8. March 2010 05:07
An important part of any roommate matching process is providing some type of survey questionnaire for residents to complete prior to roommate selection. While RoomSync provides a rich environment for residents to do their own roommate matching by communicating with others using Facebook, we understand that it is important to have a questionnaire to separate those roommates that residents wouldn't consider living with.
We have built a robust lifestyle questionnaire tool inside of the RoomSync application. When users setup their account, they will click through to the 'Lifestyle Preferences' tab. First, they will complete a 5 point questionnaire defining themselves as roommates. The questions we ask are:
- neatness level
- preferred bedtime
- visitor frequency
- activity level
- academic vs. social focus
By providing a 1-5 scale, users have flexibility in defining themselves rather than just providing a simple 'yes or no' response. After they have completed these 5 questions for themselves, they then complete the same 5 questions for their ideal roommate. As mentioned in a recent OACUHO blog post, it is very important to ask questions that answer what the user is like and also what their ideal roommate is like. In addition, there should be the ability to weight each question by importance. RoomSync's questionnaires accomplish this by the inherent feature of selecting a range for each ideal roommate. If the student does not value the answer to a certain question, they will select a wide range for that question. However, if the student finds the answer very important to a potential roommate, they will select a small range for their answer. The final question asked to users is if the student would prefer to live with a smoker or a non-smoker.
When lifestyle preferences are complete, users will begin looking for roommates. On our browse page, we allow users to turn their lifestyle filter on and off. By turning the filter on, all answers selected for their ideal roommate are instantly applied and the population of potential roommates is reduced to only those that have defined themselves within the user's ideal ranges. This streamlines the matching process and facilitates good communication to help ensure that roommates enter into a living environment with a mutual understanding of living arrangements.
The lifestyle questionnaire is just one aspect of the RoomSync application and while it is a useful tool to facilitate in the matching process, research shows that better roommate matches do not directly result from providing these types of questionnaires. Instead, the ability for students to control the matching process has a much higher correlation with better matches. That's why offering a roommate matching solution to residents through Facebook is so effective. Facebook is a social networking website so it's easy to communicate with roommates right within the RoomSync application!