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Critics Note Bias In CHUL Survey


A survey circulated by the Committee on House and Undergraduate Life (CHUL) to gauge student opinion on the breakfast issue suffers from biased phrasing of a key question, several CHUL representatives said yesterday.

A faculty member who specializes in survey research confirmed the student representative's opinions about the survey when he was asked to examine the questinaire yesterday.

NBC Predicts Final Vote

Controversy centers around the seventh question on the survey, where students are asked to indicate whether they prefer full breakfasts served in all Houses or a continuation of the recently instituted plan that limits to four the number of Houses serving full, hot breakfasts.

The choices are preceeded by a paragraph explaining the "advantage of having the limited breakfast." To the side of each response, a brief sentence explains the implication of adopting that choice. According to the survey, opting for hot breakfasts implies "shorter breakfast hours plus an additional charge for board" while continuing the limited breakfasts means longer hours and no increase in board rates.

Trick Question

Paul Mulkerrin '78, CHUL representative from Winthrop House, called the survey's seventh item "a biased question" because it gives the advantages of one option and the disadvantages of the other.

"There seems to be an implicit bias in question number seven," Charles M. Judd, assistant professor of psychology, said yesterday. He added that the item "clearly" implied that "limited breakfast is superior."

Joseph Savage '78, CHUL representative from Quincy House, said yesterday the question was phrased that way so respondents would understand how much hot breakfasts would cost. White most students probably favor hot breakfasts in all houses in principle, Savage said, the question asks "whether they're in favor if they have to pay for it."

Captain Crunch?

Robert J. Paley '78, a Winthrop House senior with experience in survey methodology, said yesterday that the question "should give the advantages of both sides." He added that if the question were handed in as part of a survey for a research methods course, the student would "get a C- because the question is obviously biased."

Thomas N. Prewitt '78, CHUL representative from North House, who served on the committee that drafted the survey, said yesterday the question ended up in its final form "because it was easier to understand and more concise."

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