Research Briefs

Research Shows Student Engagement More than Fun and Games

Planning and attending student events on a college campus may sound like it’s all fun and games. But new data from Georgia Southern University shows there are real benefits for the students and for the university when students engage in on-campus activities.

A recent analysis by Georgia Southern’s Institutional Research office of first-year students who attended at least one event during the 2021-22 school year showed that those students returned this year at a rate of 79.4%. That figure is more than seven percentage points higher than the University’s overall freshman retention rate of 72%.

“National data has consistently shown that the more engaged a student is with the university, the greater their chance of succeeding in college. It’s very satisfying to now have data to show the value of student programming and events at Georgia Southern,” said Shay Little, Ph.D., the University’s vice president for student affairs.

Student affairs has been collecting student participation data since the university launched “the Eagle Experience” in fall 2020. The following year, the program, a collaborative cross-university effort to ensure new students’ successful transition to the Georgia Southern college experience, won a 2021-22 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Excellence Bronze Award.

Now, data show that students are re-engaging after two COVID-influenced years that impacted many of Georgia Southern’s operations and activities.

Total attendees measured at Georgia Southern events on all three campuses rose from 55,124 in fall of 2021 to 79,408 in fall of 2022. That’s a 44% increase in students who checked in during at least one of more than 1,000 events.

Fall 2022, the numbers show:

  • 1,162 total events
  • 79,408 total attendees
  • 370 Armstrong Campus events that attracted 13,116 attendees
  • 662 Statesboro Campus Tagged Events that attracted
    62,335 attendees
  • 82 different departments or registered student organizations hosted events

“It’s clear that we are reaching our Eagle Experience goals of engaging and retaining our students,” Little said. “We intend to foster a transformative student experience where students have fun, find a place to belong, and have opportunities to learn while enhancing their academic experience. These results are very encouraging.”  John Lester

JPHCOPH Faculty Members Receive Nearly $2 Million to Promote Inclusive Excellence in Health Informatics

Photo by Jonathan Chick

Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health (JPHCOPH) faculty have secured a federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to promote inclusive excellence in health informatics and health equity. The federal grant totaling more than $1.8 million is part of the $7.98 million award for the TRIUMPH (Training in Informatics for Underrepresented Minorities in Public Health) consortium, which included three other universities and four public health organizations.

Professor and Department of Health Policy and Community Health Chair Gulzar Shah, Ph.D., is the principal investigator, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Nandi Marshall, DrPH, is the co-investigator of the grant.

“This initiative will help our college foster collaborations and community engagement involving influential public health agencies, academic institutions, community organizations and public health agencies,” stated Shah about the grant that aims to empower minority students through education.

It will also help facilitate a fully online concentration in public health informatics within the University’s existing Master of Public Health (MPH) program. This concentration will feature new courses focused on health information systems, data analytics and public health data visualization for evidenced-based practice. It also will provide several graduate assistant opportunities to support students enrolled in the new MPH concentration.

JPHCOPH faculty members Hani Samawi, Ph.D., Jeff Jones, Ph.D., Linda Kimsey, Ph.D., Joanne Chopak-Foss, Ph.D., Katie Mercer, DrPH, and Bobbie Jo Newell also contributed to securing the grant.

Researchers Study Racial Disparities in Cardiovascular Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and African American adults are 30% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) than white adults. Researchers in the Waters College of Health Professions (WCHP) at Georgia Southern University are examining the biological basis for these racial differences. “More than half of this racial disparity may be attributed to substantially greater rates of high blood pressure and vascular dysfunction in Black adults,” said Greg Grosicki, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and assistant professor in WCHP. The team is examining the difference in skin pigmentation, which can influence cardio-preventive vitamin D levels. Through an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), a biochemical test to measure antibodies, antigens, proteins and glycoproteins in biological samples, the team is able to measure vitamin D levels in plasma samples. By pairing vitamin D values with measures of skin pigmentation and the team’s comprehensive assessments of cardiovascular health, they are able to determine whether low vitamin D levels may be contributing to higher blood pressure and vascular dysfunction in Black adults, which will help inform future interventions and therapeutic strategies seeking to alleviate racial disparities in CVD. The research team consists of both faculty and students from the Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology as well as the Department of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Sciences.