Blog post 2: Are Criminal Justice Majors Tougher on Crime?

Criminal Justice Majors: Are They Tougher on Crime than Non-Majors?

By Anthony Javornik

Adviser: Kimberly Collica-Cox, Ph.D.

Criminal Justice & Security

Pace University

As previously discussed in my first entry, my study derives from part of a larger study, conducted by Dr. Collica-Cox, which sought to examine whether students chose criminal justice as a major because of media influence. As her student assistant, I worked with her, beginning in the Fall 2016 Semester, to disseminate and collect surveys from students enrolled in criminal justice courses in New York City. Given that I needed to conduct my own study for my senior thesis, I developed my own research questions that I hoped to answer through examining particular segments of data from the larger project. After discussing my ideas with Dr. Collica-Cox, I decided that I would have two research questions:

  1. Are criminal justice majors more conservative than non-majors in their views of punishment?
  2. Are criminal justice freshman more conservative in their views of punishment when compared to criminal justice seniors?

At the time of the last post, I began rudimentary research for my literature review in order to make sure that my research questions were viable, in addition to being important to the field. As it turns out, there is a lot of literature that explores the issues that I wish to explore. I understand that in the academic world it is not necessarily a good thing to explore an area that has already been heavily researched, as it lacks innovation; however, the literature showed that this particular topic was inconclusive, as multiple studies had contrasting results. Therefore, I chose to inquire further.

In terms of the progress I have made, I have extended my literature review immensely. Considering that I am an undergraduate student, I have devoted a lot of time developing a comprehensive review of the literature, in order to ensure that I have a suitable understanding of the topic at hand. As I stated before, the literature presents opposing stances surrounding the topic, which makes me curious to see which side my findings will concur with. However, the researching aspect of the project has made me realize that there could be potential challenges ahead. For instance, most of the studies that were previously conducted were on a much larger scale than I could ever achieve. The sample sizes were much larger, and in most instances, were conducted on a national level. In addition, by examining the other studies, it made me more aware of the complexity of variables I would have to account for.

I developed my research questions inclusive of the binaries: Major vs. Non-Major and Freshman vs. Upperclassmen. I realized that this is problematic as it does not account for variables such as: race, gender, political ideology, etc., which will all have an impact on the individuals’ responses. However, these issues can be explored and further refined during the data analysis portion of the project.

Since my first blog was written, Dr. Furst, a professor at William Paterson University, completed the initial coding for all 160 surveys. Dr. Collica-Cox conducted secondary coding and finished entering the data for all 160 surveys into SPSS. Unfortunately I could not assist with this part because they are in working together in New York and I am home in Texas for the summer. While they work on inputting data, I am busy working on collecting and examining literature for my project.

In terms of data analysis, I have decided upon the sections of the survey (from the larger project) that will assist me in answering my research questions. My next step will be to refine my operational definitions of “conservative” in order to insure the validity of my constructs and in order to move forward with data analysis. I anticipate completing the literature review of my thesis by the end of August. When classes begin, Dr. Collica-Cox will instruct me on how to utilize SPSS to conduct statistical queries.

I plan to spend the remainder of the Fall 2017 semester completing my thesis project. I hope the data supports my hypotheses.

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