Loyal readers will know we’ve been studying why Toronto students are so miserable for some time now. But we think we’ve found the jackpot here.
Up until now, we’ve mostly been looking at common institutional factors that seem to result in lower satisfaction levels. But it’s time to take a really good look at Toronto students themselves. Could it be that they’re just more demanding/prone to complain/ likely to kvetch? In a word, are they just more crotchety than students from the rest of Canada?
This isn’t an easy theory to test. Ideally, what you’d want is to find out how students across the country feel about some kind of experience that has nothing to do at all with education and see whether Toronto students have a reaction statistically different from the rest of Canada. If Toronto students have similar reactions to students elsewhere, then we might conclude that their bad ratings for universities have to do with the universities themselves. If the ratings turn out differently – that is, if Toronto students are systematically more negative about the unrelated experience as well – then we might chalk up Toronto schools’ perennially ugly results to the fact that their students are just a bit negative/over-entitled/a pain in the ass, etc.
But finding that “something” is tough because you need an experience that will have affected most students across the country in a similar manner. Asking questions about the last South Park episode doesn’t work because not everyone watches it; you can’t ask about price rises at Tim Horton’s because not everyone drinks there; you can’t ask about the weather because it’s always better in Victoria, etc.
But… Facebook to the rescue! Ninety percent of students have Facebook accounts. And Facebook, bless them, performs minor tweaks to its look-and-feel every month or so that inevitably engender a wave of petty, bitter comments from its users. As a result, the question “how annoyed were you with the most recent Facebook changes?” is actually the perfect control for measuring geographical concentrations of student crotchetiness.
We put that question to over 2,000 students across Canada in October through our CanEd Student Research Panel. Here are the proportions of students who said they were “annoyed” or “very annoyed” by the most recent Facebook changes.
Statistically significant at a .005 level, in case you were wondering. Conclusive evidence that there’s a Toronto kvetch factor at work, and something to definitely keep in mind when you look at national satisfaction ratings.