At this point, my research is near complete. I have collected all of my data and am now in the analytical stage. One of the most central questions that my survey inquired about was the “environmental background” of the participant. The environmental background of a person is the extent to which they have engaged with the physical and conceptual principles of the environment and environmentalism. These experiences vary greatly, as conveyed in the survey responses. Some participants identified the location in which they grew up, such as rural areas or on farm land, as their background in environmentalism. Others indicated that they pursued Environmental Science or a related discipline for their college degree, and counted this as their background.
So now, I am taking the data I have gathered and comparing the survey answers against each other. I am trying to find similarities and frequencies in the survey responses. This is the method that I used to reach the conclusion that I mentioned before. In addition to connecting simple themes, there is a lot of thought that must going in to figuring out what this all means. This not only requires pulling from my own experience, but also from the texts that I have read to prepare for this research. One tool that my mentor taught me was writing out a web of my data to discover connections and more in depth meanings of the survey answers. This helps to lay out all of the information in front of you so that you can then begin to process and analyze the data.
I found success in that my thesis questioned opened the doors for more conclusions to be drawn. For example, I am finding that it is not only direct experience that influences people to compost, but indirect experiences as well. For example, some participants indicated that they grew up composting their food scraps at home, or that they had volunteered at a garden or farm that composts. This is considered direct. Others indicated experiences that range from having recycled other types of waste in the past to experiences that involve broader interaction with the environment, environmental volunteerism, or environmental education. I am considering these indirect experiences.