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University of Iowa
UI UNDERGRAUATE STUDENTS’ OPINIONS TOWARD THE PARKING SITUATION ON CAMPUS
Final Report
Lauren Baker, Kristin Skoglund, Brittany Caplin, Colleen Kennedy, Rosaline Sixby, Kelly O’Neill, Jordan Taylor, Melissa Payne, Beth Wendling, and Kathleen Graham
5/4/2010

Research Purpose

The purpose of this project was for our group to conduct a probability-sampling survey of the undergraduate students at the University of Iowa.  When trying to determine a topic, each member in our group knew that we wanted to choose a topic that would be important and useful for the future of our campus.  We ultimately decided that we wanted to interview freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior students to gain insight on their thoughts and opinions towards UI’s parking situation.  We chose this topic because as students of this university, we have all been impacted by the availability and convenience of parking there is around campus.  Each of us have experienced countless amounts of times where we had a need for parking whether we were going to class, running errands, going out to eat, etc.  Based on our own experiences, we knew that this topic was significant because not only has the parking situation affected each of us, but also we were certain that it has most likely affected every member of UI’s student body at one point in time.

Our group made two hypothesizes regarding what the undergraduate students’ overall feelings toward UI’s parking situation would be.  First, we predicted that since many freshmen do not drive as often as most sophomores, juniors, and seniors, they would not view parking as an important issue on campus.  Second, we thought that students who had a car at school would consider parking as a larger issue than students who did not have a car at school.  Before beginning our research, our group tried finding other existing studies similar to ours to compare their research method and hypothesizes to ours.  Unfortunately, no one in our group could find any other studies that surveyed students regarding the parking situations at their university.  Nevertheless, we did find a website called College Prowler that surveys thousands of students at various universities each year in order to get their opinions on what life is like on campus.  Each student surveyed is asked a variety of questions regarding their school’s academics, athletics, campus housing, and parking.  After every student completes the survey, they are awarded an entry into College Prowler’s $1000 Monthly Survey Scholarship.  Students can earn additional entries into the scholarship drawing by referring their friends to take the survey.  Moreover, College Prowler’s survey found that UI students ranked parking as the number one complaint on campus.  At Indiana University, the results to their survey showed that parking is viewed as an important issue on their campus as well.  Students’ responses from the survey indicated that not only are there limited parking spots around campus, but also the “zones” that indicate where students and faculty are allowed to park are extremely confusing.  In addition, the results from the survey taken at Michigan University proved that students also view parking as a large problem on their campus.  The student’s responses from the survey claimed that not only are there limited spots around campus for students to park, but also that the university’s parking permits are expensive.  Moreover, College Prowler showed our group that not only is the parking situation viewed as an important issue on the University of Iowa’s campus, but also on many other college campuses across the country.

Overall, we believe that our survey research will lead us to the conclusion that the undergraduate students at the University of Iowa have overwhelmingly negative views about the parking situation around campus.  We also hope that throughout our research, we will be able to discover potential solutions to this significant problem based upon what the most frequent complaints are from UI students.  Moreover, our group hopes that the University of Iowa Parking and Transportation department will take the information we collect into consideration when they are considering any changes or alternatives to the parking situation around campus.  It is our hope that this research will provide a foundation for the improvement to campus-wide parking options.

Questionnaire

The first draft of our survey consisted on 20 questions, but they were not focused on a specific topic.  For example, one of our questions asked students about their satisfaction with parking near their home or work.  After meeting with Yao, our group realized that we were not concerned about students’ satisfaction with parking options near their home or work.  Instead, our group wanted their opinions about parking around campus.  In addition, our group did not specify what was considered on and off campus and students could have been mistaken between the two.  “Home” and “off-campus” are both relative terms that could apply to many different areas.  Our group later decided that if we took the time to clarify every location that we considered to be “on” and “off” campus, our survey would be too long and the respondents would most likely lose interest quickly.  Therefore, we removed many questions about parking near home or off campus because we needed more analytical and focused questions.

