Featured Student Research

There are many opportunities for PhD students to engage in research, as well as receive funding for their projects. Students may obtain the Dissertation Completion Fellowship and the Research Scholars Fellowship, which funds independent research projects during the summer. They also have the opportunity to conduct a research project as part of a team in our research practicum sequence courses, SW 911 and 912. Finally, students may take the initiative to work together with peers to conduct independent research.

Research Fellowships

Joshua Bishop

Joshua Bishop: Trauma Exposure in Social Work Education

The aim of this study is to better understand trauma exposure and secondary traumatic stress (STS) among MSW students, with the purpose of informing a robust, trauma-informed pedagogy that effectively prepares clinicians for careers in trauma treatment. The study will explore the following research questions:

  1. Does lifetime trauma exposure differ between general MSW (control group) students and MSW students enrolled in trauma-focused courses (experimental group)?
  2. Is exposure to trauma-related content associated with an increase in STS for students enrolled in trauma-focused courses? Does STS in the experimental group differ from general MSW students?
  3. Is there a relationship between STS and previous exposure to trauma (for both groups)?
  4. Is there a relationship between STS and compassion satisfaction (in both groups)?
  5. Is trauma exposure related to level of resilience among MSW students?

The sample will include an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group will be students enrolled in trauma-focused courses over the summer of 2018. Two of these courses will be offered at MSU (Core Concepts of Trauma Treatment and Embracing the Stories of War), and two will be at Western Michigan University (Core Concepts of Trauma Treatment and Sexual Trauma). The control group, which is yet to be finalized, will include general MSW students. A longitudinal design will be used with two data collection points: Pretest at the beginning of each course (May-June 2018) and post-test when course work is finished (July-August 2018). Faculty supervisor: Gary Anderson. Funded by the Summer Research Fellowship, School of Social Work: $5,000 for summer 2018.

Erik Wittrup

Erik Wittrup: The Influence of Family Drug Treatment Courts on Sustaining Sobriety and Reducing Child Maltreatment: A Pilot Study

This pilot study is an exploratory analysis aimed at examining the influence of Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC) programs on sustaining sobriety and reducing child maltreatment post-program participation from the perspective of participants. In this qualitative study, data from observations of the FDTC proceedings as well as in-depth semi-structured interviews were collected from current and former FDTC participants from moderate sized counties in a Midwestern state. In order to assess how FDTC participation influences the experiences of sobriety and child maltreatment during and following program completion, ongoing thematic analysis of the transcribed interviews and observation notes is being conducted using Atlas.ti. Findings from the study will be used to help inform court staff and community recovery programs. Faculty supervisor: Anna Maria Santiago. Funded by the Summer Research Fellowship, School of Social Work: $5,000 for summer 2017.

Liz Sharda

Liz Sharda: Factors Impacting Retention Among Foster Parents

This study aims to expand the current knowledge related to foster home retention by examining the impact of social support and role satisfaction. The study utilizes a mixed-mode survey methodology to explore social support among licensed foster parents, including types and sources of support, as well as foster parents’ satisfaction with their role. Data analysis will explore whether social support and role satisfaction are related to one another, as well as their relationships to foster parents’ intentions to continue in their role. Faculty supervisor: Hyunkag Cho. Funded by the Summer Research Fellowship, School of Social Work: $5,000 for summer 2016.

Kristen Prock

Kristen Prock: A Preliminary Investigation of Service Provision for Sexual Minority Homeless Youth Residing in Transitional Living Programs

This study seeks to describe the provision of services that are being offered in the 2014 Family Youth Service Bureau (FYSB) federally funded Transitional Living Programs (N = 149) specifically related to services and programming that meet the needs of sexual minority homeless youth. I am interested in exploring if there are differences in service provision based on geographic location, climate, urban verses rural, and number of homeless youth with the state as identified by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annual counts, and developing a clear picture of best practice models that are being utilized with sexual minority youth who are homeless. The overall goal is to development a comprehensive picture of services that are being offered, and factors that might contribute to, or hinder, the provision of best practices for the identified population of homeless sexual minority youth. Faculty supervisor: Angie Kennedy. Funded by the College of Social Science: $5,000 for summer 2015, $6,500 for summer 2016

Dasha Shamrova

Dasha Shamrova: Building Capacity for the Integration of the Child-friendly Evaluation Model into Nonprofit Practice

