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Data Collecting on the Go

Mark Hauber (Psychology)

Despite the extensive park systems in New York City, students in advanced psychology and biology classes focusing on animal behavior and natural history are underexposed to the educational opportunities provided by the immediate surrounds.  Students spend less and less time in the outdoors and come to courses on animal behavior and conservation with limited knowledge of the natural environment.  To provide students with additional field observation and data collection opportunities, Professor Hauber incorporated a handheld interactive bird guide and portable data collection device into his classes.

To enable students to collect simple observational data, Professor Hauber created an online form using Google Docs.  This form, which can be accessed on a PDA or a computer, compiles student data into an online spreadsheet.  To enable students to collect more complex data, involving elements such as multiple subjects or timed intervals, Professor Hauber worked with an iPhone application developer to design a data collection program (WhatISee) that is now available for the iPhone or iPod touch.  Using this application will allow almost real-time compilation of data -- a process which took considerably more time when data collection was done using a paper-based system.  Students will now be able to collect original data and begin analysis almost immediately.  Professor Hauber will introduce the program and provide students with iPods for use on field trips in his Spring 2010 classes.