Student-run survey looks for connection between extracurricular activities, academic performance

By Laura Diamond

James Jesson/Daily Collegian

The next time you think about going to a party, heading to the Recreation Center or cracking open a beer, think about how that can affect your academic performance.

That’s what a group of five sophomore Commonwealth Honors students – Emily  Richards, Dan Fallon, Heather Guadagnoli, Olivia Kennis and Dan Legmann – did, as they conducted a survey to see if there was any connection between a student’s extracurricular activities and academic performance.

The survey, which was conducted in a large lecture hall, asked students 15 “yes” or “no” and range scale questions about education, party habits, alcohol and drug use and exercise. After putting the results of every filled-out survey into a statistics program called “Minitab,” the group figured out if any two factors were “statistically significant,” or if there was a relationship between any two.

The results show that many of the activities had no impact on a student’s GPA and most of the students had high GPAs.

“We intended on looking at GPA with every single one of the things we did but when it came out, we realized almost everyone put down 3.8s, 3.7s, so it really fluctuated throughout our results,” Richards said. “We ended up looking at the other questions besides GPA and saw that there were more relationships between them.”

One interesting statistic they found was that students who smoke marijuana tend to enroll in fewer credits than their peers. The survey also showed, on average, men smoke more marijuana, consume more alcoholic beverages and attend the gym more often than females.

“For the most part, (the statistics) seemed kind of obvious, but it’s funny to actually get a big population and test it statistically and say, ‘Yeah, this is true.’ It’s not just an assumption,” Fallon said.

While putting this survey together and gathering the results, the group had to meet at 8 a.m. once a week since the beginning of the semester.

“It was definitely a trial and error process,” Kennis said.

They wanted to look at several other variables, but ultimately decided on questions that were straightforward that students would be more inclined to answer. After making sure each of the 200 surveys was consistently answered, each group member went back and inputted a stack of data.

The group was under the supervision of their statistics professor Joanna Jeneralczuk, who met with them five times throughout the semester.

“As we’re going about the project, every new statistic we find kind of ties in with what we’re learning, so it was just interesting to see and made us understand what we learned in class better with a hands-on project,” Richards said.

“A lot of times in class we learn, like, this is how you do it, this is the formula, and we don’t understand what that actually means, but doing this definitely made it more real world,” Kennis said. “When you break it down, each part was a pretty simple process but looking at it all, it’s really cool to see how it all came together.”

Laura Diamond can be reached at [email protected]