity and effectiveness during times of need. For example, the issue of timeliness arose after the University failed to notify students of a loose armed gunman on campus. Students were notified of his whereabouts after he had been killed by MU police leaving many students helpless and uninformed while the gunman was on campus. Another area criticized by students leading to our research was lack of information regarding the location of the area an alert was affecting. This is seen in a tweet sent by MU Alerts on August 27 stating “Active threat near MU take precautions.” Not only does this not describe the threat, but also does not inform students where the threat takes place to make them aware of areas to avoid. Students responded with questions via tweet like “what kind of threat?”, “No point in telling us there’s a threat on campus if you can’t tell us what kind of threat it is & where it is!” By lacking in these areas MU Alerts lead to uncertainty for students and their safety.




The population of interest in this study is MU undergraduate students. Participants were asked to complete an online survey about MU alerts with the aim of answering these following questions:


100 MU students completed the survey from November 3rd 2015 through December 6th 2015. Most respondents took 2 to 5 minutes to complete the survey. On average most participants were females(86%) and most of the participants lived off campus(65%). The survey consisted of close ended questions with the use of a likert scale to get a sense of the student’s general attitude or feelings towards MU alerts. For example student’s responses to their feelings towards safety were somewhat safe, very safe, neutral , unsafe, or very unsafe. The majority of the participants were recruited with the help of Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. A link to the survey was posted on those social media outlets where the students could follow the link in order to complete the survey. The survey link was also sent as a text message so students with smartphones could access it easily to complete it.




           How safe do you feel on campus in the morning? 
Graphic (1)

              How safe do you feel on campus at night?

Graphic (2)

  • RQ1: Are MU Alerts effective?
    • 53% of MU students disagree or strongly disagree that MU Alerts are clear.
    • 57% of MU students agree or strongly agree that MU Alerts are effective.
  • RQ2: What time of day do you feel least safe?
    • MU Students felt most safe in the mornings and in the afternoon
  • RQ3: What do students think of MU Alerts?
    • 57% of MU students agree or strongly agree that MU Alerts are helpful
    • 53% of MU students disagree or strongly disagree that MU Alerts are clear
  • RQ4: Do students feel safe on campus?
    • 86% of MU Students feel safer on campus than off


Consensus of participants:

  • MU Alerts generally are helpful
  • MU Alerts are not seen as being clear
  • MU alerts favor towards being useful
  • Very split for safety, and satisfaction.
  • Feel least safe at night
  • Feel safer on Campus
  • MU alerts make them feel generally afraid


Generally speaking, MU alerts are helpful but they need to be tweaked so they are more clear and so students are satisfied. From the data shown I would say that MU alerts are only somewhat effective.



We identified a few key limitations that could have provided insight on larger social issues at this campus. Questions pertaining to off-campus living could have been construed as ambiguous in determining how to classify student housing complexes and neighborhoods that touch the north, east, and west corners of campus. Furthermore, we initially didn’t see race to be a demographic quality that would make a statistical difference. However, after the events of #ConcernedStudent1950, we were able to see that feelings of insecurity began to arise on social media among students of different racial backgrounds and could be a possible factor.


With careful consideration of these limitations, we propose further research be done on student feelings of perceived effectiveness of toward their university’s emergency alert systems. We recommend focusing on universities of similar size and demographic profile and accounting for specific student housing and racial identities. Secondly, the results from extensive research should be used to develop a proposal for a modified Mizzou application that would available for download on smartphones. With an MU application already implemented, the modifications would would be both cost-effective and user friendly.


In addition to the application, we propose customization options within the settings section and a safety feature similar to SafeTrek, another application developed by an engineering student at this university. This personal safety application allows a student to walk across campus with his or her finger pressed firmly on the button on the home page. Upon releasing, students have a limited time to submit their password that unlocks the application before authorities are notified of their location and unsafe situation.


As we test the application in a beta version, we propose creating a user survey to gauge student use and their satisfaction with customizable settings for alerts, notifications, and safety features. Modifications should be applied and retested. Lastly, the university should implement as sign-up strategy for the application at new student orientations and counseling appointments for returning students. By implementing this, the university can directly monitor enrollment and usage rates, gauge feedback through in-app survey collection.


While this proposal does not correct this larger social issue, it is a step in the right direction of improving communication between authorities and the student body. We know how students prefer interaction and that these efforts are appreciated, these suggestions offers opportunity for improved clarity and efficiency of message delivery.



