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Campus Norms

Stall Seat Research

Campus Norms > Stall Seat Research

VCU Students are healthier than you think!

Do the statistics used in VCU's Stall Seat Journal have an effect on behavior? 

Students and staff at the Well work hard to tell the truth about VCU student’s behavior in order to reduce common misperceptions and grow health behaviors.

Each month, the Well team posts nearly 1,300 Stall Seat Journals (SSJ) in bathrooms across both Monroe Park and MCV campuses. Many of those SSJs include statistics about VCU students collected from our online health survey conducted in the spring of even years from 5,000 randomly selected VCU undergraduate and graduate students.   

Many of the norms shared in the SSJ relate to alcohol use behavior

For decades researchers have persistently shown that college students over-estimate how much and how often their peers drink alcohol. The Theory of Misperception and the Social Norms Approach strategy related to it have demonstrated that students overestimate alcohol use by others, and if misperceptions are corrected, then alcohol consumption will be lowered and harm will be reduced.

Alcohol behavioral norms:

We took data from our 2015 National College Health Assessment at VCU to craft behavioral norms that tell an accurate picture of our students' alcohol consumption (VCU NCHA data 2014 n=1,104).   

“Most students (71%) drank between 0-4 drinks the last time they partied/socialized."

“Most students (70%) drink between 0-5 times per month."

Visit our Issuu site to see all of the Stall Seat Journals and alcohol statistics posted during 2014-2015 academic year.

Are we busy or are we effective?

While it’s awesome to spread the truth, it would be helpful to know if it makes a difference. Measuring change on a complex behavior like drinking in a large and diverse place like VCU is not an easy task and one beyond the power of The Well’s VCU health survey to measure.  

Spit for Science (S4S): A unique research opportunity to test social norms

In the fall of 2015, a team of students in the Spit for Science (S4s) Undergraduate Research Class (Zackaria Niazi, Rhianna Ericson, Mariam Alshagra) worked with a team of S4S researchers from COBE (Dr. Jinni Su, Dr. Amy Adkins, Dr. Danielle Dick ? Zoe and Kim) and agreed to assist the Well’s faculty (Dr. Linda Hancock, Dr. Amanda McGann) to analyze the effect of the SSJ on perceptions and behavior.  

The team’s hypothesis

High readership of the SSJ would be associated with more accurate perceptions of peer alcohol use, which, in turn would be associated with lower alcohol consumption and lower alcohol consumption would be associated with lower rates of blackouts.

Intervention & Methodology

For the entire academic year 2014-2015, the Well’s team posted SSJ monthly as usual in 1,200 bathrooms. Then in March/April 2015, S4S surveys were collected as scheduled.

The S4S survey already had questions related to alcohol use and alcohol related blackouts. The Well staff requested that two additional questions be added in the spring 2015 instrument. One addressed “perception” and asked, “How many drinks of alcohol do you think the typical VCU student had the last time they socialized?” and the other used a 7 item scale to assess stall seat journal readership “What best describes your reading of the SSJ?” responses ranged from 1. “Never seen it” up to 7. “Read it all multiple times.”

S4S Sample used in study:

Participants were 4,172 students (1,208 freshmen, 1,159 sophomores, 953 juniors, 852 seniors) who completed the online S4S survey in Spring 2015.