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Jordan Sweeney ‘17

“The Role of Physical Activity in the Overall College Experience: How students and athletic directors perceive the challenges and benefits of staying physically active while in college.”

Minor/Major: Sociology Major
Hometown: Dunmore, PA
Project advisor: Dr. Virginia Adams O’Connell

Briefly describe your project.

I am trying to understand the challenges that students face trying to stay physically active while in college. I am working with Dr. Virginia Adams O'Connell, to study college students' and athletic directors' perceptions of physical activity on college campuses in the Lehigh Valley to understand those important components of the culture of health and well-being. This study is an attempt to understand the roles physical education and physical activity play on college campuses, especially given their links to academic performance and to mental and physical health.

Why did you decide to turn your idea into a SOAR project?

Dr. Adams O’Connell and I worked on developing the research idea through the research methods courses she taught.  As I plan to attend the M.S. in Athletic Training program here at Moravian after graduation this spring, I  wanted to make a connection between my major and my career goals. I went to Dr. Adams O’Connell at the beginning of the Fall semester to express my interest in participating in the SOAR program as an opportunity for me to gain valuable research experience and to make this connection. We brainstormed some ideas and then we refined the project during the academic year. We are also expanding on the study to continue it as an Honors thesis. It has been a long process, to say the least!

How did your faculty advisor guide you through your research?

Working with Dr. Adams O’Connell has been beneficial because I have been able to learn everything about the research process for sociology. Being able to execute my own research project while working with my advisor has proven to be the best way to learn about the research process.

What was your biggest obstacle?

It was definitely hard getting in contact with all of the people I wanted to interview and scheduling the interviews. Getting into contact with the right people was a challenge, and finding a time for us to meet for the interviews was tough. Some of the people I had hoped to interview were understandably busy preparing for the upcoming semester, but we were able to get plenty of information from our interviews. 

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

 This experience has taught me how much work must be put in to complete a research project, and how it is necessary to be fluid throughout the process due to unexpected and unpredictable challenges.

What was the result of your project?

We will have results of the project in the Spring semester, as we will be continuing the study as an Honors thesis.  

Will you expand on your research after this summer is over? If so, where would you like to see it go?

Through continuing the study as and Honors thesis we hope to present the essay we will compile at the Eastern Sociological Society annual meeting in the spring, and to publish the essay in an academic journal.

The SOAR experience is the perfect opportunity for all students to explore their interests in their field of study.  I encourage students from all disciplines to take advantage of this great opportunity offered at Moravian. Through the program, students can gain a deeper understanding of their discipline and personal interests while working in an environment that promotes advanced scholarly thought. I feel privileged to have been given the chance to start my research through the SOAR program.