This study has two core goals: The first goal is aimed at facilitation of participatory transformation via focus groups, which will further the development of an innovative organizational intervention. This summer, in partnership with the Center of Evidence-Based Program Design at Moscow State Pedagogical University (Moscow, Russia), a sequence of capacity building events will be held to provide the nonprofit community a safe space for collective creation of ideas and building relationship between the Center, the community, and myself. The second part of the project has a goal of building the capacity of the researcher. To fulfill this goal, I will attend a course on survey methodology at the GESIS Summer School in Cologne, Germany, which will prepare me to integrate the model into practice and evaluate its impact. Faculty supervisor: DeBrenna Agbenyiga. Funded by the College of Social Science: $6,500 for summer 2015. This study builds on a previous study conducted by Ms. Shamrova and supported by the Research Scholars Fellowship program: The Institutionalization of Child-friendly Evaluation in Non-profits in Russia ($5,000, summer 2014).

Dissertation Completion Fellowship

Ilan Kwon

Ilan Kwon: The Patterns of Physical and Behavioral Health among Older Adults and its Effect on Older Mental health Service Use: Age Cohort Effects

Social work research needs to reflect a social concern related to health and social care for older adults. The rate of older people with multiple chronic conditions (MCC) increases as people live longer, and a substantial portion of the aging population includes baby boomers. These two trends (i.e., increased longevity with MCC and characteristics of the aging baby boomers entering the older adult population) together can be a principal challenge facing the current health care system. A key is manifest to provide adequate care that accommodates the demographic changes and the different needs for health care among the baby boomers who are the large segment of the older population. However, few studies have examined the increasing diversity of older individuals and models of health care that will efficiently meet their complex needs. Research should focus on integrating the nature of aging and the structure of health organization and service delivery systems. This study will contribute to our understanding of these issues by using latent class analysis with a nationally representative dataset to explore the patterns of physical and behavioral health conditions among older adults living in the United States and how these patterns may influence service use.

Research questions guiding this study are four-fold:

  1. what patterns of physical and behavioral health conditions characterize the aging population?
  2. how do the patterns of physical and behavioral health conditions in the older adult population vary by age cohort?
  3. what is the relationship between the patterns of physical and behavioral health conditions and mental health service use?
  4. how does age cohort moderate the association between the patterns of physical and behavioral conditions and mental health service use?

As a result, three aging groups were discovered with different health profiles: a healthy group, a physically vulnerable group, and a group most at risk. Contrary to the expectation, baby boomers turned out to be more physically vulnerable than pre-boomers. Physically vulnerable older people were less likely to receive mental health care than healthy people. This study result provides evidence of the heterogeneous health characteristics of the aging population. Several implications will be discussed for reflecting their overall health care needs, suggesting a better medical and social policy and providing effective health care services to satisfy their complex needs. Faculty chair: Amanda Woodward. Funded by the Graduate School: $6,000 for summer 2018.

Daria Shamrova

Daria Shamrova: Culturally Sensitive Approaches to Measurement and Exploration of Child Material Deprivation, Children’s Rights Implementation, and Subjective Child Well-being

This dissertation consists of three quantitative manuscripts that focus broadly on child subjective well-being, and the impact that child material deprivation and children’s rights implementation have on it. I employ a culturally sensitive lens to the analysis of the second wave of the International Survey of Child Well-Being by:

  1. testing measurement invariance of the Child Material Deprivation Index that allows for establishing meaningful comparison across cultural contexts as well as help to find out the countries where the Index does not work as it is designed;
  2. constructing and validating Children’s Right Implementation Scale for different cultural contexts;
  3. testing the relationship between material deprivation, children’s rights implementation and subjective child well-being in a variety of countries followed by in-depth analysis of the commonalities and differences in those relationships.

The data set I propose to utilize is an international, intercultural and multilinguistic study with multiple waves of data collection. The second wave utilized for these manuscripts was conducted in 2013-2014 in 16 countries including Algeria, Colombia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Germany, Israel, Nepal, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, England, and Malta. The questionnaire includes 122 questions for the 12-year-old age group. A total number of children included in the subsample of 12 years old is 19,212 cases. Faculty chair: Sheryl Kubiak. Funded by the Graduate School: $6,000 for summer 2018.

Jaewon Lee

Jaewon Lee: The Impact of Economic Well-being on Depression over the Adult Life Course: A Structural Equation Approach

Although prior research indicates that economic well-being influences depression, the concept itself of economic well-being has remained ambiguous, and little is known about the impact of economic well-being on depression over the life course. As levels of depression have changed over time, this study will identify how economic well-being affects those changes over the adult life course. The current study will be conducted using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. The latent growth curve model will be conducted using M-plus statistical package.

The research questions are as follows:

  • 1. What are the trajectories of depression among the middle age group between 34 and 50 years of age? Is it a linear or quadratic change?
  • 2-a) In terms of the trajectories of depression, are there differences on a) initial status, b) linear slope, and c) quadratic slope?
  • 2-b) If there exist differences on a) initial status, b) linear slope, and c) quadratic slope, what variables explain the differences?
  • 3) How does an index of economic factors at 34, 40, and 50 years function as a measure of economic well-being in the middle age group between 34 and 50 years?
  • 4) Is economic well-being simultaneously associated with depression at each time point?

Midlife is a stage which is greatly influenced by economic resources as individuals become responsible for their lives on an economic level and face economic challenges that can affect depression. Thus, understanding the effects of economic well-being on depression during adulthood may help to pinpoint a specific period in the life course which requires more attention before levels of depression increase. Potential findings provide a rationale for offering more jobs by focusing on welfare to workfare in order to reduce concerns of lack of economic resources. It will provide grounds for social workers to further advocate for individuals who suffer from mental health and economic hardships. Faculty co-chairs: Kyunghee Lee and Daniel Vélez Ortiz. Funded by the Graduate School: $6,000 for spring 2018.

Current SW 911/912 Research Project

SW 911 Students: Understanding the Relationship between Human Rights Exposure and Civic Engagement among University Students

What encourages university students to actively engage in their community? It was hypothesized that exposure to human rights issues and attitudes developed from experiences in the university setting, as well as from social media, peers, and previous experiences, might be influential. Therefore, the purpose of this research study is to examine the relationship between human rights exposure and attitudes of university students and their patterns of civic engagement. The study will be completed by an electronic, cross-sectional survey in fall 2015; we will analyze the data and develop manuscripts over the course of the academic year. Faculty supervisors: Anne Hughes and Amanda Woodward.

Examples of an Independent Student Research Team

Cristy CummingsDasha ShamrovaEdita Milanovic

Cristy Cummings, Dasha Shamrova, and Edita Milanovic: International Context and Global Perspective in U.S. Schools of Social Work

The goal of this study is to examine the current state of the programmatic and curricular internationalization of schools of social work (SSW) that contain CSWE accredited undergraduate and/or graduate programs. The first phase of this study was a content analysis of the global and international content found in regionally proportionate sample of digital mediums of SSWs, such as websites and social media. These platforms may not be fully representative of SSWs’ offerings in terms of global content; thus, the second phase of the research study is to survey administrators of all SSWs with CSWE accredited programs about the global content and international focus offered at their institutions. As a strategic outcome, the researchers hope to develop strategies and/or best practices for integrating global content into social work education. We presented our findings from the first phase at the CSWE annual conference in October 2014; we will be presenting our second phase results at the upcoming CSWE annual 2015 conference. Faculty consultant (second phase): DeBrenna Agbenyiga.

Dasha ShamrovaCristy Cummings

Dasha Shamrova and Cristy Cummings: A Visual Exploration of the Experiences of International Undergraduate and Graduate Students and their Spouses at Michigan State University: A Photovoice Project

This exploratory study aims at building new knowledge about the experiences of international students and their families at MSU. We will provide an out let for international students' voices to be heard. This Photovoice project gives a level of ownership to the participants through engagement, understanding, and sharing. Through the creation of artistic photographic products, participants will seek to explore the following: (1) What are the components of a universit y environment that is friendly to international students and their spouses? What does MSU do to create an environment of inclusivity? (2) How do international students and their spouses engage with university entities in their search for adaptation support? What are their experiences? What are the barriers encountere d while accessing and utilizing university resources? (3) What can be done to increase the levels of inclusion and adaptation support experienced by international students and their families at MSU? Participants will have a voice in how the findings will be presented and for whom, with the intent of benefiting the la rger MSU community. Options may include, but will not be limited to, holding an exhibition at a museum, creating a traveling exhibition displayed on MSU campus and beyond, a social media campaign, or presenting their work at diversity and inclusion themed campus events. Faculty Advisor: Deborah Johnson, Human Develop ment and Family Studies. Funded by the MSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant ($7,720).