Student Research


Students at the BSSW and MSW degree levels learn to use science-based evidence to guide their practice, and the use of scientific method to evaluate their efforts is a key aspect of our curricula.

At the doctoral level, students engage independent inquiry related to a number of important topics. Below is a sampling of the excellent and innovative work our students engage in.


Quality of life is important across the age spectrum.  A recent graduate from our PhD Program, Dr. Noelle Fields, studied the personal and environmental factors that influence how long older adults are able to stay in Assisted Living facilities, which is an indication of their quality of life in those facilities. Examining the administrative records of 218 residents admitted to three programs over a five year period, Dr. Fields learned that the median length of stay in the programs was a little more than two and a half years (32 months).  Significant predictors of length of stay included the number of medical diagnoses a resident had, a level of care score, and the facility itself, indicating that different facilities are able to maintain longer lengths of stay.  Dr. Fields recently accepted a position as assistant professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas Arlington where she will teach and continue her research.


Danielle Ruderman completed her MSW thesis about undergraduate students with disabilities. In a summary of her project, Danielle writes:

“The purpose of this study was to identify factors associated with academic outcomes among undergraduate students with disabilities. A retrospective cohort study design was used to examine academic performance among a split-half, random sample of 233 undergraduate students who enrolled into the Ohio State University Office of Disability Services (ODS) from 7/1/2003 to 6/30/2005. A majority, 74.2%, of the sample graduated from OSU, and of those that graduated, 91.3% earned their degree within six years. Minority students and students with a higher grade point average at intake were more likely to graduate within six to eight years. Older students and students enrolled part-time were less likely to graduate or graduate within six years. Students who registered for accommodations during their freshmen year were more likely to graduate within six years. Students majoring in Arts and Sciences graduated with lower final grade point averages than other students. Additionally, students with higher grade point averages at intake were more likely to display higher grade point averages at graduation. University administrators and Disability Services program directors and staff seeking to enhance academic performance among undergraduate students with disabilities are advised to enroll students during their first year, and to target risk groups, including non-traditional and part-time students, those majoring in Arts and Sciences and those with low initial grade point averages.”


A recent graduate of our undergraduate social work program, Julie Cochran, completed her senior honors thesis on the conceptualization of gender nonconformity among mental health professionals. Julie says of her project:

“Individuals that are gender nonconforming often experience discrimination, violence, and limited social support. Our culture conceptualizes gender in such a way that it makes it almost impossible for gender nonconforming individuals to express themselves freely without running into problems from the outside environment. Social support is imperative to individuals’ ability to be resilient in their environments, and mental health professionals are responsible for helping individuals achieve higher levels of social support. Since this is so, it is imperative for mental health professionals to understand the experiences of gender nonconforming individuals in such a way that ensures they will not have transphobic beliefs, stereotypes, and biases. With limited research available to guide practice, this exploratory study seeks to further explore the way in which mental health professionals from several different disciplines conceptualize gender nonconformity and how this conceptualization is related to transphobia utilizing queer theory as a theoretical framework. A questionnaire was administered to mental health professionals working at several mental health agencies in Columbus, Ohio. This research will produce a greater understanding of how mental health professionals conceptualize gender nonconformity and help identify potential needs for further research and education in this area.”