College students’ alcohol consumption has been an area of concern for universities for quite some time now. The purpose of my research is to examine the different motivations behind alcohol consumption among undergraduate students at the University of Michigan in comparison to Division 1 athletes also enrolled at Michigan. I seek to find if the stresses of balancing academics and athletics, pressure to perform, and adapting to social change effect the rate in which Division I college athletes consume alcohol compared to their non-athlete peers?
Ultimately, I hypothesize from experience there to be a significant difference in the proportion of athletes who consume alcohol in comparison to both the average college student and students affiliated in Greek life. Furthermore, I believe this difference in proportion may be majorly attributed to the high commitment that comes with being a student-athlete. Research on alcohol use among athletes and non-athletes is vital in order to understand why the abuse of alcohol is on the rise around college campuses all over the nation.
These two concepts are related because there may be a significant difference between athlete’s alcohol consumption and their non-athlete peers that is imperative to analyze. I want to know if the differences stem from personal motivations or if environments, for example Greek Life, play the predominant role among college students alcohol consumption. Furthermore, within the population of college students, researchers have identified the subpopulation of college athletes as being at an increased risk for heavier alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and drinking-related negative consequences (Anderson, Albrecht, McKeag, Hough, & McGrew).
Based on these findings, I set out to explore what the determining factors are that could possibly make college athletes more at risk for alcohol consumption and binge drinking than their non-athlete peers. Literature Review: After analyzing several research articles I found many relevant studies that enhanced my knowledge of alcohol consumption among college students, which really benefitted my research. The first research I found pertaining to my topic was an article done by three doctors from Southern Illinois University.
The journal is title, “College Factors that Influence Drinking” and it seeks to examine the aspects of collegiate environments that influence drinking, rather than student characteristics. The research method and results: “Method: A literature review of articles primarily published within the last 10 years, along with some earlier “landmark” studies of collegiate drinking in the United States, was conducted to determine institutional factors that influence the consumption of alcohol.
Results: Several factors have been shown to relate to drinking: (1) organizational property variables of campuses, including affiliations (historically black institutions, women’s institutions), presence of a Greek system, athletics and 2- or 4-year designation; (2) physical and behavioral property variables of campuses, including type of residence, institution size, location and quantity of heavy episodic drinking; and (3) campus community property variables, including pricing and availability and outlet density. The overall message behind this research article concluded that there exists undeniable evidence that college students all over the nation drink often and many who drink to harmful levels. Furthermore, the study shows there is consistent information regarding the negative consequences of drinking and that there are also differences relating to housing, athletics, and Greek organization affiliation.
Alcohol-Related Injury Among Greek-Letter College Students”, (O’Brian, 2013) The from the Journal of Health Psychology investigated the hypothesis that members of Greek-letter societies are the heaviest drinkers on college campuses, and experience more alcohol-related problems than their peers. The study reports the result of a web-based survey administered to college students from ten North Carolina universities. It concluded that Greek-letter status was a significant independent risk factor for increased injury on college campuses, which warrants a necessary analysis of the these factors that only seems to be increasing.
A counselor in Psychology, Jacob Jones Ph. D. , at Indiana State University, also did a relevant study on my topic of college student’s alcohol consumption. His dissertation, titled, “The Risk Factors of Alcohol Abuse Among College Athletes”, investigates the relationship among alcohol use and athletic identity, competitiveness, drinking game participation, and level of sport participation. He discovered that drinking game participation is a significant predictor of total weekly alcohol use above any other predictor.
In addition, he demonstrated that individuals not currently participating in sports with an athletic identity in the same range as current athletes consumed alcohol at similar rates to current athletes, thus supporting athletic identity as an appropriate way of classifying athlete status. This article included findings from a national study in 2001 that indicated that 81% of college students had consumed alcohol in the last year (Wechsler et al. , 2002).