Our final questionnaire that we came up with after meeting with Yao was an online survey that consisted of 20 questions that allowed us to gauge the approval of on campus parking for University of Iowa undergraduate students.  The area we defined as “on campus parking” consisted of downtown Iowa City, which included all of the bars and shops along the streets of Clinton, Dubuque, Washington, and Iowa. The streets by major University of Iowa buildings where most classes are held were included as well.  This includes areas from Clinton to the Field House on the other side of the river.

The first two questions our group decided to use are demographic ones, which are close ended questions.  This was because one of the hypotheses was predicting that freshman would not view parking as an important issue because most freshman do not have cars at school.  Instead, they rely on the cambus to pick up and drop them off right in front of their dorms, classes, and downtown.  In order for us to best address our hypothesis, our group knew it was important to have students clarify their year in school.  We also asked whether the respondents were male or female in hopes that it was an even response rate for comparison at the end of the survey.

Question 3 was a close ended question that asked if the participant had a car.  It was important to ask how many students had a car because we wanted to know who personally experienced the parking situation. Knowing whether or not students have cars showed us how familiar they are with the parking situation.  One of our other hypotheses is that students who had a car at school would consider parking to be a larger issue than students who do not have a car at school. In order to prove this hypothesis, we needed a direct question.

Questions 4 and 5 were both close ended questions that addressed where and how often the individuals park.  These questions would help us understand how dependent students were on their cars and if there was one area on campus that the majority of students were driving such as to their classes or the gym.  Their responses to these questions would help clarify if they were biased towards one area of campus or another popular spot downtown.

Questions 6 through 9 helped us to determine where students park when they go to class or downtown and also how they rate their satisfaction with that parking area.  We wanted these questions to ask about students’ satisfaction about the specific parking area that we chose to do our survey about.  Questions 6 and 8 ask the participants to check all the options that apply to them.  We did this format instead of just a close ended question because depending on where the student’s class is located or where they’re headed downtown, there are different types of parking availability that students would use more than others.  Ranking on a scale of 1-5 was easy to analyze and didn’t give the participants too many choices to describe their satisfaction.  On our previous survey, we used a scale of 1-10 which was difficult because there were too many choices.  Even we didn’t know the distinction between a 7 or 8.  A scale of 1-10 was too broad and it would have been difficult for participants to pinpoint their opinions and even more difficult for us to interpret what they meant.

Question 10 was extremely important because that would help us determine solutions that we asked for later in our survey.  If we knew which payment method was the most successful, it would help us draw conclusions about implementing more meters or parking ramps with a different type of payment that was more popular among students.

Question 11 was another way to discuss the problems and dissatisfaction with parking on campus.  If most students receive parking tickets more than once a month, then they would more likely be dissatisfied with parking.  If most students who took our survey received tickets frequently, then receiving tickets might be a reason why they are dissatisfied with parking overall.

Questions 12 and 13 were close-ended questions with yes or no answers.  Question 12 helped us determine if being towed was a bigger issue than being ticketed for student drivers, or if towing was even a problem at all.  Question 13 highlighted the inconvenience that students have faced while trying to park.  If finding a parking space was affecting a students’ ability to get to class on time, then this is a major problem that the university should address.  This again is another indication of dissatisfaction among our polling sample and would help us gain a better sense of how much of a problem parking is around campus.

Question 14 was a rating scale question that was used to determine the fairness of the ticketing and towing policies among campus.  If people feel that they are receiving multiple tickets for one period of being parked in the same spot or are ticketed enough that they will be towed, they might view the policies as unfair.  If most students view these policies as unfair then they are going to be dissatisfied with parking and start looking for a new possibility for parking.

Question 15 was used to demonstrate overall how students felt about the parking situation.  Just because students received tickets or couldn’t find a place to park does not mean that they are unsatisfied with parking.  This question had very clear wording that would help us understand how students felt about parking.  It was also a good way to lead into our next series of questions which dealt with possible solutions to implement new policies.  This question concluded the part of our survey where we asked about students’ opinions about the current parking situation.

