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Survey size insufficient polling for campus size

I am writing in regards to the article titled “Faking It” that appeared in the Monday, March 28, issue. The tagline states that “3 student reporters investigate the prevalence of fake IDs on Drake’s campus and where students are getting them.” I take issue with the prevalence portion. It is my understanding that prevalence refers to the extent or widespread use of something. How can a survey of only 37 first-year students possibly give any indication of the widespread use of fake IDs on campus? As of the beginning of the fall semester, there were 864 first-year students at Drake.

A survey of 37 is only reaching 4.3 percent of the total first-year population. While I realize that reaching all the students is not feasible, I find the small sample size completely inadequate to attempt to draw conclusions. The authors do state the sample size several times throughout the article but they bold and draw attention to the statistics based on the small sample size. This can be very misleading. For example, if one happened to miss the sample size, they might believe that 90 percent of first-year male students have a fake ID. It is very improbable that the results of 37 students would track exactly with the whole population. I doubt the number is not even close to 90 percent. In conclusion, the authors either needed to draw more attention to the miniscule portion of the first-year students sampled or have used a much larger survey to avoid misleading readers.

Ethan Hillestad



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1 Comment

  1. student April 3, 2011

    Surveys in the TD isn’t the only time campus is misrepresented. It happens everywhere, including in boardrooms in our Student Senate and Residence Hall Association.

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