Dunkin Donuts claims that America runs on it, but do college students actually run on caffeine?
Senior and Psychology major Alex Pacifico has been conducting research for her senior project in hopes of finding if caffeine does in fact impact grades.
“My project is based on caffeine and cognition. It’s looking at pre and post-tests for moods that are based on anxiety and tiredness. It is a self-evaluation; participants are evaluating themselves before and after. They are taking a short SAT prep test, that’s where I get the cognition. There are three separate caffeine groups, zero milligrams, which is the placebo, 15 milligrams and then 100. It is just caffeine tablets dissolved in soymilk,” Pacifico said.
Pacifico said she personally drinks plenty of coffee herself.
She decided to research over the summer what the relation between caffeine and college students was and couldn’t find much, which resulted in her researching it herself.
Assisting Pacifico with the project has been her advisor, Dr.Donna Viveiros.
“My advisor has been really great. I met with her last semester and last year. We discussed how we thought this would happen. It took a couple months to put the project together myself and then I had to write a thesis statement along with a 20-page paper and then I would have to present that at a conference,” Pacifico said.
She continued, “I just met with her to analyze my data. I don’t rely on her much because it’s pretty independent so I only go to her if I have questions or need support. Mostly this semester I have just been collecting data so I haven’t needed her much until now when I have to analyze it.”
Recently, Pacifico accepted a position at San Diego State University for graduate school, where she will be studying Student Affairs and Higher Education for school counseling.
She said that the research and project was on her resume for graduate school and that by doing undergraduate research it made her a better candidate for the program.
Pacifico said, “Once the project is done, my 20-page paper will be finalized and then on top of that I am creating a poster for the Academic Excellence Conference and I will be presenting it there.”
Participating in the study is sophomore and double major in Management and Communications Kristen Reid.
Reid decided to participate in the study because her friends from Psi Upsilon (Psi U) were telling her about it so she decided to go and check it out.
She said, “I don’t consume as much caffeine as most college students but I do have a coffee occasionally, more this semester than normal. I drink tea sometimes but it’s mostly just coffee.”
Reid said she had no idea what she had gotten herself into by participating in this research, besides that she would work with caffeine.
Another participant is junior and Communication major with a focus in Philosophy and minor in Environmental Studies Alyssa Bailey.
She said she was participating in the study to “help a homie out,” as she and Pacifico are friends and Resident Assistants together.
Bailey really enjoys coffee.
“I drink one cup of coffee every single day. I need it to function. Occasionally I will have tea, but mostly coffee,” Bailey said.
Bailey said she was unsure of what to expect when she agreed to participate in the study. “I have no idea what I’m getting into but I’m excited,” Bailey said.
Pacifico concluded by giving advice to students.
“For students in the future, or for Keene State community as a whole it’s pretty sad how hard it is to get people to want to be involved in the study. I have been running it for two and a half to three months now and I still need 30 people. As a whole, even with how involved I am and how many people I know on campus it’s just pretty sad seeing the lack of involvement.”
Emma Hamilton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org