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Research Agenda    

 

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Please contact us with suggested research topics, current research projects, and/or information about unpublished research.

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Suggested Research Topics and Questions

AFA/NIC ideas

The following research questions grew out of a day of joint programming and discussion at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors and the North-American Interfraternity Conference. Topics addressed at the meeting include research, educational resource development, strategic partnerships, training, and web-based initiatives. Participants were asked to respond to the question "In order to make significant progress in the above area, we recommend…"

• NPC 2000 – is this culture changing? Is this resolution having an effect?
• Men’s behavioral influence on women and vice versa
• Norms for NIC groups, NPC groups, NPHC groups, NALFO groups rather than assumptions

Gamma Sigma Alpha Study Questions

In 2001, Gamma Sigma Alpha National Greek Academic Honor Society partnered with the Bowling Green State University Higher Education Department to study scholarship in fraternities and sororities. Together, they developed an Achievement Annotated Bibliography, then developed a list of 16 questions based on gaps in the research. To view the study questions, click below.

Other Topics and Questions (submitted by visitors to this site and other individuals)

  • How does fraternity/sorority involvement affect success later in life?
  • What are the documented benefits of fraternity/sorority involvement?
  • What factors contribute to low/high recruitment numbers?
  • What are the effects of deferred recruitment?
  • What are parents' perceptions of sororities and fraternities?
  • What are faculty perceptions of fraternities and sororities?
  • How does involvement compare between alumni of NIC, NPC, NPHC, and other groups?
  • What are the barriers between NPC/IFC organizations and NPHC organizations?
  • What can we learn about change in Greek organizations?
  • What can we learn about fraternity/sorority advisors who are not members of a fraternity or sorority?
  • How do attrition/retention rates compare between members and non-members?
  • What percentage of fraternity/sorority members are student athletes, and how do they perform academically?

AFA/NIC ideas (detail)


“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Collaborate across umbrella groups to create an ongoing, national research survey about alcohol and other drug use and abuse among undergraduate college students.

This research should seek to understand:

• Why student choose to abstain or to engage in high-risk drinking
• How bad is it? What are we dealing with – who is using, why are they using, what are they using?
• The situations or underlying issues that lead to abusive/destructive behaviors (“why do smart students do such stupid things!”)
• A broad range of colleges and universities (large, small, public, private, etc.)
• Differences in gender and cultural background
• Study differences across students involved in other organizations (athletics, etc.)

Action Steps/Initiatives:

A coalition of representatives from the umbrella groups should be formed, with subcommittees charged with: collaborating with outside stakeholders to find experts to design research instruments, securing funding for research, marketing research project to students (why should they participate?!?), the dissemination of outcomes, and the creation of programs/applications based on research outcomes.
Use of technology (electronic media, email, web-based survey and posting of results) to implement this kind of project is essential.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies):

NIC, NPC, NPHC, NALFO, AFA, NIF, FEA, and their related foundations

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Create a research culture within the profession! Professionals need to become involved in research, and have avenues to secure funding and assistance for such projects.

NIC, NPC, and the other umbrella groups and individual organizations need to allow professionals to do research on their students and cut the red tape that exists…there needs to be an understanding that it is okay to learn something negative in order to grow.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

• Make recommendations to higher education programs for their curriculum
• Provide financial incentives for conducting and publishing research
• Have research wing/staff/person in the organization’s office
• CAS Fraternity/Sorority Advising Standards should include expectations around conducting and publishing research on our field

Allow and reward individuals for any type of research that is conducted. AFA should establish a research award to encourage this.
Grants for research need to be established by the AFA Foundation, NIC Foundation, NPC Foundation, etc.
Create standards for research, and educate professionals on these standards. Create a forum/more opportunities for sharing research results with other fraternity/sorority professionals

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

NIC, NPC, AFA, other umbrella groups, higher education preparation programs, undergraduates, foundations

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Conduct research on existing programs to see if they are meeting desired outcomes. Are our programs effective? Have we assessed if inter/national and/or university policies, programs, punishments, etc. are affecting behavior?

Action Steps/Initiatives:

• Study programs to determine if they provide short-term fixes (scare tactics) or long-term solutions
• Determine outstanding practices in the field – include students in this process – and then share them liberally with all professionals
• Consider the changing profile of the students we are working with and how programs designed in the past may no longer be effective due to this

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Partner with CSCF or other research agencies. NIC, NPC, NPHC, NALFO

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research on perceptions of fraternities and sororities and reasons why student choose to join or not join.