Questions 16 through 19 are all realistic possibilities for future solutions.  Members of our group brainstormed solutions and asked our friends as well as other students in our classes about parking on campus and came up with four possible solutions.  There has been a lot of conversation about charging parking fees to students’ credit card or U-bill instead of only having the coin operated meters. University officials believe this will be the norm for all meters within a couple of years.  Since most students used meter parking according to our results, we thought that this solution is not only highly probable to be implemented but it is also a popular solution among students.  Another possibility we thought of was having a pre-paid student only parking facility.  This solution would have worked well to ensure that students would always have a spot to park and therefore not waste time looking for one and being late to class.  We wanted to rate the students’ interests in these solutions and see if they thought that they could be effective, convenient, and help their own parking problems.

Question 20 was the only open ended question that we had throughout our survey.  This let our respondents brainstorm their own solutions to the parking problem.  It’s good to conclude our survey with an open-ended question because it gave students the freedom to express their opinions and feelings about parking solutions more in-depth and in their own words.  We hoped to find some new and interesting solutions from students’ responses.

Overall we think our survey was highly successful.  It was focused to a specific area, downtown and classes, which all University of Iowa students could recognize and identify with.    We used different types of questions including open ended, close ended and rating scales that helped us determined how significant this problem was to the students.  It was short enough where no student would get bored or side tracked while taking it yet long enough to help us prove our hypotheses.

Sampling and Survey Administration

For our parking survey, we utilized the WebSurveyor to distribute and analyze our survey.  The sampling method we used was systematic random sampling.  This means we started with a randomly drawn starting point and from there selected every nth element to participate in the sample.  Systematic random sampling is a form of probability sampling.  Probability sampling is when the participants are chosen according to mathematical guidelines whereby each unit’s chance for selection is known so the sampling error can be calculated when the survey has been completed.

There are several advantages associated with utilizing systematic random sampling.  The first one is that selection was very easy; also, this type of survey tends to be more accurate than simple random sampling.  Finally, this method was inexpensive.  However, there was also a disadvantage that came with using systematic random sampling.  This disadvantage was that it was more difficult to find a comprehensive sampling frame at first.

Our total sampling frame consisted of 30,000 University of Iowa undergraduates.  We acquired a list of names within the University of Iowa “Hawkmail” list of contacts.  This list included contact information for all people associated with the university, including professors, graduate students, university programs and undergraduate students.  From that list, we had to systematically go through and select only the undergraduate students.  Within the sampling frame, our sample contained 1,100 subjects that were all undergraduate students at the University of Iowa.  For our purposes, we started on element number five (5) and selected every 27th name from our sampling frame.  All of this information was needed in order for us to accurately calculate the sampling interval.

The formula for the sampling interval is I = N/n, where “I” is the sampling interval, “N” is the total number of elements in the sampling frame and “n” is the number of participants in the actual sample itself.  Therefore, our sampling interval was calculated in the following manner: I = 30,000 / 1,100 = 27.3.  Our sampling interval was 27.3, which proves that we systematically selected every 27th name on our list.

After our sample had been compiled through systematic random sampling, we uploaded the questions separately onto WebSurveyor.  WebSurveyor is an online database that is used to create polls and/or surveys, and it’s available to members of the University of Iowa if you acquire an account through Information Technology Services (ITS).  Once we received a username and password, we were able to manipulate WebSurveyor for our purposes.  We uploaded an existing Microsoft Excel document that contained our sample of 1,100 units.

After the sample had been successfully uploaded, we wrote a short introductory paragraph.  In this paragraph we explained what the survey was about and how the subject had been randomly selected.  We also explained that the survey would not take very long and would be very beneficial for our study.  We did this to maximize the number of survey responses we would get.  We then sent out the survey to the units through their university email addresses.  We chose one of our group member’s email addresses to use as the sender for our survey.

We originally thought that we would have to send out three different “waves” of our survey.  Waves are the number of times a survey is sent out to the same sample.  Fortunately, we only had to send out one wave.  In our first wave, we received 307 responses – a number much higher than the required 200 responses.  The last response we received before stopping the survey was on April 22, 2010 at 5:30 PM.  Obviously, our great success rate shows that our feedback was very high.

