When the Fall Reading Week was first instituted at Brock, Kelly Pilato, a PhD-student at Brock, was hired to conduct a series of research over a period of three years. That trial period of three years is now over and the Senate will decide whether or not to keep the Fall Reading Week as a permanent part of the school year calendar.
“We ran surveys and focus groups and then we input the data, transcribe the focus groups and analyze the results,” said Pilato, of the research that she’s been doing.
Pilato is currently in the process of finalizing the results for this year’s data collection. The information will be presented to the Undergraduate Student Affairs Committee on Feb. 12 who will decide whether or not the data is valid. If approved, the results will be presented at the next University Senate meeting on Mar. 16.
This year, BUSU’s Advocacy Hub helped Pilato with the promotion and collection of surveys. Student volunteers were at hand to get students to fill out the survey. While Pilato had to be present with the volunteers, she could not influence people to fill out the surveys in order to remain completely unbiased and neutral in her research.
In combination with the printed and on-line surveys, Pilato estimates that they received just over 1,000 results. Last year they collected 1,100 surveys and the year before the tally was at 800.
The survey was a series of 17 questions concerning the effectiveness of the Fall Reading Week in reducing stress levels, what students generally did over the break, how often they came to school, etc.
Based on the results from the past two years, Pilato has seen a few overall trends from the student feedback.
“Students overwhelmingly like the break. They perceive that it reduces stress and they like where it is, tacked on to the Thanksgiving weekend,” said Pilato.
Jeremy Steinhausen, the Advocacy Coordinator for BUSU, echoed Pilato’s findings.
“Students want to keep the Fall Reading Week and they use it mainly for studying. Also, their stress levels were reduced going into final exams,” said Steinhausen. “Next to no students wanted to get rid of it.”
Most students were unaware that the Fall Reading Week was, in fact, still in a trial phase and that it could potentially be removed.
“Once they find out that it could be taken away, there was an instant reaction to fill out the surveys,” said Steinhausen. “Students want to show that the Fall Reading Week is effective for them.”
While students no doubt appreciate a week-long break, there is nevertheless the possibility that they answered the survey questions in such a way to make the Fall Reading Week appear as effective as possible. The problem with survey results is that it is basically impossible to tell whether students were truthful or not in filling it out.
In the meantime, it will be up to the Senate to decide whether or not the survey results represent an accurate representation of student opinion about the Fall Reading Week and if it should stay.
“We wanted [students] to know that the survey has been completed and that they’ll find out soon if the break will be kept or not,” said Steinhausen.