Thursday, May 11, 2006

How Students Learned About the Class

On the first day of class while we were doing the roll I asked the 18 students enrolled how they learned about the course. Here's what we found:

From a Professor -- 4
From an Advisor -- 4
Through Friends -- 3
Online Catalog -- 3
E-mail Blast from Department -- 3
MyNEU Announcement, the online student portal (generated by Department) -- 1

Personal sources accounted for 11/18, or 61%
Impersonal, electronic sources accounted for 7/18, or 39%

I had asked the first few students who were enrolled in the course early on to tell their friends about it so that we could ensure we obtained the minimum number of students (n=10). This seemed to work because the "through friends" all came as a result of one student who was one of the first four to sign up for the class. The student he told also told another student so we had an instance relay/pass-along.

But it seemed the most effective was via professors and advisors, people who are arguably influential based on their structural network position in the organization and any credibility factors derived from their personal characteristics or existing relationships with the students.

As part of the debrief of this mini-activity we also discussed the different motivations for passing along positive and negative WOM as reported in Sundaram et al., Advances in Consumer Research, Volume 25, 1998:
- altruism, product (or service or brand experience) involvement, self-enhancement, and helping the company (for positive WOM)

- altruism, anxity reduction, advice seeking, and vengeance (for negative WOM)
For example, one student said he had a positive experience with me in a prior class which led him to spread the word to others (an instance of "product" involvement).

I love little activities like this to practically illustrate basic concepts and principles of word-of-mouth.


No comments: