One of the things that researchers here at VCU are interested in is what factors contribute to how well students do during their college years and beyond. As you are well aware, starting college is a major milestone, associated with a lot of big life transitions. For many of you, this will be an exciting time filled with new opportunities. Yet, the college years are harder for some students. For some individuals, this period can be a high risk time for the development of problems associated with alcohol use, use of other substances, and emotional health. We want to understand what factors contribute to these outcomes so that we can ultimately use this information to improve the quality of life for our VCU students. This project is an opportunity for students at VCU to work together with some of the leading researchers in the world to try to understand and prevent these important and widespread problems.
Research is a critical component of all major universities. Spit for Science: The VCU Student Survey is an opportunity for VCU students to be a part of the research process. All first time freshmen 18 years of age or older will be invited to participate; students under the age of 18 will be eligible to participate when they turn 18. To make this study a success, we hope as many students as possible will participate – we want our study to be representative of VCU's diverse student body. The project will allow us to understand what kinds of things contribute to alcohol use, use of other substances, and emotional health. In addition, we hope to use the findings from the project to feed back into programming at VCU to benefit our VCU students and community. However, participation in the study is completely voluntary.
During the Weeks of Welcome all eligible first time freshmen will receive an e-mail through their VCU e-mail account inviting them to participate in the project. This e-mail will contain a link that will take you to an online survey. The survey asks questions about your personality and behavior, as well as your family, friends, and experiences growing up. It will take approximately 15-30 minutes to complete. You will receive a $15 e-gift card for your completion of this survey. There may also be an opportunity for you to provide a DNA sample, we will let you know more about that opportunity if it becomes available. If you choose to participate in the survey, you will be contacted by Spit for Science in the future to see if you’d like to complete follow-up surveys, for which you can receive compensation each time if you choose to participate. In addition, the data you provide may be used to select students to invite them to participate in future studies. You can decline participation in any of these future invitations and/or choose to withdraw from the Spit for Science project at any time. All data that we collect is kept completely confidential. More details about each component of the study will be found in consent forms that you will be given before you complete each part of the study.
Because identifying information is kept confidential and not released to the researchers who are analyzing the data, you will not receive any individual feedback from the survey. Instead, the researchers will periodically send out newsletters to update you on findings that come out of the project. These will never be linked to individual people or have identifying information included in them. Rather, they will provide general overviews of findings from the project.
We hope that participating in the Spit for Science project will give students a better understanding of the research process. We also hope the project will raise awareness about issues related to the use of alcohol, the use of other substances, and emotional health, as well as the importance of genetic and environmental influences on behavior. We hope you will find it fun to be a part of this unique opportunity for your class and to learn more about the characteristics and behaviors of your class. The findings will also be used to inform programming available at VCU to help improve the experience of students. You will be compensated for taking the time to participate in the project in the form of a $15 e-gift card payment for the survey.