ERIC Number: ED446687
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Nov-17
Studying Student Culture via the Internet. ASHE Annual Meeting Paper.
Kinser, Kevin; Mueller, John A.; Brownell, Jayne E.
This paper describes the attempt to use the Internet to study a particular student culture. The goal is to highlight the ethical and procedural issues encountered in the Internet study of an online student culture. The primary purpose of the study was to examine how closeted gay students experience their identity on campus and in an online environment. Other than the invitation to participate, no messages were sent to chat rooms and no conversations or discussions were initiated in the public forums. Researchers only responded to inquiries that were directed to them privately, and were careful to follow the community guidelines for chat rooms they entered. Ultimately 13 individuals consented to participate in the study, and 7 agreed to be interviewed online. In addition to the formal data collection, researchers engaged in more than 100 exchanges with potential participants. The research application was readily accepted by the college's institutional review board. Several technical problems were evident, especially with regard to Internet access. A positive aspect of the research was that costs for data collection were minimal. The greatest benefit of the approach was that the participants' anonymity was virtually assured. It also appears that the anonymous culture of the Internet caused many dropouts and no-shows among those the researchers expected to participate. The researchers thought that they were not altogether successful in negotiating the Internet culture, and they recognized some problems with reliability and validity. They did attract respondents from 11 different states and at least that many institutions, and they thought the study made a real contribution to knowledge about closeted gay students on campus. (Contains 12 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) (Sacramento, CA, November 16-19, 2000).