Updated: Nov 12, 2019
The Meredith Poll began its inquiries in the spring of 2015 as a way to encourage people across campus to engage with their communities and develop a wider scope of the different perspectives relevant in their local areas—often putting a focus on women’s issues. Dr. David McLennan and Dr. Whitney Manzo are professors of political science and are the Director and Assistant Director, respectively, of the Meredith Poll. They are both passionate about the impact the Poll can have on students’ skills and their success, not only at Meredith but onward into their future careers.
Students working at the Poll learn about statistical topics like sample size and margin of error, and they gain an overall greater understanding of public issues. The Poll stands alone in its unique characteristic of being the only North Carolina-based survey to focus on issues directly affecting women, and due to the support of the campus’ students and staff, Meredith College has now gathered valuable data since the first Poll was conducted in February 2015. The topic then was how North Carolina residents felt about women being in leadership roles like political office and in entrepreneurship.
Dr. Manzo, the Assistant Director of the Poll, had several helpful pieces of advice to contemplate when considering a position with the Poll: “Whenever Poll results are released, we usually get mentions in media from all over the state and sometimes even nationally, which increases the profile of Meredith College. This is good for students because a) they know they helped build Meredith’s brand, and b) Meredith having a good reputation is beneficial for all of us.” The Poll also allows students to directly participate in the Poll’s efforts by initiating their involvement in the creation of specialized questions for the surveys. Students are also paid for their work at the Poll and lend their support by analyzing the data that the Poll receives back from surveys and spreading the word about the survey’s results to their fellow students and Meredith community.
How can Meredith students participate in such a valuable learning experience? Even if they may be focused in areas far from statistics-related majors, Dr. Manzo says that “students from all kinds of majors serve as callers. The majority of students who help write questions and analyze the data are Political Science majors, but any student on Meredith’s campus can participate; for example, a couple of years ago a Psychology major wrote her senior thesis from questions she asked on the Poll. The skills gained are public opinion surveying, how to be a cold caller, which is useful for customer service work, and quantitative analysis skills, which are useful for any number of jobs. If a student has a great idea about questions to ask, come talk to Dr. McLennan or myself! We want the whole Meredith community to be involved in this important work.” No matter what major or area of expertise an individual may come from, the directors of the Poll believe this organization can provide relevant experience and communication skills to any student.
By Emma Fry, News Editor