Video: Students learn methods
of research on the firing range © Nov. 12, 2010, Norwich University Office of Communications

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Students at Norwich University may well have experienced the most fun anyone ever had studying research methods.

Through a former student, Criminal Justice Professor James Ryan arranged to have his two Methods of Research classes act as both test subjects and statisticians for a study on the effects of using a high-tech, red-dot optic scope designed for a pistol. After two days devoted to weapons training, shooting and data collection, the classes will be given the research results for analysis and asked to back up the optics company’s findings.

The opportunity came through Pete McGrath, a 2005 graduate of a Norwich program that assists active Marines in finishing their college education. Following his service, McGrath began working for Trijicon, Inc., a leading weapons optics company. The idea, he said, was to design a test that would produce results similar to what you would get from law enforcement recruits learning to use their weapons. For this, he turned to Ryan and Norwich, the country’s oldest private military college.

On the first day, data was collected on speed and accuracy of firing using traditional iron sights. On the second, the same training and tests were performed using a different group of students and the red-dot optic scope. According to Ryan, the project contains many elements of a classic research project, including issues of sample size, random assignment and operationalization (devising numerical measures to evaluate results).