Wheeling Jesuit University

Psychology Faculty Receive Grants

Three faculty members in Wheeling Jesuit University’s Psychology Department recently received grants that will enable them to strengthen and expand the University’s research capabilities.

Debra Hull, Ph.D., professor and chair of psychology, is the recipient of a West Virginia EPSCoR Instrumentation Grant of nearly $6,000 to initiate a program designed to teach research skills to undergraduate students by involving them in real time data collection, analysis and interpretation during class sessions.

West Virginia EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) is designed to utilize the state’s academic science and technology resources in order to increase university research capabilities, provide student research experiences and support selected science and technology development.

Funds will provide for a Personal Response System, which research has shown to engage students in learning and encourage them to participate in class.

“The Personal Response System enables faculty to demonstrate principles of research design by collecting data from students, compiling it immediately using existing computer hardware, and presenting it to students for reflection and comment in a number of different graphic formats,” Hull says.

“Students will be able to participate by providing anonymous individual data, and then see their data combined with that of other class members, come to life before them.”

Bryan Raudenbush, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and director of undergraduate research, received a grant from the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, with matching funds from the Psychology Department, to study the effects of video game play on mediating pain threshold and tolerance.

With the $7,000 grant, the department will purchase sophisticated gaming equipment and evaluate various types of games, such as action, mental/puzzle, sports, arcade, fighting and boxing.

“The goal is that if certain game types can be found to have a positive effect on diminishing the pain response, a variety of non-pharmacological adjuncts to pain control could be developed, without the concerns of chemical interactions or drug addiction,” says Raudenbush.

“In addition, the quality of life could be increased for those individuals suffering from acute pain responses, as well as decreasing the amount of money and resources currently allocated to pain-related healthcare. Physicians could then implement such video game systems in their offices to aid in distraction during a painful procedure, such as receiving an injection or a dental procedure, particularly in regards to children who primarily play these games.”

Raudenbush also will look at factors such as mood, workload, anxiety, aggressiveness, competitiveness and changes in physiology.

Julie Osland, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, also received funding from the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium. The $975 mini grant will be used to purchase DirectRT and MediaLab, two types of psychology research software.

“The programs will be used by faculty and students to design and implement computer-delivered experiments and surveys,” Osland explains.

Established in 1991, the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, which includes five universities and seven colleges in the state, aims to capture, channel and enhance the interests and activities of current and potential scientists and engineers in its member institutions.

Wheeling Jesuit University integrates the Jesuit traditions of intellectual excellence with the best of advanced technology to help students develop lives of success, service and significance. The University's mission is to educate students for life, for leadership, and for service with and among others. U.S.News & World Report ranks Wheeling Jesuit University 15th in the "Best Master’s Universities in the South," making it the highest ranked institution in West Virginia in that category for eight consecutive years, and the highest ranked school in the Ohio Valley. Wheeling Jesuit--the only Catholic institution of higher education in West Virginia--offers more than 30 undergraduate programs of study and six graduate degrees to about 1,500 students each year. It has a student-to-faculty ratio of 14 to 1, and 18 intercollegiate NCAA Division II athletic teams. The 65-acre campus located in Wheeling, W.Va., includes 15 modern buildings, multi-million dollar Acker Science Center, and residence halls, and a modern recreation and athletic facility that includes a soccer/track and field complex. The campus is home to the Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center, the Erma Ora Byrd Center for Educational Technologies, a Challenger Learning Center and the Clifford M. Lewis Appalachian Institute.

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