James Card

COGS2300 Cognitive Simulations

Spring 1998


Assignment 1

Topic 1.9
Do you have a hypothesis that you would like to see tested in a scientific empirical study? If so, briefly describe it.

Yes. Many office users of microcomputers spend more money than necessary to perform the primary functions the machines are used for because they want to have the latest features available. Their decisions are based more on the influence of marketing efforts of computer hardware and software companies than on a careful evaluation of their actual needs and the capabilities of existing equipment.

Topic 2.12
Suppose you wanted to know whether reading to preschool children has a positive effect on subsequent reading achievement. Do you think that it would be better to conduct an experimental or a non-experimental study? Why?

I am undecided. On one hand I want to avoid interfering in people's lives whenever possible. On the other hand, my hypothesis would be that reading to preschool children does have a positive effect and I would want as many as people as possible to have the benefit of that experience. Overall, I think I would still choose the non-experimental approach, since there are many people who already read to preschool children there would be no need to induce changes in people's behavior in order to gather the data required.

Topic 3.11
Suppose you were investigating the causes of dropping out of school in a causal-comparative study and had identified a group of dropouts to study. When identifying subjects to be in a control group, on what demographic variables would you match the dropouts and non-dropouts? Be prepared to explain the reasons for your choices.

Many variables come to mind which may have some influence on dropout rates. Some of them are: number and stability of parents/grandparents in the home, economic class, ethnic background, active participation in church/community/cultural activities, family immigration histories, participation in Head Start program, community size, school size, and school district spending per student. Some of these variables might be eliminated during the preliminary design stages by reviewing other related studies to see if anyone has already examined that factor.

Topic 4.7
Name a topic in your field of study that you might explore with a nonexperimental study. Which type of study would be most appropriate for your topic?

In typical office settings, could computers used primarily for clerical tasks be replaced by smaller, older, slower, or less expensive models and achieve a lower total cost of operation?

Topic 5.12
Name a quantitative variable of interest to you and name its categories. Are the categories mutually exclusive and exhaustive? Explain.

The total number of people who directly use each computer (not access its resources remotely) in a typical office during a month. The categories of a quantitative variable are the various values the variable could take – in this case integer values ranging from zero to an upper limit in the thousands. These values are mutually exclusive, if three people used the machine that precludes that variable from taking any value other than three. The values are exhaustive in the sense that all possible values the variable could take are accounted for.

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