The Effects of Drinking Behavior on College Students’ Academic Performance Abstract This study investigated the relationship between college students’ academic performance and their drinking behaviors. It was hypothesized that higher alcohol intake levels would be related to lower GPA. In the experiment, 28 Psychology students took an online survey which examined their level of alcohol intake in reference to their current grades. Current grades were measured by GPA and alcohol intake was based upon self-reported drinking frequency.
Previous research supports the idea that poor academic performance is related to high alcohol intake. Background research supports the proposed hypothesis; however, the results found that alcohol intake had no significant relationship with academic performance. The Effects of Drinking Behavior on College Students’ Academic Performance One who attends a college or university will at some point engage in the consumption of alcohol. It can be viewed as the college life, which is becoming a major issue on campuses.
This is an issue because it is our country’s responsibility to ensure that undergraduate studies encourage increase knowledge and not discourage it. The environment of school in general may be too relaxed and peer behavior and pressures contribute to behavior that may be detrimental to one’s college career. Undergraduate studies should be a gateway to even higher learning and not a hindrance. The growing concern about this issue can be gauged by the national new media coverage of heavy drinking.
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Recent developments in government, higher education, and the public health community have led to greater public awareness and policies to address the problem (Lewis, 2005). It has been found that students; who participated in binge drinking drank or had a hangover more than once a week and had lower grade point averages (Taylor, Johnson, Voas & Turrisi, 2006). In addition, it was noted that most students who did not enjoy learning or attending class; consumed alcohol at least once a month (Taylor, Johnson, Voas & Turrisi, 2006).
Previous research has supported the hypothesis that higher alcohol intake is correlated with poor academic support. This study is unique because I wanted to see if this was true on a smaller scale. I decided to conduct a study at Old Dominion University using a sample of Psychology students. Though it has been found that poor academic performance is related to large alcohol consumption, I wanted to explore this finding on the campus of Old Dominion. Several studies have examined the effect of drinking behaviors and how they may be detrimental to college academic life.
A national survey of nearly 37,000 students at 66 four-year institutions revealed a strong negative relationship between alcohol consumption and grades. Students with an A average consumed a little more than three drink per week, B students had almost five drinks, C students more than six, and D or F students reported nine drinks (Taylor, Johnson, Voas & Turrisi, 2006) Vaisman-Tzachor, R. , & Lai, J. (2008). According to the results of the research conducted, these students were unable to maintain higher GPAs because of the amount of regular alcohol consumption.
In the current study, we explored the relationship between drinking behavior and academic performance. It was hypothesized that students who participated in drinking activities on a regular basis would not receive satisfactory grades. Participants were asked to complete an online survey that was administered via www. surveygizmo. com. Each participant was expected to answer truthfully to each question in order to determine the amount of alcohol usage in relation to their academic performance.
In study conducted by Croom and colleagues, it was found that prior knowledge regarding alcohol was not found to have a significant effect on alcohol related behaviors. In this study the control group, college freshman, were given a survey and knowledge test during the summer prior to the start of college. The experimental group received the survey in addition to an online course, and final exam (Croom et al. , 2009). In another study, it was found that a positive correlation existed between personality and alcohol use.
Personality characteristics that were considered included: openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. In addition, the study also found that there was a negative relationship between alcohol use and grade point average. As alcohol use increased the grade point averages of student’s decreased (Musgrave, Bromley, & Dalley, 1997). A study by Robert Crosnoe found that alcohol use increased with the failure of a course. Course failure was a greater predictor of alcohol use then was alcohol use a predictor of later course failure (Crosnoe, 2006). Method Participants
Twenty-seven Psychology students from Old Dominion University participated in this study. Participants were awarded extra credit for their participation. Materials A self-developed survey was used to study continuous drinking behavior and to monitor how much one drinks in comparison to his/her current academic achievement. The goal of the measure of the study was to determine the relationship between regular alcohol consumption and academic performance. The measure of the relationship was based upon the survey containing questions such as, “Have you ever had a hangover? ” and “Do you enjoy learning? The survey was administered through online survey host website www. surveygizmo. com. The goal was to ask students indirectly about alcohol consumption in relation to their grades without telling them exactly what the survey was about. Alcohol intake was measured by the self-reported amount of drinks and drinking frequency. There were 19 questions altogether. Most questions were based upon a one to five scale, with one being the least in agreement and five being the most in agreement. Some questions required yes or no responses and others had fill-in-the-blank options.
Some of the ideas that I wanted the participants to explore were their true drinking behaviors, frequencies, and habits. I wanted to present the questions in such a way that the participant would voluntarily describe their habits without holding anything back. My overall goal was to observe through answers the amount of alcohol consumption in respect to grades. Asking about attitudes toward school and eventually progressing to actual grade representation, allowed me to compare alcohol usage to behavior toward school.
Everything regarding school including but not limited to attitude toward it, grades while attending college, and immediate past test score should have either been parallel with consumption or negatively correlated. Procedure Each participant was responsible for taking a 19 question survey. The survey’s overall level of difficulty was easy. It did not require anyone to participate longer than 5 minutes. They were asked a series of multiple choice and fill in the blank answers. Each participant was expected to answer truthfully. All 28 students were required to answer each question because it was mandatory.
Before participation began everyone had to consent to participation, and afterward everyone was thanked and given extra credit by the participating professor. Results A Pearson’s Product-Moment correlation was used to determine the relationship between current grades (M = 3. 44) and drinking frequency (M = 3. 07). Results of this analysis showed that there was not a significant relationship between the two variables (r = . 11, p>05). Discussion The research conducted has verified the null hypothesis which concluded drinking does not have negative effect on academics.
Most students who willingly participated in the survey responded that drinking at a high frequency or binged drinking did not adversely affect their grades. These findings are contrary to most acceptable research on alcohol being a negative correlate of academic failure. A survey was administered with questions requiring honesty about drinking habitats and academic performance. Questions were related directly to the topic and others were field questions. Mandatory questions were asked such as GPA and alcohol consumption on a monthly or daily basis. These key questions played a vital role in the outcome of the study.
In the hypothesis it was proposed that drinking would have a negative effect on academics. In previous research, the correlation of drinking and class attendance had been shown to be to be within the realms of the stated hypothesis. When students consume alcohol it was related to negative academic performance. However, the outcome of the survey resulted in information that was quite opposite to the research conducted in the given survey. According to the survey used in the current study, there was no significant relationship between alcohol consumption and acquired GPA.
Most students who willingly participated in the survey responded that drinking at a high frequency or binge drinking did not adversely affect their grades. These findings are contrary to most acceptable research on alcohol being a negative correlate of academic failure. Previous research showed that students at four year collegiate universities are likely to consume alcohol. A national survey of 37,000 students at sixty-six four year institutions hypothesized that there would be a strong negative relationship between alcohol consumption and grades.
In this study, students were asked to report drinking behaviors, and reported a significant amount of alcohol use. The study found that there was no significant relationship between alcohol use and grades (Jackson, 2006). This conclusion is similar to that of McAloon (1994), that higher levels of drinking were correlated with negative consequences, such as high rates of reported hangovers, driving under the influence, nausea or vomiting, suicide risk, and sexual assault. There was no significant relationship between drinking frequency and academic performance and one of the major confounds of this study was the sample itself.
There were a plethora of issues surrounding the sample’s size and characteristics which could have led to results that turned out to be opposite of the hypothesis and previous background research studies that supported the hypothesis. There were only 28 participants in the study. There was not much diversity regarding the students’ demography. These 28 students were not randomly selected; rather, they were students working for the incentive of extra credit in the same class. It is very important to have diversity perspective in data because data can cover a wide variety of subjects.
Diversity-centered research addresses different ethnicity, culture, sexuality, gender, age, disability, or a wide range of other perspectives (Lumby & Morrison, 2010). Information such as this would lead the average researcher to wonder if the results were skewed because of the lack of participation and the lack of diversity among the participants. Considering the idea that only observing one group of individuals (psychology majors) may distort results is enough to say that the results could have been different.
Not having any participants outside of the major, with one exception, could lead one to believe that maybe Psychology students are just different. Maybe they are the exception to all of the previous background research. An assumption such as this could be considered a bit absurd, but there would be no way to assume anything contrary to this belief. The study did not include many others outside of the major. It would be safe to conclude that either Psychology students are the exception, or the researcher should have examined more students outside of the major to verify that this is no exception.
Previous research suggests that alcohol and academia have a negative correlation. For example, college students who participated in the research study conducted by researchers in the Southwestern region of the United States found this statement and accurate depiction of the correlation between alcohol and academia. The study conducted found that most students who engaged in the consumption of alcohol had poor reflections when their grades were assessed and a high number engaged in drinking because of the collateral effects of having close people also engaging in this behavior. Hagman, Cohn, Noel, & Clifford, 2010). When there is a study performed that is disproving the above, it is important to make sure that there is no room for error or doubt. Examining only Psychology students and one Criminal Justice student was a large mistake. All but five of the participants were college seniors, and the remaining participants were fellow upperclassmen. Classification does not define level of maturation; however, it is possible that since the participants of this study were all upperclassmen they may be able to correctly conduct themselves in a manner that is not harmful to their everyday lives.
Drinking frequency may have a larger effect on someone who is less mature about it and not willing to drink responsibly (Crosnoe, 2006). Lack of diversity among classification combined with participants’ ages being above the age of 21, contribute to the possibility that both may play a role in the idea that academic performance may not be in jeopardy due to alcohol intake after a certain point in life. Self-Report was also another major limitation of the study. As a researcher, no one should rely solely on the self-report of those participating in their study because level of accuracy is key.
