The Use Samples in Academic Research Section Overview Many research studies are conducted using college as part or whole of thesample tested. Researchers often claim that college students are a heterogeneous group and represent all groups in society since they come from different backgrounds, have different interests and partake in different activities. Yet a deeper analysis shows that this is not really so. Analysis of data collected on college students has been compared to data collected on non-student groups; and it is evident that there are a number of differences in these two groups.
Blair and Zinkhan (2006) have discussed the lack of comparability in these groups. According to them, it is difficult to generalize to the general population when the research is conducted on students, as many aspects of behavior associated with the workplace and marketing differ distinctly between groups; and college students are not the best representatives of all the possible target groups. Barr and Hitt (1986) have also found that it is not possible to generalize findings about employee selection behavior and managerial decisions when the studies are based on student samples.
Many managerial choices were found to be distinct from the student sample to which they were compared, showing that the most representative information about practicing managerial roles can only be collected from organizational samples. Randall and Gibson (1990) have outlined a number of factors that reduce the generalisablity of business ethics studies; and the use of student samples is high among the areas of concern. It is important to review whether this trend also affects research conducted about how managers respond to stressful situations in the workplace.
Although people do prepare for risky situations and are trained in how to behave under stress; many people do not find themselves capable of using this training when an unexpected event occurs. Many studies about how people respond to crises or how people respond to threatening situations are conducted in laboratory settings and often with college students. The findings based on these student samples are also used as a basis for developing training modules and crisis intervention programs for managers. If student samples are not capable of accurately representing organizational behavior, it is important to know this before using data collected on students.
Thus, it is important to evaluate if managers and college students respond to these situations in a similar manner. Objectives In order to understand the extent to which student samples are able to help us understand managers’ behaviors under duress, it is important to study and compare these two groups thoroughly. Objectives for such studies would be: Compare the type of responses managers give to emergency situations and the responses provided by college students. Compare how managers and student samples react to interpersonal crises. Compare how managers and student samples respond to risk situations like fires / bomb threats and other dangerous situations. By comparing the responses of these groups in an objective manner, it is possible to know if the response patterns are the same or whether they are different.
It is also possible to evaluate what other variables are playing a role in these issues, e.g. , experience, training, age and other factors. Approach to Research Although the most accurate ways of testing these situations would be to use simulations, it is unethical to expose a person to a threatening situation that can cause damage of life or could cause psychological distress.
Thus, it would not be possible to simulate difficult situations without making it evident that it is a simulation. It is also not possible to collect all the required data in retrospect as threatening incidents are not a common everyday occurrence and people’s perception of the situation can change after the event. Thus, it may be viable to employ traditional research methods used to study decision making, but applying more realistic and threat filled situations as the stimuli.
If the participant is given less time to respond to the questions asked, they are less likely to make up an answer or choose what would “make them look good”, and will give honest responses. The study should also follow methods to keep the data secure and protect the participant’s anonymity so that these participants – both students and managers – are encouraged to provide realistic and authentic data. All participants should be provided with different difficult situations to which there are multiple responses possible, and there is no direct clue to what would be the most appropriate response.
The choices made by the participants and the reasons for these choices should be compared for students and managers to see where there are similarities and where there are differences in their responses. Section 2 Critique of Academic Sources Most researchers use student samples since they are easily available and are easy to contact and to collect data from. Students are also well versed with responding to different questionnaires and thus, are able to provide more and better quality data.
But there is concern about how applicable the findings of such research are to the rest of the population. Many researchers have used strong techniques to evaluate the efficacy of student samples when trying to generalize to the population. One example is of Paterson (2001) who has conducted a meta analysis of the data collected through meta-analyses for a number of studies. He has collected the data derived from different meta analyses of individual studies, and has compared them to draw trends and evaluate the consistency of the meta analyses.
He found that college students as a group are more homogenous than non student groups and that the effect sizes of the statistics conducted on data of the two groups was also different. The effect sizes were not only different in their magnitude (or size) but also in the direction of the effect seen. Thus, their conclusion is that there are differences, but there is no guarantee as to which direction these differences will be in. Thus, according to Peterson, it is important to use students as participants, but it is also important to replicate the studies in the real world.
The main issue with this study is that the data is very second hand, and there is no way of checking for errors or for its accuracy due to this. A study conducted by Byun et al. (2009) also raised many questions. Although the data was on Internet addiction, the same questions may be asked of data in any field. One of the main questions is how appropriate the samples of students are when the questions asked concern many groups of people.
They point out that it is important to understand the demographic they want to generalize to before choosing student participants. They also point out that using only students can limit the scope of the phenomenon being studied, and the definitions developed for the phenomenon. This paper does not describe its methodology in detail and takes more time to discuss the implications of the issues raised, and uses different studies as examples to illustrate a point. It is focused on a single issue, and this helps in understanding the way data collection and analyses can affect the perception of the topic. On the other hand, some researchers like Marchioro and Ryan (2010) feel that it is not wrong to sue student samples when appropriate; and the issue is rather of indiscriminate use of student samples.
They provide an example of how using multiple methods of data collection and using student sample can help in evaluating the ways in which the students understood and addressed the business problem that they were exposed to. The study was able to document the experiences and the learning patterns of participants who were carefully chosen so that the analyses could be generalized.
It is important to note that the researchers wish to specify the situations to which the conclusions could be applied, and do not believe that the data could be generalized indiscriminately. References Blair, E., & Zinkhan, G. (2006). Nonresponse and generalizability in academic research. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34(1), 4-7. Doi: 10.1177/0092070305283778 Barr, S.H. , & Hitt, M.A. (1986). A comparison of selection decision models in manager versus student samples.
Personnel Psychology, 39(3), 599-617. Byun, S., Ruffini, C., Mills, J. E., Douglas, A.C. , Niang, M., Stepchenkova, S., Lee, S.K. , Loutfi, J., Lee, J.K. , Atallah, M., & Blanton, M. (2009). Internet addiction: Metasynthesis of 1996–2006 quantitative research. Cyber Psychology and Behavior, 12(2), 203-207. Marchioro, G., & Ryan, M. (2010). Multi research methods using captive respondents. In Esteves, J. (ed. ), Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Research Methods in Business and Management: IE Business School Madrid, Spain, 24-25 (pp. 303-309). Madrid: Academic Conferences Limited. Peterson, R.A. (2001). On the use of college students in social science research: Insights from a second order meta-analysis.
Journal of Consumer Research, 28, 450-461. Randall, D. M., & Gibson, A. M. (1990). Methodology in business ethics research: A review and critical assessment. Journal of Business Ethics, 9(6), 457-471. Doi: 10.1007/BF00382838