Focus areas could include:

• Why men join fraternities
• Why women join sororities
• Why men and women choose to join other student organizations but not fraternities and sororities
• Perceptions of high school students about fraternities and sororities
• Perceptions of fraternities and sororities over time in college
• Changes in members’ reasons for joining/remaining a member across years in college

Action Steps/Initiatives:

• Partner with high schools so that assessment of students can take place
• Partner with Orientation/First Year Experience staff so that pre-joining perceptions can be assessed
• Partner with Residence Life staff so that non-joiners’ perceptions may be assessed

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

CSCF, graduate students who may be interested in this research, higher education program faculty member to encourage research, all umbrella groups

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research about alcohol/other drug use across time – high school/pre-college, during college, post-college:

• How many people continue to abuse or participate in high-risk behaviors after graduation?
• Is there a correlation between year in college and alcohol/other drug use?
• How do the alcohol/other drug use habits of our member change over time in college?
• Do incoming students that have a high tendency to use alcohol/other drugs migrate to fraternities and sororities? Is there a correlation?

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Funding must be researched and secured in order to do the following to answer the above questions:

• Longitudinal study that tracks use of alcohol and other drugs
• Pre- and post-surveys that assess students’ use of alcohol and other drugs
• Create mentoring program that follows students through their college years and can offer qualitative research perspective on the influences
students face in making their decisions to use/abuse alcohol and other drugs.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Independent, outsider researchers; all umbrella groups; CSCF, AFA

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Assessment of values, both personal and fraternal, and how they influence choices and behaviors regarding alcohol/other drug use and abuse

Potential focus areas:

• Assess understanding of ritual and how integration of the ritual into daily life affects behavior
• Comparison study of members’ perceptions about fraternal values and the actual behaviors of members across generations
• Understanding how values-based decision making is manifesting itself in the Millennial generation
• Research students’ values and beliefs and where they originate (family, church, fraternity/sorority, etc.)

Action Steps/Initiatives:

1. Create tools for assessing the extent to which ritual is understood and used as a guide for life and a tool for assessing alcohol/other drug use – administer to chapters to identify integration of or gaps between values (ritual) and actions
2. Obtain sample of participants across generations (as Levin described). Create survey that would gauge perceptions of fraternal values and behaviors that are congruent with them

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

All umbrella groups – collaboration as well with undergraduate and alumni/ae members

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Create partnerships with research organizations, grant-making foundations, etc. to accomplish OUR research goals (both financing of and conducting of research).

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Create list of groups who publish and sponsor research
Personally contact each organization to establish relationship

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

NASPA, ACPA, AFA Foundation, Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Use, Anheuser-Busch Foundation, Coors Educational Foundation, The Century Council

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Conduct research on whether living environments make a difference in alcohol/other drug use – i.e. fraternity/sorority chapter housing, residence halls, off-campus housing. This means not just assessing “Greek vs. Non-Greek” but rather the effects of living environment on behaviors.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Partner with NIC/NPC/NPHC/NALFO (other groups as needed and as applicable) to develop list of possible campuses to assess (large, small, public, private)
Partner with university offices to gain insight into facts and statistics related to campus living units

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

NIC, AFA, other umbrella groups, students, BACCHUS & GAMMA, CSCF

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…

Conduct research on social norming’s actual influence on consumption amounts and behavioral change in college students

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Longitudinal study of a social norming program measuring behavior prior (including consumption amounts) and behavior after @ 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc.
Publish!

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

• Undergraduates/campuses to participate
• Fraternity/Sorority Affairs staff members and AOD offices on campus
• AFA/NIC/NPC, etc. for funding of research and article to be published

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Conduct research on the drinking age:

Historical and cultural analysis, both pre- and post- the change to 21. Did we do the right thing? Or was it a reaction to drunk driving? Include analysis of other societies outside the United States and their drinking ages and issues. What are other countries doing to combat alcohol use by young people?

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): All groups

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research alternatives to alcohol/other drug use – what would students want to do if using alcohol on Thursday – Saturday nights was not an option?
What would they do with their time, energy and money?

Research what void they are trying to fill by using and abusing alcohol and what alternative sources of entertainment are out there that they can take
advantage of?

What alternatives are being offered to counter the influence of alcohol/other drugs – what things are being offered on campuses for students to participate in?

