Spring Research Blog #4

Happy Spring everyone!

I am pleased to report that our research poster has been successfully completed and printed. The poster looks really good and I look forward to presenting it in Washington, D.C. Now that the poster is finished Dr. Northrup and I have been preparing for my presentation, by anticipating possible questions from observers. I showed the poster to my housemates and practiced answering their questions. It was an excellent way to rehearse and feel comfortable discussing the research. Also, I really enjoyed conversing with my friends and receiving their feedback.

The articles important and relevant to our research project have been printed out. I will have the articles with me at the ENRS Conference during my poster presentation. Dr. Northrup and I want to make sure that I have everything I need before going to Washington D.C., on April 15th. The last item to address before the conference is my complete understanding of the statistics used and the statistical significance of the results. Once I practice and become comfortable discussing the statistics involved, Dr. Northrup and I will feel ready to conquer the research conference! We are both really excited and eager to represent Pace University.

On Sunday, April 19th, the second poverty simulation will take place. Since the Jefferson Scale of Empathy assessment tool presented without any statistical significance in pre- and post- results, Dr. Northrup and I have decided to only distribute the Undergraduate Perceptions of Poverty Tracking Survey to students. Before leaving for Washington D.C., the poverty simulation kit must be reorganized and prepared. We hope that the data results of students will indicate a stronger improvement in positive attitudes towards those living in poverty after the simulation.

The past year has been such a wonderful experience for me. The research program and working along side Dr. Northrup has completely changed my college career. I have applied to the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Pace, which I will hopefully begin in the fall, and plan to work as Dr. Northrup’s Graduate Assistant. I look forward to pursuing more research opportunities and continuing to work with Dr. Northrup.

I hope to see everyone at the research showcase in May!

Thank you to those who have been following my research blogs!

Best regards,


Spring Research Blog #3

Hope everyone had a successful fall semester!

It has been a busy semester so far! Dr. Northrup and I have been continuously working this month on the creation of my research poster. In November, I was accepted to attend and present at the Eastern Nursing Research Society 27th Annual Scientific Sessions, in Washington D.C. I am very excited to present my research project and represent Pace University in April. This month has been strictly dedicated to finishing the poster because, on February 27th, ENRS requires a snapshot of the poster to be considered for a First, Second or Third Place Poster Award. I consider this opportunity a huge accomplishment and success for my research experience.

Since the poverty simulation last semester was such a success, Dr. Northrup has scheduled the next one for Sunday, April 19th. Again, we intend to distribute the Jefferson Scale of Empathy and Undergraduate Perceptions of Poverty Tracking Survey assessment tools pre- and post- intervention to the nursing students experiencing the simulation. The challenge will be to correct any mistakes or issues we encountered with the last data collection. I believe we are up for this challenge and will obtain more significant statistics.

The progress of this research project has come a long way since last May. Dr. Northrup and I have accomplished so much together over the past several months. We successfully completed the first phase of our research, and hopefully the second phase will generate more statistically significant data for student empathy and attitudes. Although entering the data in SPSS software was tedious and a bit confusing, Dr. Northrup was able to teach me a lot about the process and the important statistics that we needed. Hopefully with the next collected data, I can enter the numbers and execute the calculations more productively. I believe learning the statistics component of research through this experience will significantly benefit me, especially if I become a Graduate Assistant next fall.

I look forward to participating in the next poverty simulation, and hope the students will prove upon their empathy and attitude towards individuals living in poverty!

Fall Research Blog Post #2

Hope research has been going well everyone!

Dr. Northrup and I have been making wonderful progress with our data collection. On October 23rd and October 28th, 15 students from Dr. Northrup’s Nursing 110 class and 22 students from Professor Nicholl’s Nursing 110 class were given two pre-assessment surveys measuring their attitude and empathy towards individuals living in poverty. These students then experienced the poverty simulation, on November 1st, and it went extremely well!

