Cafeteria Social Experiment

Sometimes I come up with some of the greatest ideas, I surprise myself đŸ™‚ Currently my regular English 10 class is reading the novel, Speak. The novel deals with numerous issues but one of the predominant ones is how social standings change from junior high to high school. I decided to have my students in one section conduct a social experiment concerning the school cafeteria.

Several months ago the assistant principal and I discussed what the reaction would be if we changed the set up of the cafeteria. Neither of us ever got around to actually changing things around, but we brought it up occasionally while on lunch duty. Today I decided to incorporate the idea into a social experiment for my class.

At the beginning of class, I announced that we would be doing an experiment to test how the students would be affected by rearranging an area of the school where most socialization happens. I then explained the plan–we would move the tables and chairs into a different formation and then conduct a survey of how it affected the students. I was amazed at how quickly they got excited about the idea.

We all tramped down to the cafeteria and devised a plan of rearrangement, and then the students began moving tables and chairs until they were satisfied with the appearance and functionality of the design. Returning to the classroom, I gave the students 5-10 minutes to write questions they could ask other students about the change. Then as a class, they shared their questions and I created a poll for each of them to use. We divided the students into groups based on their regularly scheduled lunches, discussed how to conduct the survey and passed out a survey to each person. At that point, I thought we were ready to go.

Then I thought about how I could incorporate mobile devices into the experiment since I had just attended a Mobile Share Fair with VSTE. I asked the students if they thought other students would like to be able to text their answer to a question from their cell phones. All of them thought that was a good idea, so I searched for a website where I could conduct a poll using cell phones. We decided to choose one question for the cell phone poll – Do you like the new set up in the cafeteria? I created the poll, created a flyer with the text options, and printed 20 copies to hang in the cafeteria. Done? Not yet.

Next I asked the students if they had ever seen or used QR codes. A few had, so they explained to the others what a QR code was and how it worked. The next step was to create a survey form using Google Docs and associate a QR code with the URL. I posted the QR code on my school blog as well as incorporated it into another flyer to hang in the cafeteria.

The students will conduct their verbal survey during lunched over the next two days. On Friday, we will accumulate the data from that survey as well as look at the results from the poll and QR survey. Final results with bar graphs attached will be posted on my school blog next week.

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