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Establish a research group or survey group consisting of high school seniors, and first year, sophomore, junior, and senior college students.
Design survey to assess attitudes, interests, level of alcohol/other drug use, peer influence on use
Hold focus groups with participants to probe further into the results

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

NACA, AFA, NIC, NPC, NPHC, etc. University personnel, undergraduates and high school

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research alternatives for social lubrication

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Help students feel comfortable in social settings and not looking to get “drunk” so that they can meet others
Assist students and professionals in understanding that many students may have fake IDs but aren’t drinking – they just want to be social
What are the 2/3 who aren’t doing drugs or using alcohol for social lubrication

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

NIC, AFA, NPC, NPHC, NALFO -- Use social norming within all of these groups and put statistics on AFA listserv

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research recruitment practices as it relates to issue of alcohol abuse. Fraternities in particular sometimes invite prospective members through the use of alcohol.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Have the fraternities report how/who/where their social events involve the use of alcohol, especially when entertaining potential members.
Ask prospective members observations of the abuse of alcohol or how it’s used in recruitment.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): NPC, NPHC, Parents, Potential Members

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Alcohol free housing – where do we stand/how do you measure success?

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Determine percentage of organizations that now have “dry” facilities.
Determine what they means for each group; “dry events,” “no alcohol in facility,” “participating but not hosting.”
Benchmark at 5 years (2005) since initiate began in 2000 to see where we stand.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): NIC, NPC, NPHC

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Assessment of substance abuse among Student Life professionals and administration.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Select Student Life staff (public and private)
Randomly do drug tests or poll staff
This idea might be tough, but would be beneficial to report at the Annual Meeting.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): AFA

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research how we punish our students for the abuse or use of drugs and/or alcohol when they potentially have the same effect.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Organizations expose and compile policies and sanctions as applies to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. They also may need to provide rationale for why a drug abuser is penalized less versus the penalties put on alcohol abusers.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): Inter/national organizations

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Study specific campus trends related to the millennial generation.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Each campus and/or Inter/national organization develop their own research on the “millennials” and compare to see if the information that was given is consistent to who their members are.
Compare regions of the country to see if there are certain patterns.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

AFA should develop a survey for all to use and we could compare through various inter/national organizations and governing bodies. Also in the various regions the Regional Vice Presidents could facilitate gathering and disseminating the results.

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Participate in existing benchmark studies.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Follow all student patterns of behavior and create Fraternity/Sorority or student action based inventories.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): All groups

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Commuter/non-traditional students and substance abuse and/or consumption.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Since commuter/non-traditional students often live “off-campus” they have other obligations. Do these students have different patterns in consumption than other full-time students.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): All groups

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Why do Greek-lettered organizations sanction alcohol use? Other campus organizations do not.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Information from multi campus surveys
Information from inter/national organizations regarding values and education for members
Using sociology faculty and research.
Focus groups

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Inter/national organizations, Undergraduate students, University staff, AFA, NIC, NPC, NPHC

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Differences in patterns of traditional versus non-traditional Greek-lettered organizations.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

1. Surveys
2. Focus groups
3. Actual incident report statistics/campus
4. Cross study of different campus make up.
5. Cross study of housing differences - Is the difference because nontraditional Greek-lettered organizations do/don’t have housing?
6. Broader cultural differences?

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

AFA, NIC, NPC, Inter/national organizations, Alumni/ae support, Governing Councils, Undergraduate students

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Behaviors/norms of non-American college students in the area of substance abuse.
Core study in selective countries with similar educational systems. (English speaking and non-English speaking)
Core study of attitudes and use.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

List of comparable campuses
Randomly selected
Contact select universities/researchers in other countries
Implement survey and assess
Find common denominators and find strategies to address problems and differences in United States college students/institutions.
Select information from any value-based student organization, sports clubs/teams, etc.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

All groups, International university officials, International students

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Ask current students what our Fraternity/Sorority community and administration offer students.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Ask Student Life Offices what activities students attend (in mass numbers) on their campuses.
Ask fraternity and sorority staffs what resources they offer their chapters.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Student Life Officers, Fraternity/Sorority students

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

A research project that analyzes the differences in the psychological attributes between substance and non-substance users. Compare to perceptions. (i.e. Who is really happy?)

