How to Conduct an Online Survey for a Graduate Course

by Argosy University 30 July 2014

Taking surveysAre you gathering information for a research project in one of your classes? Do you need to create a survey at work and you’re not sure of best practices? Either way, online surveys can offer low-cost, high-volume access to study participants and can drastically reduce data entry and analysis work. To achieve your research goals and avoid inaccurate results, always follow these 5 tips when planning and conducting online surveys.

1. Be concise

Keeping your survey as short and to the point as possible is essential for online research. Online surveys offer a convenient way to reach participants, but that ease of access can come with a downside: attrition. On the Internet, a significant percentage of respondents will quit after a few questions, especially on longer surveys or surveys that don’t accurately inform the participants of how long the survey will take. If you’re not careful, this can bias the sample and make your results difficult to interpret. Remember, the more concise and organized your survey, the lower your attrition rate will be.

2. Prepare for low response rates

Even if your survey is short, it may be difficult to convince many people to take the time to complete it. Remember, it's easy for people to delete your email or wander over to YouTube and forget to take your survey. To make sure you have a big enough sample, recruit more potential participants than you really need.

3. Collect basic demographic data

Even if your research doesn't deal with demographic variables like age, gender, education, or income, it's smart to collect data on those characteristics as part of your survey. Online surveys are particularly vulnerable to response bias, and the best way to combat response bias is to understand who is responding. If you notice that your sample is 90% male, you can take action to rebalance the sample. Of course, make sure your participants know why you are collecting data and what you plan to do with it.

4. Test your survey

It's extremely important to give your online survey a dress rehearsal before you start sending it out. Email your survey to a few classmates and ask them to answer the questions. Then, analyze the data. This process will help you detect—and fix--potential problems, from formatting problems to inaccurate data reporting. Conducting a thorough is the only way to ensure that things go smoothly.

5. Document everything

Anytime you conduct research, keep a thorough paper trail documenting all problems and changes to your design during the process. Careful documentation will help you explain your work to your instructors and peers and help you prepare for any future reports or publications.

Psychology Perspectives: Understanding Gambling Addictions

by Argosy University 24 July 2014

While for many gambling can seem like a fun activity, it can be a destructive force when it becomes an addiction, harming relationships, careers and lives. Gambling problems can develop over the course of years, as what was originally a leisure activity becomes a way to escape boredom or psychological stress. While gambling addiction is more prevalent in males (6), the National Center for Responsible Gaming states about 1% of people have a gambling problem or addiction.

The psychology bible, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition defines gambling addiction as a “persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to clinically significant impairment or distress” (1).

Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

Some symptoms include lying to cover up the gambling, gambling with increasing amounts of money, trying to recoup or chase losses, being unsuccessful in repeated attempts at stopping, and gambling when psychologically distressed. Other factors associated with gambling addiction include arousal and adrenal rush, boredom, experience seeking and craving excitement (2; 8), as well as sensation seeking (7; 2). The drive towards intensity, poor inhibition, and compulsive tendencies also are characteristics of those who struggle with this psychological disorder (4).

Comorbid or co-occurring psychological conditions, such as anxiety, stress, and depression can contribute to a gambling addiction (7) as gambling might be a poor way of coping with these disorders (9). Gambling addiction can occur along with unhealthy behaviors such as cigarette and alcohol abuse or addiction (6).

Those who are casual gamblers tend to be more successful at managing their emotional and psychological disturbances. They often to do it for entertainment purposes and to have fun--not necessarily for excitement. They exhibit better financial management, factoring it into their budget and planning for the possibility of losing (8).

Getting Help

While there is no one method for treatment (9), the research institute RAND Corporation found that a cognitive-behavioral approach might be helpful in focusing on psychological process of the illusion of control. Challenging biased memories of winning and losing (3), someone with a gambling addiction may be prone to false memory. Involving family or family support seems to be more effective in treating gambling addiction (5). For those who are struggling with gambling addiction and are considering seeking help, there are resources out there, such as the National Council on Problem Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous, Gambling Help Online, and the National Center for Responsible Gaming.

However, being ashamed of one’s behavior prevent some from seeking help. Denial is also a common problem as well as being intent to handling the gambling problems alone (3).

