CSI Student Team Investigates Community Opinions for Real World Projects

Dr. Jeff Meyer, center, talks to Emily Springsteel (left) and Cara Recker (right) about their CSI project. (Not pictured: Stuart Fatzinger and Liz Yarnell.)

By Donna Greenwald

When students come to BGSU for their business education, they obtain a learning experience that is beyond the traditional college classroom. Students have the opportunity to get hands on, real world experiences. Such is the case for marketing students who were selected to work for CSI (College Student Insights) – an independent academic group study advised and supervised by Dr. Jeff Meyer, associate professor of marketing with expertise in marketing research.  

Four students were selected through a rigorous and competitive process last semester to participate in CSI. Through their selection, they had the unique opportunity to collect marketing research and analyze the data for two clients.

The two projects were split between four students – seniors Emily Springsteel, Cara Recker, and Stuart Fatzinger, and December graduate Liz Yarnell, now a transportation analyst at Ohio Logistics.  

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green needed research from BGSU students and the Bowling Green community about their interest and attendance at church services and activities, what motivates attendance and increases retention, and what are the best ways to promote the church.

For the church’s marketing research project, Springsteel and Recker concluded the following from their online surveys about students:


  • preferred activities or events that focused on concerts/music, community service opportunities, and cookouts;
  • preferred late Sunday morning services (between 11am and 1pm) that were more modern;
  • female respondents preferred online worship and church affiliated student programs; and
  • to use campus organizations to share the church’s message and to promote activities


Community surveys suggested preferences for the following:


  • include modern music and more relaxed attire for late Sunday morning services (11am-1pm);
  • promote assistance for the ill (health care) or those without transportation (provide a shuttle);
  • share church information via social media, mainly Facebook; and
  • consider partnering with a preschool since more than half of the respondents with young  children would enroll them in that preschool.


Springsteel and Recker provided St. Mark’s with concrete suggestions they could consider based on both sets of research.

The other client was BGSU’s Athletic Department. Fatzinger and Yarnell developed and implemented student surveys about awareness and attendance at athletic events with a special focus on basketball.

For the BGSU Athletics Department project, the research showed football and hockey were the top two sports students were most likely to attend.  The results also revealed that most students preferred to learn about athletic events from social media and campus email updates. Additionally, with the social media category, Twitter was the most preferred method followed by Facebook.  The research also showed that the opponent — especially if the opponent is a rival — was an important influence on students’ decision on whether to attend an event or not. 

Based on their CSI experience, both Springsteel and Recker had high praise for their educational experiences.

"College Student Insights has been a great opportunity to learn more about the field of marketing research.  Working with St. Mark’s was a great way to build skills in marketing research through real life client interaction.  There is no better way to understand an area of study than to go through a process that allows you to utilize procedures and concepts that were taught in class. I think the most rewarding part is knowing our research and recommendations can help this local church benefit the community as a whole.”  

Emily Springsteel, Class of 2016, Marketing and Supply Chain

“When I found out about the opportunity to be a part of College Student Insights (CSI), I was excited to gain real world experience in the marketing research field.  Overall, this has been such a valuable experience for me.  Being able to work hands-on with actual clients gave me a much more realistic perspective on the type of work I may be doing in a marketing research job.  I personally learn better by doing, so by working through the marketing research process in a real world scenario, I was able to learn even more than if I was just in a classroom setting.

Cara A. Recker, Class of 2016, Marketing

Fatzinger echoes his classmates’ sentiments on the value of the projects.

"College Student Insights has been a great program to be a part of. Learning about material from a book is one thing, but getting hands-on experience is so much more valuable. It was invaluable learning the ins and outs of communication on a professional level, meeting deadlines in a timely manner, and using in-depth analysis to find particular answers asked of us from our employers.” 

Stuart Fatzinger, Class of 2016, Marketing and Business Analytics

The CSI tradition is continued this semester, with students conducted research for two small businesses in Ohio — a paper arts company in the Columbus area and a Yoga/Pilates studio in the Toledo area. “CSI is a win-win for both the client and for the students,” says Dr. Meyer.  “The client gets valuable information about their customers, and the students get hands-on experience in both marketing research and project management.” 

If you are a small business owner or organization that is interested in working with CSI on a marketing research project, you can contact Dr. Meyer at jdmeyer@bgsu.edu

Updated: 12/01/2017 11:00PM