Data Analysis

Overall we believe our survey was highly successful.  It was focused to a specific area, downtown and classes, which all University of Iowa students could recognize and identify with. We used different types of questions including open ended, close ended and rating scales that helped us determined how significant this problem was to the students.

Out of the 301 respondents we received, 123 were male and 178 were female.  Therefore, 40.9% of the respondents were male and 59.1% of the respondents were female, giving us a well balanced ratio of male to female.  As you can see by our graph, we also had a fairly equal representation of year in school, with 29.2% seniors, 29.2% juniors, 23.9% sophomores, and 17.6% freshmen.  As a result, we believe our survey accurately portrays the student population at the University of Iowa.

81.4% of our respondents have a car at school, whereas only 18.9% did not have a car. Therefore, the results accurately portray the ideals of students who deal with parking at the University of Iowa on a daily basis.  According to our survey, the highest percentage of students (27.6%) drives their car at least 4-6 times per week while, 15.9% of students drive more than 10 times per week.  Only 14.3% of students drive their car less than once a week.  Since our survey tells us that 55.8% of students drive their car over 4 times per week, we are able to conclude that parking is a prevalent issue to be looked into at the University of Iowa.
Question number 6 gave us insight as to where students park their cars when they go to class.  We were interested to find that 81.3% of students park in parking spots that cost money, 16.8% park in city ramps, 31.9% park in university ramps, and 32.6% park in meters on the street.  The results from question 6 coincide with our next question, which was to rate your satisfaction with the availability of parking near your classes.

Our results indicate that over 70% of our respondents are unsatisfied with the parking availability near their classes, and 40.4% of the 70% indicated that they were highly unsatisfied.  Only 3.5% of students reported being satisfied with the parking availability.  Our group believes one of the reasons for the large percentage of unsatisfied students was that 81% of our survey respondents responded having been late to class due to the lack of parking on campus.
Although students are dissatisfied with the current parking options at the University of Iowa, 54% of our survey respondents believe that implementing credit card capability for parking options in the City of Iowa City and University of Iowa would improve the parking situation in Iowa City.  However, 20.6% believe that credit card capabilities would provide no improvement at all.  Similarly, 26.5% of respondents do not think that having the ability to U-Bill their parking fees would improve their opinion of the parking situation, and 43% believe it would.

In our first cross-tabulation test, we measured the significance between male and female satisfaction with on campus parking. Our data produced a p-value of 0.136, and therefore proves that there is no significant difference between male and female satisfaction with on campus parking. We know this because 0. 136 is greater than .05.

In our second cross tabulation test, we measured the significance between year in school and satisfaction with on campus parking. For this test, our data produced a p-value of .007, which is less than .05 and therefore proves that there is a significant relationship between the respondent’s year in school and his or her satisfaction with on campus parking. According to the cross tabulation chart the only generalization we are able to make about this relationship is that senior students at the University of Iowa are generally more satisfied with on campus parking. This conclusion can be made due to the fact that the Expected count was 5.8; however, the observed count was 12. The Adjusted Residual was 3.1, greater than two; therefore the generalization can be made.

The bolded cell below illustrates the observed count and expected count relationship.

Year in School Highly

Unsatisfied

Unsatisfied Neutral Satisfied Highly Satisfied
Freshmen

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

16

20.4

-1.4

17

17

.0

8

7.7

.1

1

3.5

-1.5

4

1.8

1.9

Sophomore

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

32

26.9

1.4

17

22.5

-1.6

15

10.2

1.9

3

4.6

-.9

2

2.3

-.2

Junior

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

36

34.2

.5

30

28.6

.4

12

13

-.3

4

5.9

-1.0

1

2.9

-1.4

Senior

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

31

33.8

-.7

31

33.8

-.7

9

12.8

-1.4

12

5.8

3.1

3

2.9

.1

In our third cross-tabulation test, we measured the significance between the respondent’s year in school and whether or not they have a car at school. Our data produced a p-value of .000, again, below .05, and therefore proves that there is a significant relationship between year in school and having a car. Based on our cross-tabulation chart, three generalizations about students at the University of Iowa can be made. First of all, freshmen are more likely to not have a car at school. Secondly, juniors are more likely to have a car at school, and thirdly, seniors are also more likely to have a car at school.  These conclusions can be made, because in all three cases the observed count is greater than the expected count and the adjusted residual is above two.

