Monday, January 4, 2010

The Journalism Experiments

Inspired by something I mentioned yesterday (The Good Samaritan Experiment--see 1/3/10 blog post), I came into school today armed with a great new group project for my Journalism class.

I explained how the Samaritan experiment was planned, and its results.

Then, my class and I brainstormed for similar experiments we might try here at school.

As usual, my students stunned me with their wit and wisdom.

"How about The Great Pastry Experiement?" A. asked. She explained that she thought it would be interesting to walk through various school hallways holding a tray of pastry (cake, cookies, cupcakes, etc.) and see how many people asked for a piece. Her hypothesis is that pastry makes previously unintroduced people extra-friendly.

She also plans to compare numbers of asks during "rush" times and slow times. Will there be fewer asks during busy hallway times? There will be more people, so the results could be telling.

Also, will an "ask" result in more friendliness later? If you ask someone you don't know for a cupcake, and that person gives you one, how will your impression of that person change? Will a relationship (even if it's just a favorable impression) result? Post-ask interviews are planned!

Other ideas raised included experiments for how people feel when they forget their re-usable shopping bags at the grocery store (and how other clientele and cashiers feel about these people).

This one hits home for me: I probably own 15 re-usable bags, but most of the time I forget many or even all of them. It's terrible, and I always feel incredibly guilty about it (but I won't buy more because I already have 15, and also because when I once went back to my car to get them, I broke my leg in the grocery store parking lot!).

We may also test out young women's changing opinion of chivalry. Is it dead? Do we sort of want (parts of) it to be dead? Should chivalry now morph into common (shared) courtesy to both genders?

Ideas, ideas. I love ideas.

I am sure there will be even more ideas tomorrow--but the point is that these are complex, and long-term, projects. Much planning and many parts will go into them.

I will post end results later!

Have a great day. It is freezing here, but I am excited to talk about ETHAN FROME later (one of my favorite novels).


  1. I love these experiment ideas. What's the plan for the grocery store one? I go through this all the time! So, how do they plan on finding out how people feel about the situation? Maybe they'll come up with better ways to remember your reusable bags ...

  2. Mary,

    We definitely need a sidebar piece for "Ways to Remember Your Re-Usable Bags." My grocery store has a sign by the entrance: "Did you remember your bags?" but after my leg-break, I won't turn around and get them, usually. It just brings back horrible memories.

    My own trick is to keep them in front seat area of car. If the bags are in the trunk, I forget them. I also sometimes just leave all of them at home in the first place...which doesn't help.

    Calls for creative ways to remember bags BEFORE you leave for the store?

    Part of the problem for me is that I end up grocery shopping without having specifically planned for it. That leads to bag-forgetting.

    Students will interview people who have paper and plastic and kindly ask what happened. They will also interview cashiers at stores that are more eco-conscious.

    If you have suggestions, do pass them on. More ideas are always welcome.

    Will post more on this when it happens.



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