The morning began with the volunteers arriving for breakfast and an orientation. When students arrived they were given a short orientation, and were allowed time to become familiar with their roles. During “Week 1” (first 15 minutes), the students were very disheveled, didn’t realize they needed “transportation passes” to go to each community resource table, and did not expect rude actions and words from some of the resource personnel. A lot of students ended up getting “arrested” by “police” because so many of them were not properly taking care of their “children”. Once “Week 2” began, students understood better what they needed to do, in order to achieve their tasks. I was a volunteer at the General Employer table, and saw students realize how important it was to have a “full-time job” and receive their “weekly pay checks”. “Week 3” gave a few families issues because the “school” was closed for the week so “parents” had to arrange care for their “school-aged children”. By the third week, several members in each family were “working”, either “full-time or part-time”, but unfortunately many became “homeless” because they were not paying their “mortgages”. Lastly, “Week 4” was when all students appeared to be most productive and successful. Many of the “homeless” families were able to buy their “homes” back, “children” were in “school” or “day care”, and everyone working was successful in receiving their final “pay checks”.

After the simulation, three groups were formed in the gym, consisting of one faculty member, several volunteers, and three “families” each. Each group was given multiple questions to discuss, such as what happened to their families during the “month”?, how did everyone feel while doing the simulation?, what knowledge can be carried forward into their future profession as a registered nurse?, and how have their views about those living in poverty changed? Everyone had some input about the experience and answered the questions honestly. Some individuals even expressed their real-life struggles of dealing with certain types of elements that occurred in the simulation. Most importantly students became familiar with several types of services available in the community and the lingo (EBT, TANF, etc.) used to describe government programs, which many students never heard about prior to the simulation.

Overall, the faculty, volunteers, and nursing students found this simulation experience to be very informative and eye opening. Many students told Dr. Northrup and I how much they enjoyed it as a learning experience and agreed with our intentions of continuing the simulation for future nursing students. The poverty simulation was fortunate enough to have its own article in the November 5th issue of the Pace Chronicle, which I suggest everyone check out! Dr. Northrup and I have our picture with several nursing faculty members, and I was quoted twice!

On November 6th and November 11th, the students from both Nursing 110 classes were given the post-assessment surveys. Some students were either missing from class, during data collection, or did not fill out the surveys because they did not attend the simulation. Dr. Northrup and I worked together to enter the survey responses into the SPSS Statistics software program, and are going to be running the data for analysis. My mid-year report will contain the thorough process of entering the data and our data analysis findings, which I am very excited to share!

Thank you for reading and have a Happy Thanksgiving!





Fall Research Blog Post #1

Happy Fall Semester everyone!

My name is Colleen Spang, and I began my research project over the summer with Dr. Angela Northrup. In order to understand my project and my goals for the research, I encourage you to read my two blogs that have already been posted this summer. When you see the list of all our names, under “2014-2015 Students”, on the Pace Undergraduate Research page, click the third tab over that reads “Archive” and then click on my name “Colleen Spang”, under the “Summer 2014” heading. By reading those two blog posts, you can have a better understanding of everything I will be discussing.

I am happy to report that Dr. Northrup and I have our first poverty simulation experience scheduled this semester! The simulation has been set for Saturday, November 1st, from 8am to 1pm, in Wilcox Gymnasium. As of now, about 40 nursing students will be participating since it has been added to their Nursing 110 class curriculum. Dr. Northrup has been able to recruit several nursing faculty members to assist us with planning, organizing, and running the poverty simulation.

There are a lot of components involved with planning prior to the simulation. The entire kit we received, from the Missouri Association for Community Action, provides us with all the instructions, poverty family scenarios, community resource materials, “child” dolls, and the factual information about poverty and the programs for those individuals in our country. It takes a great deal of time to sort through and read through, so Dr. Northrup and I are making sure we all know, for the most part, all aspects of the simulation kit. Almost every week this semester, we have met in person to either go through the kit or discuss our plans with the research.

A major goal for us, before the simulation, will be securing the appropriate number of volunteers required to successfully run the simulation experience for students. We are reaching out for volunteers through the media, family and friends of those involved, and I even emailed a volunteer recruitment flyer to Susan Maxam for her to circulate on the NYC campus.

