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Choose KU, Choose the World

Richard Ward, Dr. Ko-Hsin Hsu, Stacie Ford

KU Bears Research: Inter-Rater Reliability

by Jaclyn Miley '17

Kutztown University is dedicated to providing students and faculty with a well-rounded educational experience. The KU BEARS pilot program is another example how KU is pushing education to new limits.

The program provided Dr. Ko-Hsin Hsu, criminal justice professor, with the opportunity to take on two undergraduate research assistants, Richard Ward and Stacie Ford, for their research project Inter-Rater Reliability on Assessing Environmental in the summer of 2016.

The program supports faculty/student research groups like Hsu, Ward and Ford by awarding them with a grant so they can perform a research project together. The program provided Ward and Ford with the chance to grow and develop the necessary skills to become successful student researchers.

Hsu selected Ward and Ford because of their excellent academic standing and her ability to be able to rely on them, which is vital when it comes to research.

Ford emphasizes how this was the perfect opportunity for her to advance her academic career.

"I was working part-time jobs in food and retail and stuff that has nothing to do with criminal justice," Ford said. "The opportunity to get myself in the field as a sophomore was huge for me."

The study focused on examining physical variables around drug activity hot spots in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and Newark, New Jersey. Ward and Ford independently used Google Street View (GSV) to collect observational data in these crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Ward expressed how vivid his experience was using GSV and how it helped him to understand another culture.

"Personally I had never been out of the country at that point so it kind of gave me a good observation of what different areas of the world look like, especially in Brazil," Ward said. "It gave me a better understanding of what different areas are exposed to and what the different conditions look like."

To ensure the reliability of the data, the two would code variables on GSV images into numerical or dichotomous data, using Microsoft Excel. Later, Hsu would compare the data collected for the inter-rater reliability check. In regard to the work the students submitted, Hsu expressed her appreciation for their dedication and hard work.

"They returned my request promptly," Hsu said. "They exceeded my expectations, they were really good."

The data Ward and Ford collected will be used to develop a research paper examining street drug markets.

Ward and Ford emphasized how appreciative they were for the experience and the positive impact it has had on their undergraduate education. The two expressed how the skills they have developed and perfected under the guidance of Dr. Hsu, and with the aid of the KU BEARS pilot program, will help them to be successful in their future endeavors.

Dr. Hsu expressed how grateful she is for being chosen for this program.

"I am honored," Dr. Hsu said. "I am in the middle of my application to apply again."