In addition, more than half of the 81% of college students who consumed alcohol were considered binge drinkers. Wechsler et al. (2002) identified binge drinking as having five or more beers in a row for men and four or more beers in a row for women. Furthermore, Anderson et al. (1991) found that up to 88% of athletes used alcohol. Researchers have compared the binge drinking behaviors of athletes and non-athletes and found that athletes consume more alcohol and binge drink significantly more than non-athletes (Leichliter et al. 1998; Nelson & Wechlser, 2001; Wechsler et al. , 1997). I will compare these findings with the data I collect with my own research to delve into the reasons behind alcohol consumption and college students. Kathleen Goodman, director of research on undergraduate education at the University of Iowa, explored the impact of binge drinking on a range of college outcomes and the effect of that relationship in her dissertation, titled, “New Evidence on the Link between Alcohol Use and College Outcomes”.
Her overall results suggest that a substantial portion of college students may not be achieving many of the intended outcomes of college due to their frequency of binge drinking. She concluded that students who binge drink at any level fare worse than students who do not binge drink. This evidence relates to my topic because I want to discover why the level of alcohol consumption of college students is constantly increasing if research like Kathleen’s, and many other researchers, display the negative effects of what alcohol can do.
Overall, there are many relevant research designs in Sociological studies that pertain to alcohol consumption on college campuses in the United States. As seen above, these articles adequately show that alcohol consumption is on the rise and it is a major issue that must be examined. My goal of determining if athletes are more at risk in comparison to their non-athlete peers was further developed through these five research reviews and a survey that I will be conducting. Research Design:
The design of my research started to take shape when I began to operationalize my definitions of unit of analysis, independent variable and dependent variable. The unit of analysis for my research question is individual undergraduate students currently attending a four-year university. The unit of analysis could be individual students, the institution, and/or a certain category of students within the university, etc. , but I concluded drawing my sample from as many students as possible will help draw firmer statements from the data I collected.
My study population for my research question consists of a random sample of all undergraduate students currently enrolled at the University of Michigan. It includes freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors. I chose this study population because I wanted to acquire a broad age range so my sample will not end up being bias towards a certain age, which will further my analysis of the data because it will show the differences in alcohol consumption between students who are of the legal age to drink compared to students who are not legal to consume alcohol.
My sampling frame for my research project consists of a random sample of Division I athletes presently enrolled at the University of Michigan who are listed on an athletic team roster and who describe themselves as “binge drinker due to personal characteristics”, “binge drinker due to environment”, “moderate drinker due to personal characteristics”, “moderate drinker due to institutional environment”, or “never/rarely consume alcohol. Furthermore, I did the same thing with undergraduate students currently enrolled at the University of Michigan who are enrolled in at least 14 credits or more. The reason I decided to only take students in my sample who are enrolled in 14 credits or more is because I want to have the least amount of bias in my sample as I possibly can. By doing this, I eliminated the concern of students having different workloads, which could have otherwise skewed my results if some students had more leisure time than others.
I ideally wanted to research as many male athletes as well as female athletes as possible. Sample: I chose my sample based on how well of a response I got from the different groups and individuals I sent my research questionnaire to. This technique is known as quota sampling because I am basing my sample on the fact that I believe I can acquire the best proportion of male to female (athletes and non-athletes), students from different backgrounds, and values by using this method of sampling.
Although I had to use a form of non-probability sampling, which is in essence not as accurate or reliable as probability sampling, I still infer that my data will be extremely useful in my ultimate goal of unveiling the causes behind alcohol consumption among college undergraduate students and that is why I chose my sample in this way. My sampling frame is different from my study population because my sampling frame is much more specific than my study population.
One difference between the two is my sampling frame consists of Division I athletes presently enrolled at the University of Michigan who are listed on an athletic team roster and who describe themselves as “binge drinker due to personal characteristics”, “binge drinkers due to institutional environment”, “moderate drinker due to personal characteristics”, “moderate drinker due to institutional environment”, or “never/rarely consume alcohol” as well as undergraduate students currently enrolled at the University of Michigan who are registered in at least 14 credits or more who also describe themselves in the same manners listed above, while my study population is simply a random sample of undergraduate student—freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors—who are currently enrolled at the University of Michigan.
Another difference is my sampling frame consists of only the participants that I chose to use for my data because I am using quota sampling for my research; this differs from my study population because my study population could be any student currently enrolled at the University of Michigan. Another difference is my sampling frame might be somewhat skewed towards individuals within the Greek Life community because these students accounted for nearly 40% of my responses. I expected to have about one hundred units in my final sample, but my response rate has proven to be better than I initially expected.
