Ok – so last week I got off on a tangent. My original goal was to share with you some ACTUAL data on geek students. This past academic year, we began the process to try and determine what our “geek” population was here in the Residence Hall at Fresno State. Ryan and I (and others) have discussed that different campuses have varying student populations of “geeks.” Carnegie Mellon probably has a much higher percentage of geeks than we do here at Fresno State. But I would say that Fresno State is probably a “typical” public University – and probably would be relatable for other Universities as well.
So – here’s what we did. When our residents moved into our Residence Halls in August, we did an online survey of all 1100 of them (approximate). We got a return rate of 458 (41.6%). Then in November we did ANOTHER survey of our residents and received 369 back (33.5%). We asked the following two questions related to geek culture, among many other questions:
- How Strongly do you identify with being a part of the geek culture? (interested in pop-culture, science fiction, fantasy, comic-books, super heroes, gaming, etc)? (Scale of 1-7, 1 being not at all, 7 being “it’s who I am”)
- What is your perspective of “geek” culture or being a geek (interested in pop-culture, science fiction, fantasy, comic-books, super heroes, gaming, etc)? (scale of 1-7 with 1 being extremely negative to 7 being extremely positive)
Here is what we found:
In terms of “geek identity” – 31.9% of the students identified as a geek in some way (answering 5,6, or 7) and 46.8% answering they really didn’t (answering 1,2, or 3) when they moved in. Towards the END of the semester, 37.9% answered 5,6, or 7, and 41.3% answered 1,2 or 3. Also, the mean score was 3.55 at move in and 3.8 at the end of the semester. That means residents tended to move in the direction of identifying more with the geek identity as they lived with us. The number of students who answered “It is who I am” went from 6.9% at move in to 12.9% at the end of the semester.
For other identity markers (we asked the same question of identity as it related to Race, Religion, Gender, Politics, and Sports) they ALSO increased, but geek was the most significant increase. Also, the mean of identity for geeks rose by the most percentage as well, compared to the increases in all other identities. Politics was the only identity that decreased in mean.
In terms of “geek” perspective, at move in, residents scored it at 4.64 on the 7 point scale. (9.2% saying extremely positive and 2.1% extremely negative). Towards the end of the semester – check this out – the mean rose to 4.86 but 20.4% answered “extremely positive” while only 2.2% rated it “extremely negative.”
We also crosstabbed the results to see if there were differences between males and females.
How Much Do You Identify As a Geek?
How Strongly do you identify with being a part of the geek culture? (interested in pop-culture, science fiction, fantasy, comic-books, super heroes, gaming, etc)? (Scale of 1-7, 1 being not at all, 7 being “it’s who I am”)
Move In: Male mean 3.8, Female mean 3.44
End of Semster: Male mean 4.48, female mean 4.73
It’s who I am:
Move In: 6.5% of males, 7.3% of females
End of Semester: 16.1% of males, 11% of females
Did Not Identify as a geek at all (Answered 1):
Move In: 13.5% of males, 20.8% of females
End of Semester: 16.1% of males, 23.7% of females
Perspective of geek culture:
What is your perspective of “geek” culture or being a geek (interested in pop-culture, science fiction, fantasy, comic-books, super heroes, gaming, etc)? (scale of 1-7 with 1 being extremely negative to 7 being extremely positive)
Extremely negative (1):
Move In: 3.8% of males, 1.1% of females
End of Semester: 2.9% of males, 1.8% of females
So what does this mean? More research needs to be done, but even at a public University there is a significant geek culture, and that can increase while they are here. Also, there are definitely differences between male and female “geeks.” It seems that maybe in high school females are more comfortable with identifying as geeks (7.3% of females answered it’s who I am when they moved in compared to 6.5% of males) but after a semester at college, the environment may open up males to identify with being a geek (10% increase in men answering “it’s who I am” compared to a 4% increase for women). This is meted out in the perspective on geek culture. For women, their perspective of geek culture didn’t really change over the semester (4.73 for move in, 4.8 at the end of the semester). Men’s perspectives seemed to change significantly (4.48 at the beginning of the semester, 4.95 at the end). We will continue asking these questions to see if trends develop here at Fresno State. I would love for you to include the same questions above on any general surveys your campus does and report back the results. With surveymonkey now, these questions are easy to ask.
So – all this to say – maybe we need a term to determine a college’s “geek quotient” and use the “move in” mean and “end of fall semester” mean to measure it. Maybe use the End of semester mean and the increase(or decrease) from move in. For Fresno State, our quotient for this year was 3.8(+.25). This would let the reader know how much we (as a Residence Hall) identify with geeks, and what kind of environment exists and whether it is nurturing of “geekness” or not. Wonder what other campuses would have as their “geek quotient?”
Would love your thoughts – or if you want to know more, please let me know!