In conclusion, we think that MU Alerts, at the moment, aren’t as effective as they need to be. We have seen this through recent events over the past year. MU alerts has caused more harm than good and it is seen through our research group. MU alerts are seen to be needed by the students but they want them to be better, and so do we. We have both seen and experienced confusion from these alerts and it’s time to make them effective. They need to become more clear and if this is accomplished, they will become more effective. The safety of our student body and faculty is a major priority for everyone, let’s keep everyone safe. It begins with MU Alerts. Our goal was to find out the attitudes and effectiveness of MU Alerts and we have found that MU Alerts are not perceived positively and are not as effective as they can be. Hopefully through our research the University could see that and could make MU Alerts more effective for all.

Categories: Research

Politics Schmolitics

Research conducted by: Michael Fish, Kyra Heatly, Brianna Whitney, and Mary Beth Shearn


In our research study, we wanted to determine how Mizzou students find their political information and how they discuss it with their peers via social media. We interpreted this into four research questions that are answered via Mizzou student survey that was posted by each member of the research group. Based on past literature, the younger American audience heavily discusses politics via social media and our evidence supports this. The survey results are explained through pie charts and then followed by take away points of what we all learned from the results of the survey.  Our research questions determine where Mizzou students find their political information and how they discuss it with their peers via social media. What we narrowed down with one another and wanted to focus to find out more about was in our four research questions which are:

RQ1: What communication mediums do Mizzou students use to access political information? Such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

RQ2: Why are Mizzou students motivated to publicly post about politics?

RQ3: Do dissenting opinions of you personal political beliefs discussed face-to-face or on social media bring you discomfort?

RQ4: What classes at Mizzou engage Mizzou students to discuss politics more freequently/less often? Such as Political Science, History, Communications, etc

Increasing social media usage affects the perspectives we have on important issues in our life. People gather the information from a variety of news sources. It allows people to express themselves. Our culture is consumed with media. Looking down the line, say, 10 years from now, will show us how far we have come with social media. We wonder what it will be like even two years from now. It seems a little scary to think about.

The reason why these questions are what we found to be important and to focus on is because social media provides greater communication mediums for our age group, they increase the amount of knowledge we receive, and they increase the potential for us to engage in political discussion with our peers face-to-face. (Shirk, 2011, p 29)

Political information, especially in campaign seasons, is more readily accessible and shown on social media in an attempt to attract attention to a young audience, while advertising to older communities on television (Price, 2012).

Our IRB was approved the morning after Tim Wolfe’s resignation. Our Facebook feeds were flooded, so our first assumption of the survey. Second assumption would be increased motivations to post a dissenting perspective because of campus climate. We connected our findings with the ConcernedStudent1950 and looked at numerous social media sights that showed people expressing their opinions, updates with what was going on, etc.

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We began to find our results by creating a Qualtrics survey. Each member posted the survey for our political study via Facebook, via text, and word of mouth. We opened up the Qualtrics study on November 12, 2015 and had it remain open for 27 days. In all, 120 participants began the survey, but only 94 completed the survey. For survey results, we were pleased to find that our male to female ratio for who answered the survey was quite similar in that the percentage of males that took it was 46% and females that took it was at 54%. Therefore, the method of using the Qualtrics survey worked in our advantage, unlike other groups and we think this is because we asked people to take it using multiple outlets.



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Some interesting points from the results we also found were there was relatively no gender bias in data. The amount of males that took the survey was 46% and the amount of females that took it was 54%. Now, this is only coming off of the 94 individuals that completed the survey of the 120 that actually started it. From this, and based on the trend of the two data sets, what we concluded is that it’s not far fetched to think that if the extra 26 people had completed the survey, that our results would correlate further and justify our present results.

Another interesting thing we found was that there was a somewhat evenly distributed political identity in the survey. The amount of Democrats and Republicans were relatively the same when it came to how much they posted, or how overt they were with talking about political issues and their own views.


We had missing data because not all participants completed the survey. Only 94 of the 120 completed the survey so this is where we can’t fully prove that our results are completely true, but the comparison of other data says it’s possible and that it is more accurate than not. Keeping the survey open accidently for an extra 3 days helped this.

We also had contradictions. A large number of participants stated they did not care for the discussion of politics on social media yet the majority of participants claimed that they would respond to initiated discussions. Our social media news feeds say otherwise. People said they didn’t post , or engage in political discussion, but we saw and see it everywhere. Self reporting social media use is wildly inaccurate of what we found. As past research has suggested, the younger generation, preferably millennials, will be discussing politics on social media further and further.

Categories: Research

How Tigers Find Their Homes


Alissa Gibbons, Norine McGovern, Hannah Downs, Angela Gallozzi, and Kurtis Prather

As Mizzou student population gets bigger, so does the demand for attractive off campus housing options for students. We conducted an online survey in order to ask students what housing options they choose as well as how they choose them. Our focus was mainly on Mizzou students who are sophomores, juniors, or seniors because they are more likely to live off campus. We considered things such as price, distance from campus, amenities, neighbors and how roommates were chosen. This research is important because having a comfortable affordable living situation plays a large role in the college experience.

