To challenge students to think about death as a sociological phenomenon, Dr. Sayers composed a survey asking respondents to answer questions about their views on death-related topics and devised two studies.
The first study involved administering the survey to the students in the Death, Dying, and Beyond class on the first day, before they were introduced to the material of the class. The survey has been administered to the students on the last day of class with the intention of determining whether participation in the class impacted students’ views on Death.
The second study directly involved students in gathering and analyzing data garnered in the survey. Students were responsible for gathering as many unique, completed surveys as possible and were given the option of analyzing the data using SPSS, a statistical analysis software program. Students collected 781 unique surveys. Individual groups came to the project with varying degrees of expertise with the software (from a few brave souls who had none, but took up the challenge to learn the basics, to some who were well-versed in the software’s use from their own major work) and were given the freedom to determine the specific data they explored in analyzing this data, thus the following reports reflect rather disparate interests, approaches, and results. Dr. Sayers hopes to work with students to explore and analyze the data more fully in the future.
A bit of broad statistical data on the survey population may be interesting. Students were challenged to draw half their surveys from people under age 25 and half those over 25; as is to be expected on a college campus, 63.1% of respondents were 25 years of age or younger. Religiously the group is also reflective of the Lebanon Valley, with 67.7% of the respondents indicating Christianity as their religion.
Please read the individual reports to delve deeper into the beliefs of this particular group of people on such issues as belief in life after death (51.5% of respondents indicate they believe), belief in hell (45.5% of respondents indicate they believe), abortion (11% of whom think is “Morally acceptable under any circumstances” and 29.4% of whom think is “Morally acceptable under no circumstances), the importance of mourning rites in dealing with death (54.7% indicate they are extremely important), or to learn more about the correlations between religious affiliation, gender, class, or other such identity markers.