UI students raise awareness by required course


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While the transition from high school to college often sparks a slew of emotions, each new freshman class is eventually faced with a number of real-life challenges.

With this idea in mind, University of Iowa officials say a relatively new mandatory online course is successfully helping guide them.

College Expectations, taught by Stephanie Beecher, provides important information that students will eventually need on campus.

“As long as they know that at some point at Iowa they can turn to the course, and down the road, have this information when they need it and be useful to them,” Beecher said.

The course, now in its third year, requires all new undergraduates and transfer students to participate. Beecher said in just those three short years, the course has successfully affected students.

Beecher said among the several questions asked, one example was when students were asked how often they would engage in communicating clearly with dates about their sexual intentions, 25 percent of the responders answered “always” during the pre-test last year.

UI sophomore Danielle DeRouen said after taking the course two semesters ago, it taught her that her single risk factor was alcohol.

She said the course taught her that a blood alcohol content of 0.07 to 0.125 is considered to be in the moderate-risk category.

After being surveyed in the course, she learned that she had an average blood-alcohol content of 0.09, landing in the beginning stage of having a moderate risk of becoming an alcoholic.

“[The course] changed my perspective,” she said. “I’m kind of like a fitness freak … per drink is 140 calories, so it would take me two hours of straight running of loosing one drink of calories.”

Following the completion of the course, 79 percent of the responders said “always.”

The program is divided into three components: eCheckup To Go, an online information center for student related alcohol use; nformd.net, a sexual prevention platform; and MAP-Works, an online survey that helps aid in the student transition process that suggests a number of campus resources.

Michelle Cohenour, the director of the Retention Office, said the course aims to bring about student and campus awareness while providing important information that is essential in the first few weeks of the new year.

The Office of Retention partnered with 15 different campus offices, including the Academic Advising Center, Center for Diversity and Enrichment, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“It takes a large group — committed faculty and staff — to help the program run,” Cohenour said.

Approximately 99 percent of the roughly 4,500 first-year students participated in MAP-Works in 2012, she said. Just 40 students who did not participate in the survey cited personal reasons as an excuse.  

To date, MAP-Works has generated roughly 200 student-survey responses after launching Sept. 8.
UI freshman Ana Hertz said she finished the course on Monday and gained more knowledge on sexual assault than ever before.

“The videos are actually kind of informative and I didn’t expect them to be, so that was good,” Hertz said. “The drinking aspect of it­ — probably made sense because we’re the No. 1 party school — but it was good as it was reflective upon yourself and how your habits might affect your studies and stuff.”

UI sophomore Michael Edwards said the course informed him how to find his way throughout campus, effectively use websites, and brought awareness to the effects of alcohol.

“I guess you can say you learned about how [alcohol] can affect you even though everyone kind of understands it,” he said. “It’s always nice to remind you what it can do.”

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