For this study we had three central research questions. They are as follows:

  1. How do undergraduate students find their housing?
  2. What do Mizzou students prefer in student housing
  3. What is the most popular type of housing for Mizzou students?

These questions were the bases for our study. From them we underwent a literature review and developed hypotheses before we launched our online survey.

Through the literature research, we found that most students prefer to have a bedroom with a desk and an apartment with a kitchen and a dining room are ideal (Najib, Yusof and Osman 2011). The importance of having off campus living options is extremely important according to an article written by Waldman (2002). He indicates that it is essential for students to be able to make their own home instead of ‘living in a cube for their college career;’ however he also discusses the monopolization of the housing market by schools by narrowing down the choices for students. We can use this information to look at the housing market in Columbia and see the level of involvement Mizzou has on our choices. In an article by Manino, we found research that there is an increase in the amount of students going to universities; thus causing on campus university housing to not be able to keep up with the rising numbers. Because of this, there seems to be an increase in the amount of luxury style apartments that are being built in college towns- this is something that we can all clearly see happening at Mizzou. In an article named “Trends of Student Housing: Process and Product,” it’s discussed how some schools require freshman and sophomores to live on campus, while upperclassmen often live off campus. The last article that we looked at discussed the factors that can affect a student’s decision of whether or not to live on campus or off campus. These factors include campus activities, the size of the campus, and what the rates for living off campus are comparatively (Petrova).

From this literature review we were able to find multiple sources that had researched similar topics as to ours; thus providing us with enough background knowledge to make educated hypotheses on what our survey data would reveal. We constructed four hypotheses:

  1. Student’s preference for traveling to and from school would primarily be walking
  2. The new luxury complexes would be the most popular style of living for students.
  3. Word of mouth would be the most popular way for students to find out about housing options.
  4. Student’s average budget wouldn’t exceed $1000 a month.


For our research method, we created an online survey using Missouri Qualtrics. This survey used a variety of question styles, like multiple choice, ranking, and Likert scale questions.

We used ranking questions in order to get an idea of what is most preferred in regards to housing, method of travel to and from campus, and neighbor preference. These questions gave us an idea about what is the most popular for students and what is the least wanted for students in regards to their housing.


We used multiple choice questions for questions where we wanted one, straightforward answer. We used multiple choice for form of communication to find their housing, price range, number of roommates, and gender preference of roommates. These questions were great to cross tabulate to discover what type of people prefer the luxury style of living.

We used Likert scale questions to discover what extras people need/enjoy in their housing. These “extras” include parking being included in the rent, the social atmosphere of the housing, allowing pets, and luxurious extras such as a pool, gym, and private bathroom.

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All participants of our research project had to be undergraduate Mizzou students who live off-campus. This means that the majority of our participants are upper-class students. We recruited people to complete our survey through posting the survey on social media, like Facebook and Twitter, and sending out the survey link to our friends and to our peers through organizations that we are a part of. In total, we received 100 responses to our survey.

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To analyze our data, we looked at our on-line survey results. We compared our results with our research questions and hypotheses to see if Mizzou undergraduate students communicated that they prefer the luxury style of living.

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Timeline of our research project.




The most notable results from our surveys are illustrated by the following graphs.


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Percentages of the most popular ways student communicate to find their housing options.

Word of mouth was by far the most common method students used to find their housing, followed by general online searching at a distant second. This question is important because it highlights exactly how students find their housing, and what helps to dictate the trends we see in housing selection.

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Percentage of students who prefer each price range for their housing each month. $400-$700 is the most preferred

This question shows that students consider such luxury amenities as a gym or a pool to be less important, however standard utilities such as a washer, dryer and a parking space to be important.

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Percentage of students who either strongly agree or agree that these amenities are important

This data shows us that students tend to desire reasonably priced luxury housing over cheap or extravagant living. This correlates with the large amount of luxury apartments currently available to students, and that that number continues to grow each year as more luxury housing is built. Students seem to want to stay in the $400-$700 range. 

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Percentages of the most popular style of housing to live in.

Our results show that individual houses are by far the most desired form of housing for Mizzou undergrads, at almost two thirds of the student body wanting to live in an individual house. The close second, apartment complexes, are the first choice of only 21% of those surveyed. This shows us that while students prefer luxury housing, they also enjoy privacy as well.

