By Angela Henneberger, recent Curry graduate and YN researcher (PhD, Applied Developmental Science, ’12)
The 2012 annual Society for Prevention Research (SPR) convention was held on May 29–June 1, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, DC. It is very exciting to me that the theme of this year’s conference was “Promoting Healthy Living Through Prevention Science.” This Spring, I had the opportunity to attend the Youth-Nex summit, a gathering of prominent researchers in the field of prevention and positive youth development. One of the main points that I took away from attending this summit was the need to merge prevention and promotion to ultimately better the outcomes for children. It seems like a move in this direction for the Society for Prevention Research to include the term “promoting” in the title of its annual convention.
One of the best-attended symposiums at the SPR convention is the Sloboda and Bukoski Cup, named after two of the founding members of SPR. The SPR Cup is a friendly competition between five teams of graduate students and post-docs across the nation. Each team receives a dataset approximately two months prior to the symposium. Each team must do a literature review, ask research questions fitting to the data, and conduct a thorough data analysis. Each team then creates a 10-minute presentation for the symposium. The symposium is judged by the audience and a team of senior prevention scientist judges and is judged based on 7 criterion: innovation, depth and usefulness of statistical analyses, ability to draw meaningful conclusions from the data, significance of the project to prevention science, quality of verbal presentation, quality of visual presentation, and overall impression.
This is the second year that Youth-Nex has had a team in the SPR Cup competition. Both years, Youth-Nex has paired up with graduate students and post-doctoral researchers at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL). This year’s team members included myself, Peter Lovegrove, Valerie Futch, Michelle Maier, and Ross Larsen. Our mentors were Chris Hafen and Patrick Tolan. Our team took an innovative approach to the examination of a risk-based dataset, the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study (ASAPS). As a team, we decided that it would be useful to examine data from this prevention-based dataset using a promotion standpoint. We asked does positive youth development (as defined by internal assets) moderate the relation between individual perceptions of substance use at school and future individual substance use? Our findings indicate that positive youth development protects youth against the increase in substance use associated with high perceptions of substance use in school.
These findings are promising to me in two ways. First, the findings indicate that it is possible to examine data from a prevention-based dataset using a promotion standpoint. Second, I hope that research will continue in this direction and may even lead to the collection of data that focuses on both prevention and promotion in one dataset. The team is now preparing the article for publication.