In regards to the research aspect, Dr. Northrup and I have scheduled the dates and times for data collection. I will be presenting the Nursing 110 students in Dr. Northrup’s class with the two surveys, on October 23rd and November 6th, at 4pm. The surveys will be voluntary, and those filling out the survey a week before the simulation will be identified with a number to match their survey responses a week after the simulation. I will also be presenting the Nursing 110 students in Professor Nicholl’s class with the surveys, on October 28th and November 11th, ay 4pm.

After Dr. Northrup and I collect all of the before and after simulation surveys, we will work on computing the data and statistics of each survey. It is important for us to retrieve the basic statistics, as soon as possible, because I plan on submitting an abstract to the Eastern Nursing Research Society, in order to attend their 27th Annual Scientific Session, in Washington D.C., from April 15th-17th. Dr. Northrup and I both hope to attend the session to present our research.

If anyone would like to come and observe our poverty simulation, please feel free! In my next blog post, I will be discussing how the simulation experience went, and hopefully some statistics from our research!

Summer 2014 Blog #2- Poverty Simulation

Greetings everyone!

Over the course of the summer, Dr. Northrup and I have made exceptional progress for the intended research data we will be collecting, by the end of the Spring 2015 semester. Since the third week in May, Dr. Northrup and I have been conversing weekly via conference calls and join.me. By using join.me, I am able to view Dr. Northrup’s computer screen for reading articles together, collaborating on emails, and completing the Pace IRB checklist for an expedited review.

Most of the summer involved me reading through various research articles pertaining to our proposed study, based on their research design and methodologies. The main focus was selecting two validated assessment tools to examine student attitudes and empathy. The idea is to enter the surveys into the software Qualtrics, and administer the two surveys before and after students experience the poverty simulation. Research articles viewed as current, creditable, and important to the study were obtained through Google Scholar or Columbia University databases, such as CINAHL, PubMed, and PsycInfo. Based on all the scholarly research articles obtained, Dr. Northrup and I were able to agree upon the empathy scale and attitudes scale we wish to work with in our research study.

The assessment tools chosen are the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (Ward, 2009) and the Undergraduate Perceptions of Poverty Tracking Scale (Blair, 2013). In order to utilize these scales, I had to write emails requesting permission to use them in our study. The successful email exchanges with Kaye Maxwell, who heads Empathy Projects at Jefferson University, led to Dr. Northrup and I being granted the right to administering 320 free copies of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE). In regards to the attitudes scale, I emailed Dr. Kevin D. Blair, a social work professor at Niagara University, requesting permission, and received it immediately. In addition, Dr. Blair would like us to collaborate with him by sending the results of the survey for comparison. Now that the scales are available for use and copying, the questions will eventually be created into Qualtrics surveys.

Dr. Northrup attended meetings with Dr. Martha Greenburg and Professor Elizabeth Berro to discuss the purchasing of the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) from the Missouri Association for Community Action (MACA). The funding for the simulation came through so it was ordered, and is in Dr. Northrup’s possession. Those experiencing the simulation, in the fall and spring, will hopefully be freshmen and sophomore undergraduate students with the majors of nursing, criminal justice, social work, and psychology. It is important to involve various majors that will be working with impoverished individuals in their future careers.

This fall semester Dr. Northrup and I plan on providing undergraduates with the poverty simulation experience for the first time at Pace University. Therefore, we have no data to analyze in regards to pre-and-post survey responses. Before students begin participating in the study, they will receive a copy of an informed consent form that I was able to create based off a Fordham University template. Once students consent, complete the surveys and experience the simulation, Dr. Northrup and I will compare pre-intervention data with post-intervention data using descriptive statistics, Chi Square and t-tests. I’m sure many questions will arise from the data collected, and I will work to resolve them before repeating the next poverty simulation, in the spring.