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Find funding
Establish a research team

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Research institutions

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Educating high school students about Fraternity/Sorority Life.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Get current Fraternity/Sorority members to go to local high schools and present facts about Fraternity/Sorority Life and college life.
Highlight the benefits and educate them about drug use.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Undergraduate students, Fraternity/Sorority Advisor

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research how failing businesses have facilitated change.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Locate businesses that have come close to failing and have recovered.
Read the business plan of how the company changed.
Incorporate ideas from the business plan.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Corporations, Research groups, Colleges/Universities

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Longitudinal study:

Researching long-term effects of heavy substance use in college years. (5 year and/or 10 year assessments, post-college experience.)
Use resulting information to influence current students.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Design survey to distribute to institution or organization graduates.
Survey 1 year, 5 year, 10 year. Longitudinal study to assess perceptions of college graduates about his/her own personal experience with substance use and how it affected academics, social life, personal decision making, career choices, ability to sustain relationship, have children, etc.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Conducted by: NPC/NIC/NPHC
Or conducted by: Headquarters or by individual institutions

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research the different groups and substance abuse – NPC, NIC, NPHC, NALFO.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Study which groups abuse the different types of substances.
Study the amount of abuse that goes on in each conference.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): AFA, CSCF, NIC, NPC, NPHC, NALFO

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research if chapters and chapter leaders know, understand and implement chapter risk management policies.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Survey chapter leaders to determine if they know and implement their policies.
Determine how they learned of the policy (GA, Consultant, predecessor).
If they do know, then how do they implement the policy?
Notify the chapters inter/national headquarters if the organization does not know and understand the policy.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

NIC, NPC, NPHC, Campus Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, Students

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Research student leaders to learn their substance use patterns.
Student leaders are the ones who use and abuse the most so how can they use drugs and punish those who use drugs? They are in a hypocritical role.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Choose several institutions (public, private, size difference, etc.) and survey all Fraternity/Sorority leaders to determine if substance abuse is a problem.
Ask questions related to patterns of drinking and frequency of drinking.
Compare the results to their drinking patterns before they became a leader.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): NIC, AFA, NPHC, NPC, CSCF, Students

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Identify diverse ways and methods for collecting data on alcohol use by college students.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Move beyond self-assessment methods.
Use other methods, such as BAC, psychological and sociological methods.
Stay away from definitions (i.e. What is binge drinking) and look at behavior, perception and solutions.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): All groups

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Establish a campus baseline of data for drug and alcohol use for Fraternity/Sorority and other students.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Partner with the groups using national tools established (CORE, Wechsler, etc.)
Institutional researchers to develop a tool.
Partner with campus health professionals.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Campus health professionals, Fraternity/Sorority office, NIC, NPC, NPHC, NALFO – support/approve tools, Institutional researchers, Chapter Advisors

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Survey college to non-college students of the same age regarding alcohol and drug use/abuse and consequences.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Target audience for non-college student population (i.e., high school graduating classes).

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

Local/state law enforcement, Courts, High schools, Foundations, Health Department, People who sell/distribute alcohol

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

A research program to determine whether active mentoring programs reduce adverse behaviors among Greek-lettered organizations.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Identify what formal mentoring programs already are in use.
Identify a research partner (possibly CSCF).

Recommended Responsible Party(ies).

NIC, NPC, NPHC, Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, Chapter Advisors, Big Brother/Big Sister groups (for experience in mentoring)

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Develop a national database and questionnaire to be administered to all new members. It would be subsequently be re-administered to current members annually.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Develop nationally recognized and endorsed database and questionnaire.
Letters of support from NIC, NALFO, NPC, NPHC, AFA.
Database/questionnaire administered by Fraternity/Sorority Advisors.
Information compiled at a national location (possibly AFA).
Post data to all constituents.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): NIC, AFA, NPC, NPHC, NALFO

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Define terms that we all agree upon. For example, binge drinking, leaders, etc.

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Create a list of terms surrounding alcohol and drug use and abuse. Have the terms universally applied and acceptable in our groups.

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): NIC, AFA, NPC, NPHC, Inter/national headquarters

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“In order to make significant progress in research, we recommend…”

Parental notification research
Success rate vs. institutional type. Who decided not to do it? Why? Was it done as a political reaction or as a result of institutional statistics showing a problem?

Action Steps/Initiatives:

Look at private universities in particular to see if their parental notification policies are a deterrent to high risk drinking.
Are public universities with Parental Notification policies seeing a reduction of high risk drinking?

Recommended Responsible Party(ies): NIC, AFA, NPC, NPHC, NALFO, Undergraduate students

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