Professors study how students are spending time

Two faculty members are conducting a survey to find out how UMHB students spend their time. The study began Oct. 19 and will end Nov. 2. It was created and is being supervised by Dr. Doyle Eiler, associate professor of marketing, and Dr. Paul Stock, assistant professor and chairperson of accounting, economics and finance.

The survey asks students to record their time consumption by recalling how they spent their time in 30-minute intervals throughout a 24-hour period, beginning at 4 a.m.

“After doing some research about when to end the day, we found that most students are done for the day by 4 in the morning,” Eiler said. “For some groups of people midnight would be a good time to end the day. However, for students we thought 4 would be better. With our original test groups, we also found that recalling what you did throughout the day in 30-minute intervals works much better than 15-minute periods or hour intervals.”

Eiler and Stock have developed a list of 13 categories for students to choose from when recording their time usage. Some include sleeping, eating, personal care, class time, study time, work, activities and athletics.

“I worked in industry and had never been at a university this small, and when I came here I had some expectations,” Eiler said. “I was surprised when students were in class taking and telling me about how much time they said they were working or that a number of students were taking courses at other universities at the same time they were going here. I was also very surprised by the magnitude of time that seemed to be consumed by athletics.”

“So my question was ‘What are students doing with their time?’ If you are going to address the problem of students sleeping in class, are they just being foolish, or are they working a full-time job too? If a student skips class, is it because they are goofing off, or are they in the gym training or at a meeting for an organization or taking care of their children?”

The U.S. Department of Labor did a similar survey on how students spend their time nationwide conducted from 2003 to 2005. The study concluded that students on average spend 8.5 hours sleeping, 4.1 hours in leisure and sports activities and 2.7 hours working.

The survey here will not only focus on how typical undergraduate students spend their time but will also update the conclusions found nearly four years ago.

“The Department of Labor used a diary method for their survey, but we thought that that method would be more tedious and less conclusive than other methods. Instead, since we were working with students, we created our own categories based on what students generally are doing and the convenience of the Web,” Eiler said.

“I think it’ll be interesting for students to fill out the survey,” Stock said. “Most people are surprised how much time they spend during the day doing different things. Many students will be surprised specifically by how much time they spend doing frivolous things.”

Stock also commented on how the  this will aid in campus planning.

“I think (it ) will have an effect on campus-sponsored student activities because the administration will  have a better idea of when students are available and what they are most interested in doing,” Stock said.

Not only is the survey divided into time intervals and categories, but it is also separated into days.

“We’ve split the seven-day week into five time periods,” Stock said. “In our minds, Monday and Wednesday for most college students are essentially the same; Tuesday and Thursday are essentially the same; and usually Friday, Saturday and Sunday are very different for each student. So we’ll be asking students to answer questions according to each of the five different periods.”

The survey  takes students approximately 10 minutes to fill out, and each participating student will have five opportunities to do so.

At the end of the survey period, there will be a drawing for a Nintendo Wii. Each time a registered student logs in and fills out a survey he or she can win the Wii.

“I’m really excited to see how I spend my time,” senior finance major Russell Persky said. “I mean I would like to win the Wii, but I’m participating in the survey as a way to try and see how my time is spent, and, hopefully, waste less time.”

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