You have just made your way up the steps of Doti Hall where you are scheduled for your 2:30 appointment for another research experiment. The previous day you had a reminder from your instructor about the subject-pool requirements, something that had recently slipped your mind in the chaos of midterms. You find yourself annoyed and frustrated that this survey– which has nothing to do with your class– is now taking up valuable (ahem) study time. You sit down to complete the research study and find yourself wondering about the variables, the student who gave you the study, and what is going to happen to the results. Will this time and effort fall into a black hole of data collected by the School of Communication this year? What is the point?
For those who have recently matriculated to Chapman University, welcome! Many of the courses offered at CU will test your knowledge and inspire newfound interests. For myself, and many of my peers, inspiration was found in the School of Communication. Our classes are filled with content that is immediately applicable to our daily lives. Plus, our field can be applied to numerous career opportunities from sales and media-buying to marketing, public relations, project strategy, and consulting. In truth, the options are practically endless.
However, one aspect of our beloved School of Communication that has provided angst and frustration, to more than a handful of students, is the subject-pool requirement. Why are students in 100 and 295 required to fulfill a certain amount of “research credits” in order to complete these courses?
You may roll your eyes at this… but it is for our own benefit.
The subject-pool’s purpose is to ensure that undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty are able to collect data to further our understanding of human behavior. The subject-pool allows undergraduate SoC students to actually conduct their own research– something that not a lot of undergraduates have the opportunity to do! This experience offers real data for a research project. By using the subject-pool, student work becomes more applicable to the type of research and work they will be doing after they graduate.
Moreover, without the subject pool participation, senior students cannot complete their senior project timely and efficiently. Many senior seminar sections in SCC and COM rely on the subject pool. Elyse Ruana was able to utilize the subject-pool to complete her degree in Communication Studies in the Spring of 2017. “I wish that as an underclassman, I had identified the benefits of the subject pool sooner”, she says. “….using the subject pool to collect data for my research projects, my work immediately becomes more applicable to the type of research and work I will be doing after college…..I am able to build my portfolio of work with strong research projects supported by actual data.”
The experience of collecting data and working on a real research project can build relationships with professors and further help the student in building their resume. Chapman University School of Communication students and professors have published in hundreds of academic journals and have presented at countless regional, national, and international conferences using data from the subject-pool. This important work furthers our knowledge of communication, provides experience, leads to grant funding and to recognition for our students and faculty in our community and in the field of communication. The content we are learning in our classes? That knowledge is coming directly from the research done by our own faculty and students. Of course, faculty reputation adds to our SoCs own rankings in the field of Communication and enhances Chapman’s reputation among peer institutions.
There are several different ways research can be gathered. Research designs can include focus groups, lab experiments, interactive activities, and online surveys. All the stuff we learn in COM/SCC 295? We really use it!
We research topics and issues that affect society every day, such as health communication, mass media, institutional communication and behavior, and interpersonal relationships. It’s our department’s strength. We have some of the top researchers in the field of Communication teaching at Chapman University. The subject-pool is an excellent way for these professors to help students to gain real experience that will largely contribute towards their post-graduate successes. Graduating with a portfolio complete with projects using empirical data, the subject-pool can allow students to stand out from their competition.
My advice to students who are dreading their subject-pool participation? Think of the subject-pool as a rite of passage. You are working, in 100 and 295 courses, to support current upperclassmen and you will reap the benefits in your junior and senior years. Your time and effort to complete the studies helps upperclassmen gather data necessary to complete individual studies with their instructors, senior seminar or final projects in 300 and 400 level courses. Upperclassmen need Communication students to participate, just as you will want in return someday. The practical, hands-on opportunity to conduct real, applicable research available at CU will hone your skills and prepare you for the job market. So, the next time you encounter Dr. Bevan, Dr. Dorros, Dr. Janicke, Dr. LaBelle, Dr. Miller-Day, Dr. Tukachinsky, Dr. Waldeck, or any of our amazing School of Communication faculty, be ready for an exciting adventure of looking at the world from a whole new lens! Be excited to jump into the subject-pool!
Need proof? Here are samples of research made possible by our subject-pool:
Julie Kahn (the second author) is a CU alumna who worked on this project as her independent study. The paper was presented at an international conference in Londn UK and published in a prestigious journal.
CU alumna Ari Berman was recognized by the Health Communication Division for a Top Paper award at the Western States Communication Association Conference (WSCA) in February, 2017. She completed this study using the subject-pool.