The bolded cells below illustrate the observed count and expected count relationship.

Year in School Owns a Car at school Does not own a car at school
Freshmen

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

29

9.8

7.5

24

43

-7.3

Sophomore

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

13

13

.0

57

56.8

.1

Junior

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

10

16.5

-2.1

79

72.2

2.2

Senior

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

4

16.3

-4.0

84

71.4

41.

In our fourth cross-tabulation test, we measured the significance between whether or not difficulty finding parking has made the respondent late for class, and the respondent’s satisfaction with parking on campus. Our data produced a p-value of .000 and therefore proves there is a significant relationship between the two. According to our cross-tabulation chart, the generalization can be made that respondents who have been late to class due to parking situations are more likely to be highly unsatisfied with parking on campus. This conclusion can be drawn because the observed count was 98 and the expected count was 89.9 for respondents who answered yes to the independent variable and highly unsatisfied for the dependent variable. Also, the adjusted residual was 2.3, which is greater than 2.

Has difficulty finding parking made you late for class? Highly

Unsatisfied

Unsatisfied Neutral Satisfied Highly Satisfied
No

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

17

21.1

-1.3

18

17.7

.1

7

8.0

-.4

4

3.6

.2

4

1.8

1.8

Yes

Observed Count

Expected Count

Adjusted Residual

98

89.9

2.3

78

75.2

.8

36

34.1

.7

16

15.5

.3

6

7.7

-.3

Discussion and Conclusion

The results of this survey show that many undergraduate students are affected negatively by the parking situation on the University of Iowa campus and in downtown Iowa City.  According to the students who participated in this survey, the amount of money spent on having the ability to park, as well as parking tickets and other related fees seems highly unreasonable.

The lack of parking around campus is an unnecessary added stress to students who already have to deal with the high cost of the University of Iowa education and the expense of being an Iowa City resident. Not only is it a burden, but it could possibly contribute to tardiness to class, which could result in the decline of grades, or tardiness to those who work, which could result in penalty.

In hopes to improve the parking situation around campus, participants were asked to rate various future parking options on how effective of a solution they would be.  These future options include creating a pre-paid student-only ramp, being able to charge parking fees to the U-Bill parking, having credit card meters, and having credit card capability at university parking ramps/lots.  Overall, students were highly in favor of these future options and though that they would help to improve their satisfaction with parking.

From gaining the insight of the thoughts and opinions toward the University of Iowa parking situation from Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors, our group was not only able to confirm our hypotheses, but we were also able to hear the frustration from the University of Iowa student body.  As the surveyors, we hope that our findings and the opinions about future parking options expressed by students will influence the University of Iowa Parking and Transportation Department when making decisions about the future of parking.

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May 5, 2010
Tricia Dean

The 2008 Smoke-Free Air Act has the obvious support of non-smokers but has still not won over the smoking population.
A survey regarding the smoking ban was conducted in a University of Iowa Communications class. This study was aimed at University of Iowa under-graduate students. A slight majority of those surveyed were male.
The results revealed that of those that “Strongly Agree” with the ban, a staggering 96.8% of them was non-smokers. With regards to smokers, the largest percent was found in the “Strongly Disagree” category.
As well, 77.1% of those surveyed listed health benefits as the greatest advantage of the Smoke-Free Air Act. On the other hand, 11.9% of those surveyed stated that the ban did not offer any benefits.
Some of the other benefits named included having a cleaner campus, offering a more appealing atmosphere, and the possibility of assisting smokers to kick the habit.
With the Smoke-Free Air Act coming up on its second birthday, it will be interesting to study the long-term effects of the smoking ban. Of those surveyed, a staggering majority considered themselves to be non-smokers. Will the ban lead to a diminishing smoking population?

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