From our findings, we believe that Mizzou undergraduate students who live off-campus prefer luxury living– to a certain extent. We found that students communicate with one another through word of mouth to find their housing, and we have also seen a growing trend of luxury-style apartments being built throughout the Columbia area. From this we hypothesized that luxury-style living has become an off-campus housing trend among Mizzou undergraduate students. Our survey told us that students prefer to pay between $400 and $700 dollars each month for their housing. We researched popular housing complexes in Columbia, like The Domain and Aspen Heights, and found that some of the popular luxury-style apartments start around $500. These complexes include the luxury amenities, like a pool, a gym, a study room, a private bathroom, etc. Our survey found that these luxury amenities are not as important to Mizzou undergraduate students as the basic amenities, such as a washer and dryer, parking, and utilities included. This is why we believe that students prefer luxury living, but only to a certain extent. Another reason we believe that luxury living is not the most popular, but it most likely will be soon is because the majority of students who completed our survey said their preferred method of travel between their housing and campus is walking, but driving was the most popular second choice. Analyzing all of these results as a whole led us to believe that the housing trend is quickly changing to luxury living being the most popular.

Our goal for this research project was to find out what Mizzou Tigers look for in their off campus housing. We looked into how they find their housing, what amenities they prefer in their housing, and what the most popular type of housing is for Mizzou students. To conduct our research, we surveyed 100 Mizzou sophomore, junior, and senior students over a period of four weeks. We asked them questions about their current living situation, what their housing ideals were, and how they found out about their current residences. We believe this is important research because it gives an insight to how realtors and investors should adjust their properties to appeal to the student population in Columbia. In addition, it helps realtors to better communicate with prospective tenants at their properties. In terms of recommendations for realtors who view this data, affordable student housing seems to be the most important. People are willing to give up certain amenities for a cheaper price. Amenities that are most important include parking and a washer and dryer unit. Having these amenities, but keeping housing affordable is what will make a property the most attractive to a prospective tenant. As the Mizzou student body grows, more housing units will be built; they will only be successful if they have qualities and amenities that are attractive to the students.


Categories: Research

Blog #7: Health (Childhood Obesity)

November 16, 2015 Leave a comment
  • The tweet I chose to use is about childhood obesity in the United States and the growing rates for 10-17 year olds for the years 2003-2011. This research is based on the National Survey for children’s health.
  • As a result of the research taken, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention obesity rates remain high and very common among 2-19 year olds. This data has also shown that states in the south are more common to have higher obesity rates.
  • My questions are:
  • 1) How was this data collected overall, did they take surveys of children in medical offices?
  • 2) Where the number of children polled the same in each state?
  • 3) Why do they believe the numbers to be higher in obesity in the south? Could further research be done to prove a correlation?


Categories: BLOG 7, Research, Uncategorized

Blog Post #6: Offenses and Arrests in Missouri Data

October 26, 2015 1 comment

1) I shared this data because I found the way they display their data really well illustrates the crime rates in Missouri over the years. I think this information is helpful to anyone that lives in Missouri.

2) The data in the article is from the Missouri State Highway Patrol Statistical Analysis center, It was conducted between 1995 and 2013.

3) A question I have about this data is, What made the violent crime arrests go down in the recent years? Also, if there was anything done differently in 2006 to prevent officer deaths, and if this could be repeated to help protect them more effectively?


Categories: BLOG 6, Research Tags:

Blog 6: Missouri Businesses

October 26, 2015 Leave a comment

  1. This article highlights how the state of Missouri is a good state to start a new business. It is ranked number one in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau and analyzed by the Kaufman foundation. With our economy being very poor nationally this article is very important and shows hope for the state of Missouri.
  2. This data was collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and analyzed by the Kaufman foundation. The data was collected form the year 2013, because this was the last time data was collected. With results coming from individual businesses.
  3. This article shows a lot of promising data. However, it does not specify on how is received the data. Did they get the numbers from tax returns? profits? It seems simple on how one can see if a business is doing well or not but I would like more concrete evidence of this data.
Categories: BLOG 6, Research

Blog Post 4: Usage of social media during the Pope’s visit

October 7, 2015 1 comment

  1. This tweet was chosen due to how recent the Pope visited the United States and the significance it had as well as the media coverage that was placed on the event. The article is about how surprisingly most media outlets did not use social media and instead focused on personal interviews and encounters with the public to shape the coverage. With the large amount of phones and other tablets out during the events little social media was used by journalists.
  2. The data was collected by PEW research analytics which looked at 12 different news sources. as well as across 12 websites, pulled from the top 25 sites listed in comScore’s news and information category. In each story, researchers coded the presence of 17 different source types and whether for each social media was referenced.
  3. This is very interesting due to the rise of social media use in news outlets. But why are we so concerned about social media when getting news coverage of the Pope? It is the Pope for crying out loud. Secondly, I am not surprised news outlets did not cite a social networking cite, with the importance of the Pope’s visit, wouldn’t one try and get the most credible source for an article? like a direct quote or video footage.
Categories: BLOG 4, Research Tags: