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

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).

Eva Palma Ramirez

Eva Palma Ramirez: Mexican IPV Survivors Talk about Their Transition from Victimization to Advocacy

The purpose of this qualitative research study is to interview 25 Municipal Representatives in the state of Yucatán, Mexico who have experienced some type of intimate partner violence (IPV), specifically physical or sexual abuse, and are currently working as advocates for other women who are experiencing IPV. The focus of the study is on the transitional process of the women, who went from being victimized to becoming active helpers and advocates for other women, and on the exploration of factors that might have aided or impeded the process. The data will be analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The findings will inform the development of better programs for IPV survivors who are women in Mexico and women of Mexican descent in the United States. Faculty supervisor: Angie Kennedy. Funded by the College of Social Science: $6,500 for summer 2015. This study builds on two previous studies conducted by Ms. Palma Ramirez and supported by the Research Scholars Fellowship program: Exploring Sexual Assault and Post-assault Coping among Mexican and Mexican-descent women in Michigan ($5,000, summer 2013) and A Study of Intimate Partner Violence at the Institute for Gender Equality in Mérida, Yucatán, México ($6,500, summer 2014).

Dissertation Completion Fellowship

Lauren Fries Costello

Lauren Fries Costello: The Long Term Effect of Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) on Children’s Trauma, Depression, and Academic Achievement among a Nationally Representative Child Welfare Sample

This dissertation seeks to examine the impact of intimate partner violence (IPV) exposure on children’s trauma, depression and academic achievement over time utilizing a nationally representative sample of children in the child welfare system (CWS). Children who have been exposed to IPV experience a range of developmental consequences including psychological, behavioral, social, and academic difficulties. While research on the effects of IPV exposure has become increasingly sophisticated over the past 20 years, less is known about the impact of IPV exposure, above and beyond child abuse and/or neglect, on children in the CWS. Children involved with the CWS are an important population to examine because they represent an at-risk group experiencing a variety of traumatic events, including high rates of IPV exposure, violence within their communities, and physical abuse by caregivers. Additionally, they are at a heightened risk for psychological problems and poor school outcomes. This study seeks to increase our understanding of the effects of IPV exposure on trauma, depression, and academic outcomes among children in the CWS. Faculty chair: Sacha Klein. Funded by the Graduate School: $6,000 for fall 2015.

Sheryl Groden

Sheryl Groden: The Intersection of Geriatric Social Work and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

This qualitative study explores the extent to which geriatric social workers are aware of and incorporate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into their current practice. CAM refers to a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered part of conventional medicine (http://nccam.nih.gov). The use of CAM among older adults has increased over recent years, especially to treat chronic illnesses such as depression, heart disease, back pain and diabetes. However, few patients are discussing their use of these treatments with their health care providers. CAM has the potential to treat chronic pain and reduce medical costs, but open patient-provider communication about CAM use is important. First, the quality of information older adults receive regarding CAM treatments is often poor. Second, older adults, who typically have multiple health problems, are at-risk for drug interactions between pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies. In order to support older patients in making informed decisions on alternative paths of care, health care providers need to understand how patients are using CAM and be educated about CAM options themselves. Social workers play a key role in chronic illness management by considering relevant biomedical, psychosocial and spiritual factors (as defined by the patient). Existing literature does not indicate whether social workers are communicating with older adults regarding CAM use. This dissertation seeks to understand social worker-patient communication regarding CAM and assess how well social workers are equipped to play this role. Faculty chair: Amanda Woodward. Funded by the Graduate School: $6,000 for fall 2015.

Julie Ma

Julie Ma: The Effects of Neighborhood Disorganization, Maternal Corporal Punishment, and Behavior Problems in Early Childhood

This dissertation study seeks to simultaneously examine the direct effects of neighborhood and parenting on children’s externalizing and internalizing behavior problems and the indirect pathway of neighborhood effects on children’s behavior through its influence on parenting practices. A host of existing research addresses the significant influences of disadvantaged neighborhoods and negative parenting on child outcomes. A notable gap in extant literature, however, is the concentration on outcomes of adolescence in previous neighborhood studies as well as the scarcity of extensive research that encompasses the dynamic neighborhood processes. Another shortcoming in research concerning direct effects of neighborhood disorganization on child outcomes is that while neighborhood influences on children’s development are evident, a considerable number of empirical studies find that the strength of this direct association is noticeably modest, or even ceases to be significant, when parenting variables are included in the analytic model. To address the limitations in existing literature, this dissertation explores neighborhood and parent effects on child behavior problems using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS). Faculty chair: Sacha Klein. Funded by the Graduate School: $6,000 for summer 2015.

Sally Pelon

Sally Pelon: Compassion Fatigue in Hospice Social Work: Potential Moderating Factors

As part of the interdisciplinary team of hospice caregivers, social workers are exposed to multiple stressors, both in their work with dying patients and their families and in their functioning within rapidly changing health care organizations. Ongoing exposure to these professional stressors prompts consideration of the emotional and psychological impact hospice social work may have on those who do it, how hospice social workers evaluate and interpret the costs and benefits of their work, how they process and cope with the consistent themes of dying, death, loss, and grief that pervade their everyday lives, and what interventions may assist in mitigating their stressors. This research study is intended to explore the prevalence of compassion fatigue within the context of hospice social work and to provide detailed knowledge regarding the nature of professional stress experienced by social workers in end-of-life care settings. In addition, this study seeks to investigate potential moderating factors in the experience of compassion fatigue among hospice social work clinicians. Specifically, this study considers both compassion satisfaction and professional supervision as potential moderating influences on compassion fatigue. Faculty chair: Anne Hughes. Funded by the Graduate School: $6,000 for summer 2015.

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).