Overall, I will admit that the research work accomplished this summer was a huge success. Dr. Northrup and I were able to develop an efficient routine, which allowed both of us to complete our weekly tasks with great precision and haste. The numerous successes I experienced were discovering the two assessment tools to be used in the study, being granted free copies of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy, and submitting the IRB application before August, on Tuesday July 29th. Dr. Susan Maxam, the IRB reviewer for the Provost’s undergraduate student-faculty research program, responded six days later claiming that our application was in “FABULOUS condition”, with only a few minor corrections required. Dr. Northrup and I collaborated on the corrections, and I developed the recruitment flier that was requested. We sent back everything to Dr. Maxam on Wednesday August 6th, and received approval the very next day. The IRB notification of approval letter was sent to us with our code number of 14-78. Luckily, there were no big challenges that slowed our research process. I will say that searching for validated assessment tools took the most time and effort.

The entire summer provided me with vast learning opportunities in the realm of research. I developed the skills and techniques to locate research articles and studies that not only pertained to the study, but also were validated and recent. I learned that assessment tools are not always free to the public, and requesting permission for use may come with rules and restrictions. Before this project, I had no knowledge about the software, Qualtrics, but after completing training videos I have the ability to create surveys. I discovered numerous informed consent forms online, and spent time recreating a Fordhamn University form that now contains our project information. Lastly, I learned more in depth about an IRB application for research with human subjects, and went through it with Dr. Northrup thoroughly to receive approval quickly.

Dr. Northrup and I were selected for the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Program for the 2014-2015 academic year. Therefore, my goals involve completing this project by the spring of 2015, presenting our data at the research showcase and submitting our findings for publication and additional presentations. Now that we have gained approval from the IRB, Dr. Northrup and I will start the data collection via surveys from students scheduled to participate in the poverty simulation experience. We plan to administer the simulation once in the fall, and then again in the spring. This will hopefully provide us with enough sufficient data to determine the ability of the poverty simulation to positively influence the attitudes and empathy of undergraduate students towards those living in poverty.

Hope everyone had a successful summer!

Colleen Spang







Summer 2014 Blog #1- Poverty Simulation

Greetings to everyone involved in undergraduate research this summer!

My name is Colleen, and this fall I will be starting my fourth and final year of the BSN nursing program. As my nursing advisor, professor Dr. Angela Northrup honored me with the opportunity to work close with her over the summer. Our research project focuses on evaluating the attitudes and empathy of undergraduate students towards those living in poverty, after completing a poverty simulation experience. The working title of the project is “Development of a research proposal to evaluate the effect of a Poverty Simulation Activity in first year students”.

The expected outcome of the project would include the development of a research proposal and the successive research that would be submitted for publication. This project will assist constructing a proposal to measure the effects of a poverty simulation designed to sensitize undergraduate students. Such valuable learning can provide college students with the positive attitudes and empathy needed in their careers and everyday lives.

In order to evaluate the effects of the simulation, the research project requires an assessment tool measuring student empathy towards those living in poverty, as well as, a tool measuring student attitudes. During the summer, my priority is to read through various research articles pertaining to our proposed study, and identify two validated assessment scales that have been used in numerous research designs and methodologies. Once two scales have been selected, I will contract the appropriate people to request permission for use of their tool in our project. The two assessment tools, one for empathy and one for attitudes, will be administered to students before the simulation experience and then again after completing it. The results will answer the research question of whether experiencing a poverty simulation effects the empathy and attitudes of undergraduate students towards those living in poverty.

The goal I wish to achieve with this project is the visualization of positive changes in empathy and attitudes of students towards impoverished individuals. It would be a wonderful opportunity to continue this project through the fall and spring of my senior year. This upcoming fall would be ideal for new freshmen students to experience the simulation. After completing the poverty simulation for the first time with students, I hope to review their post-assessment results and see their changes in both mind and heart. The positive effects of the simulation would be extremely encouraging, and would allow for the experience to be offered each semester. Overall, my wish for the project is significant results that would promote the use of the simulation for many years, even after I graduate.

Thanks for reading, and more will follow in August!

Colleen Spang