References

1: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
2: Coventry, K. R., & Brown, R. I. (1993). Sensation seeking, gambling and gambling addictions. Addiction, 88, 541-554.
3: Disley, E., Pollitt, A., Culley, D. M., & Rubin, J. (2011). Min the Gap: A Critical Review of Literature on Gambling-related Harm. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
4: el-Guebaly, N., Tanya Mudry, J. Z., Tavares, H., & Poenza, M. N. (2011). Compulsive features in behavioral addiction: the case of pathological gambling. Addiction, 107, 1726-1734.
5: Kourgiantakis, T., Jacques, M.-C. S., & Tremblay, J. (2013). Problem gambling and families: A systematic review. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 13, 353-372.
6: McCormack, A., Shorter, G. W., & Griffiths, M. D. (2013). Characteristics and predictors of problem gambling on the internet. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 11, 634-657.
7: McCormick, J., Delfabbro, P., & Denson, L. A. (2012). Psychological vulnerability and problem gambling: An application of Duran Jacobs' General Theory of Addictions to electronic gaming machine playing in Australia. Journal of Gambling Studies, 28, 665-690.
8: Ricketts, T., & MacAskill, A. (2004). Differentiating normal and problem gambling: A grounded theory approach. Addiction Research and Theory, 12(1), 77-87.
9: Suissa, A. J. (2011). Vulnerability and gambling addiction: Psychosocial benchmarks and avenues for intervention. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 9, 12-23.

Yes, you can! Learn how to balance work with online classes.

by Argosy University 16 July 2014

Elephant on tightrope

The flexibility of taking online classes is a real boon for the working student. But being able to study in your pajamas at 2 a.m. doesn't change the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day -- and somehow you have to squeeze work, school, and at least a little time for yourself into those hours.

Here are some tips to help you balance what's going on in your life without burning yourself out.

Know How You Learn

Is there a certain time of day (or night) that you feel most alert and motivated to study? Since you can access online course materials 24 hours a day, don't fight those natural inclinations -- capitalize on them by planning your study time around your motivation.

Create a Schedule

Speaking of plans, don't settle for a vague assumption that you'll "work some study time in somewhere." Putting yourself on a consistent study schedule, and then sticking to it, is the best way to make sure your coursework doesn't get away from you.

Sticking to a schedule also keeps you from creating unrealistic goals, such as thinking you'll study five chapters of material in the half-hour before your test. Nope, not gonna happen -- and if you've planned out a realistic study schedule beforehand, it won't have to.

Look for Pockets of Hidden Time

Today's wireless world means you can access your online course materials from almost anywhere. Fine-tune your time management by reading up on your assigned texts or participating in forum discussions while you're on the train or the bus, or while waiting to pick your kids up from school or extracurricular activities.

Practice Self-Care

Even though online learning offers a lot of flexibility, there's no way around the fact that combining work with any kind of school is a major effort. Protect yourself from burnout and stress-related health problems by exercising regularly and planning a little "you time" every day, even if it's just five minutes to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Oh, and sleep? Do it. As tempting as it might be to cut down on sleep to make room for other activities, being well-rested helps you work more efficiently, get more out of your education, and truly enjoy your free time (instead of napping it away).

Yes, You Can!

Striking -- and maintaining -- a work-life balance may seem foreign at first. But you can do it! Keep your eyes on the prize and remember that you're doing this for a good reason. And just think how easy your schedule will feel once you're done with school!

Not yet enrolled at Argosy University? Explore our programs and learn how to get started today!

How to Not Waste Your Time in Meetings

by Argosy University 9 July 2014

Are meetings eating more and more of your work hours, yet failing to yield results? Meetings can be useful and effective when scheduled and structured properly, but they quickly become unnecessary if not kept under control. Here are some ways you can boost productivity during meetings to ensure the highest possible return on time investment.

Ask yourself, “Is a meeting the best way to handle this?”

Meetings are excellent tools for some situations, such as when the input of a group is needed or when a group needs to make a collective decision. But other tasks, such as drafting a document or simply notifying a group about an issue, are not suitable for a meeting. Determine when a group email or quick phone call is more effective for the type of communication you need to engage in.

Don't invite unnecessary staff members.

Too many unnecessary people in a meeting drive up costs and lowers productivity. Each employee in the meeting is losing valuable work time back at their desks, and more mouths at a meeting slows the pace. Decide ahead of time who needs to attend to voice their thoughts and ideas, and simply send everyone else a copy of the minutes or important decisions afterwards.

Make the purpose of the meeting clear in the meeting invite.

If there isn't an identifiable purpose for holding a meeting, there shouldn't be a meeting. Make sure the attendees know what the meeting is about when you send the invite. At the beginning of the session, state the purpose again, and stick to the issues that directly relate to that single purpose. If other issues arise during the meeting that need to be addressed, make note of those and schedule a time to handle those later.

Set a time limit for the meeting and stick to it.

Open-ended meetings are an invitation to waste time and stray off topic. By setting the meeting length, you force the group to address the meeting's main purpose and stay on track with discussion, debate and questions. For many topics, 30 minutes is enough time to state the purpose of the meeting, hear everyone's opinions, come to a decision and adjourn.

Wrap up with what was discussed, resolved and needs to be done next.

Each meeting should conclude with a recap of what was covered, what decisions were made and what further action needs to be taken on the matter. This helps everyone remember what was discussed and identify what they need to do next. If another meeting is needed after participants take action on the matter, schedule a follow-up meeting at the end of the meeting or soon after so everyone can get the meeting on their calendars.

Remember, when planned well and kept on track, meetings can again become a productive part of office life!

Want more career tips? Check out the 5 Habits of Successful Professionals and 6 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Presentation Skills.

Interested in building your career? Explore our programs in the Graduate School of Business and Management.

The Psychology and Science of Tradition & Ritual

by Argosy University 1 July 2014

Human beings are hyper-social animals, often coming together through shared practices, traditions and rituals to form a social glue that binds groups within our society. Even families — the most fundamental social group — benefit from the cohesion of rituals and traditions.

Traditions throughout History

Traditional parade

Back when families had to band together in communities for protection and division of labor, traditions and rituals contributed to overall prosperity and allegiance to the group. Today, traditions like standing for the National Anthem, observing national holidays, or obeying traffic laws also have obvious unifying and practical benefits. Human cultures have always relied on traditions to govern, to establish shared, standard behavior, and to keep society running on a more or less even kilter.

Rituals have also been defined as the outward demonstration of inward value, and religious traditions and rituals can serve to recognize an individual’s place in the cosmos — from birth, to marriage, to receiving last rites. Within religious groups, many rituals are seen as timeless and unite the faithful across many generations.

Family Traditions

Much research has shown that traditions and ritual have psychological benefits within family life. Yet, are family rituals a sign of an already strong family, or do they play an important role in adding strength to the family? Maybe the answer is yes to both sides of the question.

Either way, family rituals--from daily dinners around the table to annual road trips--can help families bond and form a strong group identity, increasing each individual member's sense of belonging to the family unit and their culture at large. Family values and beliefs are also often transmitted through these rituals, perhaps even without your realizing what is happening. Furthermore, traditions can promote a child's positive emotional development and help children cope by providing them with a trusted foundation of stability that remains throughout new social situations and difficult times in their lives.

Benefits of Traditions and Rituals

Even in modern times, rituals still have intrinsic value to offer to societies. For example, according to Scientific American researchers have found that:

- Rituals performed after experiencing loss (whether it's losing a game or something much more serious like losing a loved one) can help to alleviate grief. Funerals and wakes help the bereaved cope with death. Tearing up a losing lottery ticket helps the unlucky player move on.

- Rituals performed before stressful tasks actually reduce anxiety and increase confidence. The major league batter who pulls up his socks, adjusts his batting grip and makes the sign of the cross before stepping up to the plate is performing but one example of many sports rituals that verge on superstition.

Rituals even appear to benefit those who claim not to believe in their importance. Don’t ask Michael Jordan why he wore his North Carolina sports shorts beneath his Chicago Bulls garb – or if he believed that ritual made him an outstanding player. Tomorrow, as you go through your day, take a moment to think about what rituals you follow, why you follow them, and how they might just be helping you!

Interested in the fields of psychology and behavioral sciences? Explore our programs today!