After accumulating all my responses from my survey, I received 130 responses out of the 215 total surveys I sent out. This rate, known as the response rate, is calculated by dividing the total number of surveys I sent out by the total number of surveys I received. I calculated this rate to be 60. 5 percent. Moreover, evidently I received responses from a fairly good variety of subjects in my sample, which was one of my initial concerns that was alleviated once I acquired my sample. I know this is a good enough variety of subjects in my sample because, overall, I used selection bias to get as close of variation in subjects as I could. Furthermore, I received surveys from 58 females and 72 males.
Of the females, 19 are associated with Greek life, 21 are listed on the roster of a Division I sports team, and 18 females are what I consider a typical college student, not affiliated with Greek Life or on a sports team. Of the males, 28 are affiliated with Greek Life, 30 are listed on a roster of a Division I sports team, and 14 are what I consider a typical college student. Furthermore, my responses are correlated this well due partially to selection bias. Additionally, I have had to discard 11 surveys I received due to response bias from students who are either not taking at least 14 credits, or students who, I believe, did not take my survey seriously.
My biggest concern was how many female athletes I will be able to find who will be willing to take my survey due to the fact that I don’t have many connections with female sports teams, but my response rate for female athletes is sufficient enough for my desired research. The characteristics of my sample versus the population I want to represent are valid for my data that I will be analyzing. I have received responses from about 39. 2% athletes, 36. 2% Greek-life affiliates, and 24. 6% regular college students. Finally, my sample may be bias for a couple different reasons. I collected my data by only using one collection method and through my personal viewpoint that I believe would help me accomplish my goal of unveiling the predominant effects behind alcohol consumption. Another bias I most likely have encountered is response bias.
I realize that for many college students it might be difficult to remember the exact number of alcoholic beverages one consumed on a given night. Additionally, I also must include that although my survey questionnaire is completely anonymous, most college sports teams have rules against consuming alcohol, which ultimately could make respondents reluctant to answer honestly, and therefore making my results more bias. My dependent variable is the proportion of each category of student that indeed partakes in binge drinking. I measured this by creating a survey questionnaire with many different questions that will ultimately lead me to discover if athlete’s alcohol consumption is, in fact, significantly different due to the demanding commitment that comes with a sport.
My independent variable is the category that the student falls into (athlete, Greek life, normal college student). I also measured this variable by creating a survey questionnaire that I handed out to students all around the campus. I gave the survey to students in dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, at the library, in the diag, and other random students who volunteered to partake in my research. My survey questionnaire will help me operationalize my independent variable because I will include questions that will get me to the conclusion of how and why institutional environments play the predominant role in alcohol consumption among college students. Furthermore, my study enters the realm of examining what to do with the information.
By analyzing the key variable of why students are binge drinking, institutions within our society can begin to formulate a plan to reduce these causes and, hopefully, reduce binge drinking in the process. Ethical Issues: My inform consent statement was included in every survey that I handed out and before the respondent started the survey I made sure they knew there was no benefit, or risk for that matter, in taking my survey. I included a description of the reasons for my survey by stating, “This is a project for Sociology 310 at the University of Michigan. The topic of my research is to discover the effects and differences of alcohol consumption of college athletes and their non-athlete peers. ” Furthermore, I included a description of human subject involvement with the statement, “This survey will take approximately 10 minutes.
Answering these questions will pose no risk to, nor will you personally gain benefits from the survey. ” The next section of the consent from dealt with confidentiality. I informed the respondent they should not include their name anywhere on the survey and that all answers received will be completely anonymous. The final portion of the form notified the respondent that it is completely voluntary; they may stop the survey at any point that they no longer feel comfortable without any repercussions, and finally, they are not forced to answer every question on the survey if they wish not to. Data Collection Instrument: My data collection method consists of a survey questionnaire.
I have chosen this method of collection because I believe the most valuable information I can acquire relating to my research question will come in the form of a survey questionnaire. I designed my instrument by producing questions I believe will help me draw conclusions about the effects and differences of alcohol consumption between athletes and regular undergraduate students. This survey is designed to better understand the consumption of alcohol among college students. Please be completely open and honest in providing information about yourself and your use of alcohol. Your individual responses will not be identified with you in any way. All answers will be combined and only overall results reported.