Daniela Jopp, Ph.D., assistant professor of applied developmental psychology, is researching how students entering college deal with their new life situations.
She became interested in studying the new college student as a result of her work at Heidelberg University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she studied the interplay between personal resources, strategy use and self-referent beliefs.
“I studied the way these factors helped people develop in life, but particularly in adults of older age, also in centenarians,” she said. “I studied how they set general goals and pursued those goals, how much they were supported by their social resources, as well as their beliefs—what gave them the motivation to think they could do something or whether they felt helpless in certain situations.
“Having explored those elements with respect to adults at old age, I came to wonder, ‘How does it come to be that way? How do we develop those strategies? Do we bring some from our primary families or do we learn about those things when we are in difficult situations?’”
The subject of study—students entering college—is a means to examine, through both subjective and objective measures, the efficacy of specific mechanisms involved in adapting to social stressors.
Jopp plans to conduct an empirical study on 200 students. And, yes, Fordham students are her target study group.
“We will assess them at the beginning of the semester and the beginning of the second year,” Jopp said. “The idea is to have a look at how they experience the situation of starting here, what they have in terms of resources and strategies available when they come, and how much they get stressed in the beginning.”
“Using that information, we hope to figure out whether there have been changes in their resource repertoire, strategies and beliefs. Increase in these factors hopefully shows a positive effect so that they are better able to deal with the situation,” she said.