Grant supports AlcoholEdu program for incoming students

December 05, 2007

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State has received a $245,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support implementation of the AlcoholEdu® for College program in an effort to help reverse the increasing behavior of dangerous drinking among the college-age demographic.

In the program, which will be implemented University-wide, students who have accepted an offer of admission for fall or summer 2008 must complete three of four online modules prior to arriving for classes. The fourth module will be completed during students' first semester at Penn State.

"It's important to bring the benefit of online education from AlcoholEdu to our incoming students to help them make healthier, safer decisions regarding alcohol consumption," said Linda LaSalle, coordinator of health education services at Penn State. "We are grateful to the Knight Foundation for their support and hope this program will help minimize the unfortunate consequences students may experience from a lack of awareness about the dangers of high-risk drinking."

"The Knight Foundation is very pleased to support this innovative program to help educate entering Penn State students about the risks of dangerous drinking," added Julie Tarr, evaluation director and State College program director for the Knight Foundation's Communities Program.

According to the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's Task Force on College Drinking, "the consequences of excessive and underage drinking affect virtually all college campuses, college communities and college students, whether they choose to drink or not."

More than 200 universities across the United States have implemented AlcoholEdu services, offered by Boston-based company Outside the Classroom. Among those are Boston College, University of California-Berkeley and Big Ten schools Indiana University-Bloomington and the University of Iowa.

"Dangerous drinking by college students nationwide has widespread and alarming consequences, from academic problems to unintentional injury and worse. We felt it was important to educate our incoming students about the very real dangers to which excessive drinking exposes them," said Rodney Erickson, executive vice president and provost of the University, who also serves on the Knight Foundation's Community Advisory Committee in State College. 

A study published in 2005 in the Annual Review of Public Health noted that 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die every year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. The same study reported that 599,000 students under the influence of alcohol are unintentionally injured, more than 696,000 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, more than 97,000 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape, 400,000 have unprotected sex and more than 100,000 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.

AlcoholEdu offers participants a choice of one of five student "guides" to lead them through either streaming video or audio modules, titled "Knowing the Facts," "Planning Your Decisions," "Review and Exam" and -- to be completed after students arrive at Penn State -- "Deciding for Yourself." Online content includes a glossary and current research about alcohol's effects on health, academic performance and crimes such as sexual assaults.

To evaluate the program's effectiveness, Outside the Classroom tracks data anonymously regarding students' responses to the program through test scores and level of program completion. According to the company's Web site, students who completed the program in summer and fall 2005 reported an increase in practical knowledge about the effects of alcohol consumption as well as an increase in motivation to change negative behavior and make safer decisions.

More information about AlcoholEdu is available online at http://www.alcoholedu.com.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009