Rawls College Implements New Behavioral Lab Technology
Since opening in September 2016, the Rawls College's behavioral lab has been utilized by faculty in the areas of Marketing, EELS, and Accounting to conduct research, in addition to being available for undergraduate and graduate students undertaking research projects. The behavioral lab offers several advantages for researchers and participants that are difficult to achieve elsewhere.
When conducting research utilizing technology, it is important that all participants are on a "level playing field." The lab contains 36 computers that have been imaged to provide a clean and consistent experience for all research participants. Each computer is equipped with the exact same hardware and software specs. Additionally, there is a computer in the podium at the front of the room, which gives the researcher access to a specialized software that allows him/her to instantly "push" a file out to all of the computers simultaneously, allowing participants to begin a specific task at the same time.
The infrastructure of the room has been prepared in a way that expands the capability of the lab going forward by incorporating cameras mounted on the wall facing each of the six tables with computers. Once this functionality has been implemented, additional forms of data collection will be offered to researchers. For instance, faculty will be able to conduct research incorporating participant audio and video data.
Over the past eight months, several faculty members have utilized the behavioral lab to improve controllability of their research studies. Many have remarked on the benefit of having identical computers and a well-kept lab. To utilize the lab, the college has created a process by which faculty can submit a form requesting use of the lab - each faculty member is allotted a certain span of time to conduct their research. No one else is allowed in the lab during this period of time, so the researcher can rest assured that nothing (electronic or otherwise) will change between research sessions. In the past, research involving technology was compromised by the need for participants to provide their own laptops. No two laptops were alike, and every participant's experience was different. The research lab affords faculty the opportunity to utilize a controlled research environment, which is essential to the integrity, credibility, and reliability of research results.This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.