A group of 14 Centre College students from Assistant Professor of Sociology Kaelyn Wiles’ research methods course recently presented data on the primary obstacles to recovery from opioid addiction in Danville–Boyle County.
Students in the course participated in a semester-long community-based learning project in which they collected and analyzed data for their community partner, the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP).
“The point of their research was to gather data that could be used by local agencies to support those struggling with addiction in Boyle County,” Wiles said. “This is a chance for the students to learn how to conduct research in a setting that matters and that could potentially help the community.”
Wiles added that, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 114 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The rate of the opioid-related overdose deaths is nearly double the national rate, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse Reports.
“We have very limited data about obstacles to recovery in Boyle County specifically, and this project helps fill that gap,” she said. “This is also our chance to celebrate and say thank you to our community partners and everyone who so generously donated their time to helping the students collect this data.”
Members of the campus community, as well as the Danville community, were invited to hear the results of their research. Those in attendance included Kathy Miles, director of Boyle County ASAP; Brent Blevins, director of the Boyle County Health Department; and Ron Scott, Danville’s city manager.
During the session, the students presented findings from their surveys, which included interviews with members of the Danville–Boyle County community who are either in recovery or stakeholders who work regularly with those in recovery.
Wiles explained how, throughout the semester, the students learned and applied many of the basic methods of sociological research, such as field observation, interviewing and survey administration.
“Partnering with Boyle County ASAP brought the research methods class to life, and the students devoted themselves to learning each method as we moved through the semester,” Wiles added. “Because we were working with one topic for the entire semester, students were also able to compare methods, express a preference for one method over another and see the benefits of using a mixed-methods approach.
“Students not only learned the methods themselves,” she continued, “but also developed skills in critical thinking and problem solving as they tried to figure out how to collect the best data possible, given the constraints of the class.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
November 28, 2018