PSYCH 180: Research in College Drug Use

In Spring 2018, Dr. Palmer and Dr. Heather Zesiger piloted a new research-oriented course that will utilize MAPme data in future years. Ten 1st year students enrolled for the opportunity to learn about substances of abuse, basic pharmacology, and research methods. During the first four weeks of the semester, Dr. Palmer provided instruction in basic pharmacology and epidemiology of common substances of abuse (i.e., alcohol, tobacco, stimulants, and cannabis). Each week included a brief lecture followed by a discussion on theories of substance abuse and popular intervention strategies used to minimize drug exposure. As a proxy for MAPme data, students in the pilot course had the opportunity to work with data from Emory’s own

National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey. After several weeks of introductory statistics, students developed their own research topic. In preparation, students participated in a literature search tutorial in the library and used the writing center to help them develop a two-page proposal outlining their chosen subject area and the related variables from the NCHA survey.

For the remainder of the semester, students received one-on-one guidance in SPSS from Drs. Palmer, Zesiger, and Benca-Bachman during one half of the class session. The remaining portion of each class was dedicated to instruction in scientific presentation and interpretation of statistical findings. Upon completion of their poster, the students participated in a colloquium in which the guest speaker, Dr. Amelia Arria, Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland, presented her most recent findings and technologies for enhancing student academic success and health outcomes. The students gave very professional presentations at the proceeding poster session. Symposium evaluations included comments such as: “Fascinating”, “Great research”, “Great lecture”, 
“Great interesting talk.”, “Great speech, super informative on marijuana’s academic impact”, “Very interesting and informative. I would love to attend this kind of lecture more often.”, “Fantastic presentation. Excellent information.”, “Would love to know more about implementation”. All of the colloquium attendees felt that they had a better understanding of the role of individual and social characteristics in addiction behavior. Amongst the student attendees (N=25, including those in the class), 100% indicated that they had more of an appreciation of the unique offering of the course in combining practical as well as academic components to introduce students to behavioral research. Notably, 100% of attendees indicated that because of the Research in College Drug Use keynote address they had a better understand research methods used to study student substance abuse. Many students who took the course also reported being more confident in their statistical and research abilities.

PSYCH 180: Research in College Drug Use is taught every other Spring and is open to 1st- and 2nd- year undergraduate students at Emory College and Oxford College.

To see student posters, click here.

For correlations of the pre-post evaluation survey comparison, click here.