Applied Research in Psychology and Community Studies

As you might expect, the program of Psychology and Community Studies has a heavy focus on serving the community and applying knowledge to community issues. One of the primary ways this is accomplished is through our Research Methods and Design course (SSC320).

The Research Methods and Design course is a service learning course that provides students the opportunity to conduct authentic, client-based research. The students are highly motivated as it is real research and they put in extra effort because it is for a group that needs the information they collect.

Dr. Lois-Ann Kuntz, Associate Professor of Psychology, was a 2007 recipient of the Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence. 

Research into Alcohol Use

Three students of Dr. Lois-Ann Kuntz, in collaboration with five other campuses, conducted research for the Maine Office of Substance Abuse tracking the alcohol use, knowledge and attitudes of college females. Students from the Research Methods and Design class conducted observational, focus group interviews, and individual interviews of members of our campus and community for that study. Three UMM students, Andrew Hopeson, Inez Lombardo, and Shannon Rivera conducted the focus groups as an Independent Study following the Research Methods and Design class.

The work was conducted under the auspices of The People's Regional Opportunity Program: The Women's Project who had received the grant to do the full study from the Office of Substance Abuse. The full title of the publication is: "Cultural Sub-Population Need Assessment: Enrolled College Females, Ages 18 - 24: Alcohol Use, Knowledge and Attitudes with an embedded study of Knowledge of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD): Its Risks and Associated Behaviors."

The students who worked on it during the fall semester (observational research and interviewing research) were: Jesse Bean, Leila Schanck, Jessica Boyd, Nicole Dubreuil, Kenney Miller, Shannon Rivera, Leann Skeate, and Ericka White, all of whom were majors in Psychology and Community Studies, except the latter two who were majoring in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies.

The students were praised by the primary authors for the high quality of their research. In addition, their work continues to inform discussions in the state about the best way to approach the issue of college alcohol abuse; the main authors - Carol Troy and Peter Gartland - have since been at conferences presenting the recommendations from this study for alcohol prevention programming for Maine campuses.

Ensuring Academic Success in College Students

Previous work from the Research Methods and Design class helped UMM obtain a grant award from the MELMAC educational foundation. This fall semester students were again conducting research for the Melmac committee on the "first year experience" (focus groups of students; high school guidance counselor interviews and surveying early college students).

Determining How to Care for Children in the Community

Students performed work for the Caring Community Collaborative conducting a needs assessments for substance affected infants and families in Washington County. Our previous students have also worked on a couple of research projects for the Washington County Children's Program including a telephone interview study of child care providers about children with behavioral problems which was subsequently used to help them (WCCP) secure a Doug Flutie grant for early assessment.

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