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 By using, 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