Taking-Risks While Driving: Are there Sex Differences
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.
In this laboratory exercise, students carry out a naturalistic observation study in order to test the hypothesis that there are sex differences in risk-taking. The students are asked to consider whether men and women might differ in the frequency with which they engage in this risky behavior. The laboratory instructor explains that the question can be answered empirically using a naturalistic observation. The students are then asked to develop an operational definition of "using a cell phone while driving." A very strict set of guidelines are developed so that students will be able to make naturalistic observations without much doubt about whether the observed event counts or does not count as the target event. Students then leave the lab in pairs and observe slow-moving traffic on and around campus. The observations are carried out for 30 minutes. At the next laboratory session, they analyze the data using the Chi-Square Test of Independence and learn how to report the statistic and summary data table in APA style.
For the following laboratory meeting, students prepare a research report using APA style. In doing so, they prepare a brief literature review, method section, results section, brief general discussion, reference list, and at least one table or figure.
Context for Use
The exercise can be carried out across two class meetings with 30-50 minutes or so in each class. The exercise could be used for large classes if the instructor has assistance quickly pooling the data in time for the next class. However, it is also not necessary that the second discussion of the data occur at the next course.