For instance, in the study done by a handful of researchers was conducted on the premises that students would be honest about their drinking habits when they enrolled in an alcohol awareness and preparation course. They discovered that most were not truthful and results were skewed and unreliable (Lewis, Marchell, Lesser, Reyna, & Kubicki-Bedford, 2009). One cannot assume that a person will not lie, forget, or make up what they need or want a researcher to believe. Unfortunately, the deception of the study was probably not enough to fool people into admitting exactly what their current rades were. Based upon previous research administered by Musgrave-Marquart, Bromley, and Daley (1997) it is unlikely to have “mostly A’s” and be intoxicated at least 3 times a week. The institution restriction and topic of discussion also served as confounds within the study. The use of only students from Old Dominion University from one specific classroom was a barrier to the results needed to prove the hypothesis. The topic of discussion can also be considered a sort of taboo. No one really wants to admit that they drink alcohol on a level that is not socially acceptable.
Who really wants to say, “I’m an alcoholic. ”? Not too many people are comfortable admitting that they are alcoholics to their selves, let alone complete strangers. At times, the topic can be difficult to speak about, and this could be a contribution to the results not being up to par with past research. Those who identified themselves as having a high tolerance for alcohol and abnormally frequent drinking behaviors still did not idenitfy themselves as alcoholics. These individuals skewed the survey and showed that they could not admit to what society thinks of as unacceptable (2003).
Finally, the content of measure of the study made it more difficult to find results parallel to the hypothesis. One of the larger confounds of the study was gathering information through a self-reported survey only. My determinant was a 19 question survey with questions that were not of good quality. Some of the questions were too definitive and did not leave room for individuality. Sometimes it can be harder for a person to identify with such specific categories if there is room for another category that is not listed.
Results become an issue when a question from the content of measure (the survey) is mandatory but does not necessarily fully apply to the participant. If a participant happens to fall in between two options such as drinking once a week or more than three times a week, but the option is not available, that person will be forced to answer to the best of their ability instead of with the whole truth. This person may drink twice a week but because that is not an option, they will report drinking more or less than they actually do according to the study offering skewed results.
The study cannot fulfill its true objective because of the lack of quality within the questions. This source explains how social drinking can turn into a lifestyle and the longitudinal survey collected data on drinking from August 2004 through November 2007. The longitudinal survey data that was collected can cover a large amount of data versus short-term data (Fromme, Wertherill, & Neal, 2010). For future directions, I would suggest that anyone conducting a study that is related to the relationship between alcohol and academic performance use a study that is longitudinal for the desired results to prove such a hypothesis.
Most of the background research on this particular study has been performed over long periods of time with many diverse groups. There should be a more diverse sample with people attempting to find accurate results about such a topic. Different forms of administration would most certainly help researchers with correct findings. Researchers could use interviews, assessments, or even an evaluation to gather information about Researchers must not restrict themselves to only one form of administration of their tests. There are other ways to gather personal information in an ethical manner.
Instead of using a survey to cover all of the information, maybe researchers could use a questionnaire that screens alcohol usage only and then ask students to submit their grades. The questions that were asked were very vague and broad. For example, “What are your currents grades like? ” could have been more useful if the options were more specific instead of “Mostly A’s” or “Mostly B’s”. A future researcher should focus on the questions’ style content and quality vs. quantity. I would also suggest that when conducting such a study in the future that there is a better measure of honesty.
A researcher could find an ethical way to verify grades such as report cards or a transcript. There are many ways to verify concrete information such as current grades. Progress reports or past report cards (if applicable) can be considered verification of some of the answers provided in such a study. The benefit of using a progress report or a transcript to report concrete information is that there is no room for error report. It could also increase the willingness to report truthful drinking behavior if the participant is not asked any questions about their personal performance and personal lifestyle simultaneously.
The most important thing that should be considered if this study were to be repeated would be the content of measure. Accurate research results often require more than one content of measure. One cannot possibly know all there is to discover about a relationship between two factors if there is only one definitive determining factor. It would be beneficial for there to be more than one way to find out information. More specific questions and verified responses should be created for participants and researchers alike to ensure that the most accurate results are produced.
In this study the relationship between alcohol intake and academic performance was measured by administration of a survey which asked about whether or not drinking habits had any significant behavior on academic performance. The survey asked questions about students’ typical drinking behavior and current and cumulative grades to define the relationship between the two. It was expected that we would find patterns for people who drink more to have lower grades, and the people who drank less were expected to have higher grades.
The results found that there was no significant relationship between drinking frequency and academic performance. Previous research suggests that there is a strong negative relationship between the two. It appears that in this study we may have a false null hypothesis. The study did not find the desired results, but if performed correctly on another occasion, there should be no doubt that the results will support the hypothesis. It appears that colleges may have to implement harsher sanctions for students who cannot remain up to par academically.
This may serve as motivation for these students not to attend college for the wrong reasons. Although the results of this particular study do not demonstrate the idea that drinking alcohol has an adverse effect on academia, previous research suggests otherwise. Maybe if the atmosphere of college and the stereotype of college was not surrounded by the idea of alcohol, students would be more reluctant to pursue higher education without responsible attitudes. I would suggest that all universities place guidelines on the amount of partying for at least the first few years of students’ college careers.
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