McNair Scholars Undergraduate Research Journal, 2008, Vol. 1

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    The University of Maryland McNair Scholars Undergraduate Research Journal, Volume 1
    (2008) Lewis, Jerry L. (Editor); Southerland, Wallace III (Editor)
    The McNair Scholars Undergraduate Research Journal is a collection of abstracts and papers written by McNair scholars at the University of Maryland ( ). Part One includes only abstracts from the Summer Class of 2007. Part Two includes abstracts of some students and featured abbreviated papers of other students from the Summer Class of 2008.
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    The Effects of Reality vs. Fantasy Based First-Person Shooting Video Games on Adolescent Behavior
    (2008) Travers, Christopher; Southerland, Wallace III
    This conceptual paper reviewed the literature on violent video games and aggression. Using the General Aggression Model as a framework, this study provides evidence to support the relationship between video game violence and aggressiveness. To address the lack of research on first-person shooter (FPS) video games found in the literature, a future study will be proposed observing different types of first-person shooter video games (reality and fantasy) and the effects they may have on adolescent behavior. Consistent with the General Aggression Model, findings showed increases in aggression for adolescents exposed to violent video games. While research shows first-person shooter video games increase adolescent aggressiveness, evidence on different types of first-person shooter games and their effects on adolescent behavior were inconclusive. However, research reported by Potter (1988) showed that viewers tend to experience more emotional and behavioral issues when viewing reality based media. In addition, Anderson and Bushman (2002) reported that empirical evidence shows that violent video games and aggressiveness have a positive and significant relationship. The grouping of Anderson and Bushman (2002) and Potter (1988), provide evidence that adolescent aggressiveness will be higher when playing reality based first-person shooter games in comparison to fantasy based first-person shooter video games.
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    A Conceptual Paper on Factors That Affect Public Perceptions of Welfare
    (2008) Yarborough, Connie; Southerland, Wallace III
    This is a conceptual paper to study the effects of external factors on public perceptions of social welfare. The study reviews literature on the history of social welfare during the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and William Clinton. The paper goes on to analyze three factors that play role on perceptions. These factors are values, environmental factors (economics and politics), and the media. Studies and surveys from Gilens, Gilliam, Los Angeles Times, and the National Election study were analyzed and discussed throughout the paper in the context of factors that influence perceptions. The factors outlined in the paper are analyzed using the theoretical framework of symbolic-interactionism. Symbolic-interactionism states that people act toward things based on the meaning those things have to them; and these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation (Blumer, 1969).The model is appropriate for this inquiry because it allows the reader to understand how public perceptions are influenced. Minimal biased methods were used for acquiring literature for the paper. A number of databases in fields such as sociology, social sciences, psychology, and economics were used to acquire literature on the topic. Methods for conducting future research on the effects of experience on perceptions and attitudes towards welfare are provided. The findings of the paper include the types of factors that play a role on perceptions (values, environmental factors, and media), what factor appears to be most influential (media) and whether public perceptions of welfare has changed over time. Conclusions from the literature are drawn that states that living in society plays a key role in how perceptions are made, but the individual’s interpretation of the information should be taken into consideration. The paper ends with recommendations on future research on how experience with welfare affects perceptions and attitudes towards welfare; and future research to better public perceptions of welfare.
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    Traditional Medicine in the Gambia
    (2008) Peterson, Ana; Roberts, William
    The practice of traditional medicine is an important aspect of Gambian life and culture. It has existed in the country since before the arrival of western medicine and even the Islamic religion. Although there have been some additions to the methods of traditional healers of The Gambia since the coming of Islam, many of the values and concepts remain as they were when traditional medicine began. Modern medicine, that is the diagnosis and treatment of patients using scientific study and clinical trials, is the predominant form of healthcare for citizens of the United States while in The Gambia, seeking medical attention from traditional healers still remains to be a popular means of treatment. The popularity of traditional medicine continues to climb in the country, which in some ways can be attributed to the president, Alhagi Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, who claims to be working to acquire cures of devastating diseases using traditional medicine. Initially, I was interested in following the topic of traditional medicine mostly because I found the idea of using plants as medicine intriguing. The use of medicinal plants is also an attractive subject with the current increasing appeal of herbal remedies and medicines in the United States. Keeping this fact in mind, I wanted to investigate the role herbal remedies played in a culture much different from that of the United States. Being a chemistry student without much prior knowledge about traditional medicine in The Gambia, I was under the impression that I might find many herbalists eager to reveal all of the herbs they used, what sicknesses the herbs treated, and what chemical compounds made these herbs. Upon learning more, I recognized that this was not always going to be the case. My purposes for research evolved into much more modest goals: to establish an understanding of the traditional form of healthcare in The Gambia, the measures being taken to integrate traditional medicine into the modern healthcare system, and the reasons for the effectiveness of herbal medicines. As well as being a way in which people attempt to remain healthy, traditional medicine is also a large piece of the culture that represents The Gambia. Traditional medicine remains within the culture by way of the practitioners from one generation passing the knowledge to members of the next generation. In this way, the title of traditional healer can remain within a family for many generations. The continuation of the knowledge of a traditional healer being put into practice is dependent upon the traditional healer himself. By taking a close look at the work of traditional healers in many areas of The Gambia, I was able to come into contact with a part of the country’s culture.
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    Family Environmental Characteristics Associated with Obesity in African American High School Girls
    (2008) Stevenson, Nicole; Skasvig, Brit Irene
    Adolescent obesity is prevalent in America. African American girls are at a disproportion risk for developing obesity. Family environment has been shown to be associated with obesity in African American adolescent girls. Examining the family environmental factors further reveals there association with obesity. This study is examining key environmental factors associated with obesity in that population. This study uses secondary analysis of the baseline data from Project Heart (PH), a physical activity intervention trial at a high school with the goal of increasing physical activity levels. Two hundred twenty- one (221) girls participated. Most of them were African American (83%) and age 13-15 years. They completed questionnaires covering aspects of their family environment, and the data analysis showed the factors association with girl’s obese status. Chi squared test and T-test were used to show significant differences between the two groups of obese and non obese girls in relation to their parents obesity status. Twenty-nine percent of the girls were obese, BMI’s at or over the 95 percentile specific for age and sex. 71% of the girls were not obese. 35% of those obese girls had > 1 parent who is obese compared to 15% of non obese girls having > 1 parent obese. The rest of the data analysis is in progress (chart and graphs in development). The data represented girl’s perception in terms of reporting parent obese status, making them inaccurate. The measures used within the data set analysis are family intimacy, family support and family physical activity. The family intimacy scale is very important environmental characteristic when predicting levels of physical activity/non activity in the high school girls and should be continue to be used in other research. There have not been many studies with predominately African American girls. In the future, more in-depth research on the different type of environments needs to be conducted.