Agricultural Communications, Purdue University
An electronic newsletter with communication tips and information

July 1996

Grammar Trap: Between vs. Among

"Between" and "among" are words showing relationship. They're used in similar situations.

When do you use one word, and when do you use the other?

In most cases, the answer's easy.

Use "between" when you want to relate TWO persons or things (or when you have three or more items you want to relate one pair at a time).

Examples: The Wabash River runs between Lafayette and West Lafayette. Sometimes you have to read between the lines.

Helpful Hint: "Two" and "between" contain "tw."

Use "among" when you want to relate MORE THAN TWO persons or things at the same time.

Examples: The three friends started arguing among themselves. The estate was divided among the many heirs.

If you have a grammar trap you'd like to see discussed or know of a tip that will help the rest of us avoid a grammar trap, please let us know.


From Chris Oseto, Department of Entomology

"I enjoy your electronic publication, ON TARGET. Is there someone in your department or in the school or university who could address the topic of how to give a presentation? Thanks for your help."

The Center for Instructional Services at Purdue have people who offer training in this area. (Call 494-5100 or visit Rm. B-14 in Stewart Center). Also, "The Communicator's Handbook" from Agricultural Communicators in Education have several points that help in making presentations. Although there are several chapters that include information on writing, producing visuals, and slide and tape production, chapter 20 on "Speaking Effectively" deals with preparing and delivering a presentation.

In just one point from the chapter, the writers encourage you to reduce the listener's effort. "...reduce the effort for the receiver by using shorter words and sentences, more examples and illustrations, and clear and logical expressions. In pictorial communication, you reduce effort for the viewer by clarity, sharpness, and simplicity of visual images. Make it easy to see at a glance what the message is all about."

They also implore you to spell out implications. Sometimes people fill in the vague or missing information correctly, but sometimes they don't. At other times, they give up.

If you don't have a reference copy of the "The Communicator's Handbook", stop by Agricultural Communications any time to review one.

The Depth of Focus Groups

Do you ever wonder what your clientele thinks of you, or wonder how to best reach a new audience? How can you market a program or a service? What methodology tool would be best to gather this information?

One way to find out is with a focus group. The strength of focus groups is that they allow for free form discussion and interaction among participants to help pull out the information you need.

The weakness of this type of information gathering is that it is not quantitative and shouldn't be the sole source for determining direction. The big marketing firms will often start with a focus group and then move on to other survey instruments.

This article, the first in a series of three, will look at the logistics of a focus group. Upcoming articles will look at the facilitator role in focus groups, the discussion, and finally the potential problems that may be encountered with such groups.

The Logistics

The best focus groups are made up of 8-10 people that represent your chosen audience. Think about the usual demographic questions: age? gender? education? family status? income? Then find the people that best represent that target. Once you know whom you need to find, be diligent in picking people who match this profile. It may be easier to select your friends and neighbors, but will the information you glean be of any real use?

If you are having a hard time enticing folks to participate in a focus group, try offering them an incentive. Are there publications that you could give to them or some give away that you have on hand? Some token of appreciation is not unheard of. Financially, though, this may be a constraint.

Ideally, the location for your discussion would take place in a specially designed room that has a two-way mirror, audio/video hook-ups, conference tables, and comfortable chairs. Unfortunately, we work in the real world where that isn't typically accessible. Your next best bet is to have a room with table and chairs for your participants and an adjoining room for observers.

If possible, it's best to record the proceedings. If you can't videotape them, at least try to capture the discussion on audio tape. Make sure your participants are aware that they will be recorded for reference. If you think you may want to use these recordings later, ask the participants to sign a release form.

In the adjoining room, the observers are there to take notes. Valuable information comes at the most unlikely time, and if the facilitator is doing his/her job, he/she can't be bothered to stop the flow and take notes.


Editor's Note: The following is the second in a series of three articles on the subject of multimedia. The contents of this article are based on a similar article in the Oregon State University Agricultural Communication's newsletter, the Backgrounder. This article offers tips on buying a camcorder.

So You Want to Buy a Camcorder...

If money were no object, you might want to explore some of the new digital camcorders that have over 500 lines of resolution and CD-quality sound. The major drawback is that these cost in the $3,000-$4,000 range with tapes costing $20-$25 each.

Like VCRs, conventional camcorders are becoming more user friendly. The first step in choosing one is deciding on format. There are 7 options: Digital Videocassette, High-Band 8mm, Super VHS, Super VHS Compact, VHS, VHS-Compact and 8mm. The major consideration here is cost and quality of picture desired. The former will cost more and have better quality and the latter, beginning with VHS, cost less and are for people that already own a VHS VCR and a standard TV.

The next step is to consider the options. Do a little homework and figure out which options you need. Why pay for features that you will not use? Explore "Consumer Reports" for "best buy" recommendations. Talk to friends to find out what features they like and dislike. Finally go to a showroom and try some hands-on testing.

Food for thought:

Buying Videotape

When it comes to purchasing a VHS videotape, does more money buy better performance? Probably not. Paying top dollar for "Premium" or "Hi-Grade" videotapes won't guarantee better quality images.

"Consumer Reports" tested all the major brands of videotape and found little discernible difference in the quality of the tapes. They concluded that there is no significant relationship between price and performance or noticeable difference between brands of tape.

The two exceptions are when you record special events or buying tape for your camcorder. A higher grade tape may be more reliable when it comes to the contruction of the tape's plastic cassette, but don't spend more than $4.

Another tip when purchasing tapes for your camcorder, specifically 8mm and Hi8, is to purchase shorter cassettes. Tapes, such as 120 minute 8mm and Hi8, have shown a tendency to stretch and cause damage to the tape. Buying a 60 minute cassette is a good compromise. It also saves you time when you review the tape because you don't have to rewind or fast forward through so much footage.

One last suggestion, buy "metal particle" tape whenever possible. Metal particle tapes have been shown to have a longer shelf life than traditional tapes. One tape manufacturer actually said that the average shelf life of a traditional VHS tape is 10 years versus 20 years for a metal partical tape.

So, when it comes to buying videotape, spending a lot of money probably won't buy you more performance but proper tape selection could add years to your viewing enjoyment.

We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of "On Target"? If so, please e-mail any of our writers.

It is the policy of the Department of Agricultural Communication Service of Purdue University that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. These materials may be available in alternative formats.