Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Downgraded to Orange or even Green

I have been trying to go to bed at 9:30 or even 9:00 lately, but have been failing miserably the past few nights. For one thing, TheLimey has been out of town, which makes it much easier to put off going to bed "just for a little while" (repeatedly) until I suddenly realize it's 11:30 or even 12:00. That's icky when I'm getting up at 5:45.

Last night took the proverbial cake, though, as I didn't drag my behind into the sack until 2:10. This was because I had begun the small and innocuous project of listing the names of the 184 students who had participated in my study so that I could inform their respective professors that they did the extra credit work.

What I discovered was that there were 14 more names overall on the sign-up sheets than there were completed surveys. This meant that either 14 people had signed up for extra credit who did not actually do a survey, or else that 14 very confidential surveys (with names on) had gone missing. Both meant something pretty bad, especially that second one. So I spent the night going over all the surveys and the ID sheets and cross-referencing who was there on what day and who was their professor and so forth.

(In a completely unrelated snafu, one student apparently decided that if she could get extra credit for doing the study, then she could get three times the extra credit for doing the study three times. Of course the second and third forms are spoiled and unusable data, and it's highly unlikely her prof is going to give her three times the E.C., so she basically wasted two hours and possibly also travel time.)

But once I'd accounted for all that, I still had 14 missing surveys. I desperately hoped they were simply still in my office at the department somehow. But this morning when I came in, there really were no more completed forms.

But--in a desk drawer there was a stack of the sign-in sheets I had used for my previous study two years ago for my thesis. And I remembered that when we had so many more participants this time than I anticipated, I had grabbed a couple of the old, 2003 blank sign-in sheets to use because we were short. So after combing through my current sign-in sheets and the database, I finally determined that nearly all the students' names associated with "missing" surveys were on one particular sign-up sheet of the old format.


I had grabbed one already filled-out form from 2003 with the blank ones, and it had gotten mixed up with the newly filled-out sign-in forms from this year. The few names that were not on that sheet? PEBKAC. When I went through the stack again, they were there after all. (My accuracy suffers considerably after 10:00 or 11:00 pm.)


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