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SOAR 2015: Max Korten '16

Max Korten '16

Cliques And Diversity Among Students In Various Institutions

Major: Sociology
Hometown: Glen Head, NY
Advisor: Dr. Debra Wetcher-Hendricks

Briefly describe your project.

My project was witnessing whether there are cliques among college students, and seeing if there was a correlation with institution size. I wanted to examine and see if students spent time with others among the social organization (s) they were apart of (Greek Life, Athletics, Student Government, etc.), or if they frolicked with other students from different organizations, other than the one(s) they are a part of.

Why did you decide to turn your idea into a SOAR project?

I actually did this as a proposal for my research methods class for sociology and I really enjoyed doing it! Therefore, I wanted to expand it into a SOAR project, and see if my hypothesis from my methods class was correct. I chose Dr. Wetcher-Hendricks because my research methods professor suggested her as a reference since she helps students with conducting SOAR projects.

How did your faculty advisor guide you through your research?

I think my favorite part working with Dr. Wetcher-Hendricks was that she was really patient, and extremely helpful with coming up with suggestions for my project, because I did feel lost at times of what I wanted to exactly do. Some valuable insights that Dr. Wetcher-Hendricks was figuring out a new solution to my project if it was not working at first, because I did experience that several times while working on it during the summer. I feel that if I did not have her as an advisor, it would have been fairly more difficult to conduct this on my own, without the use of her knowledge and expertise in the field of research.

What was your biggest obstacle?

My biggest obstacle was getting respondents to do my survey for my research. I thought this was going to be an easy process at first, but I found that my participants would not do it for several reasons, or would not answer my e-mails explaining of what my project consisted of. Another obstacle were having several  institution’s IRBs not accepting my research proposal, and having to find other institutions who would be willing to conduct it.  From this happening, I had to change (several times) of whom and how I would conduct my research to certain participants.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest takeaway was seeing of everything paid off. There were many times that I did not think that I was going to get enough participants for my study, and I often questioned if my study was a valuable research proposal. However, with the help of Dr. Wetcher-Hendricks and coming up with other useful ideas for recruiting participants, I was happy that I was able to get a significant number of people to do my survey. It really taught me of how research really works in the real world, and that you have to keep trying new ideas in order for your project to work out.

What was the result of your project? Was it congruent with your hypothesis?

My hypothesis was somewhat correct. I hypothesized originally that the bigger the institution, the more cliques would be seen among students. I did find that in very small schools (1,000-4,999), there were not as many cliques, as there were in bigger schools (20,000 or more). However, institutions that ranged from (5,000-9,999), to (10,000-14,999), and (15,000-19,999) had an inconsistent trend for clique involvement among students.  The pattern is not greatly evident when noticing small differences in institution size, but is useful when comparing small and big colleges.

Will you expand on your research after this summer is over? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I want to get my Masters in Higher Education/Student Affairs post-graduation. I am hoping that possibly I can do a similar research project like this, or expand my horizons and delve into other Higher Education topics that may sound intriguing. I do advise anyone to do a SOAR project; it is an awesome opportunity, and not many institutions allow students to do this type of summer research as an undergraduate. It may seem frustrating at first, but it definitely pays off at the end.