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Nursing major focuses on diet quality and academic success

Kylee in nursing scrubs sitting on steps

Senior Nursing major Kylee Wickline’s undergraduate research project focuses on diet quality and academic success, a topic she is passionate about (she also researched the effects of food on mental health in another class). She says, “I feel this research is important because the psychological aspects of food and diet are not well researched and there should be a bigger spotlight on that.” In this way, she believes we can take a bigger picture and more multidimensional approach to doing better in school.

In her “Diet Quality and Academic Success” project Wickline looked at York College students’ diets and academic progress to see if there is any correlation between the two. “I looked at students’ intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, other meats, alcohol, fast food, and supplements and compared it to their GPA, number of times on the Dean’s list, credit hours that semester, and hours spent studying. No results were statistically significant, but with alcohol having the closest impact on GPA, I had limitations in amount and demographics of participants and there were extraneous variables that could have changed the outcome of the data,” she says.

What did she learn?

A big challenge of this research, she explains, was reaching a representative sample of the York College population. She didn’t have the tools to reach as many people as she would have liked to make the sample reflect the diversity of the school. For Wickline, a highlight of the research was just being able to embark on a topic that is not well understood or researched for the college population.

 “I learned from this work that there are very few studies that look at the college student population and the impact diet could have on their academic success. More research would have to be conducted on a larger scale.” The results of this study indicate that diet quality, “good” or “bad,” does not impact a college student’s GPA. Based on the literature review findings, diet quality is more likely to impact children’s or adolescents’ academic success than college students’ diet quality impacts their academic success.

Wickline won’t be able to continue this research because she doesn’t have the resources to expand on what she has found so far, but she firmly believes this is a field that deserves more attention. “It would be wonderful if someone were to take inspiration from my work and research and conduct studies to find more information on the topic.”

Praise for her research

Assistant Professor of Sport Management, Michael Mudrick, PhD, was Wickline’s research faculty mentor. She says he helped her develop her research question, as well as played a major role in leading her to the correct analytical tools so that her data could be analyzed correctly and easily interpreted.

Mudrick says of her work: “Kylee’s project exceeded expectations in every area and demonstrated outstanding ability to conduct research. First, the study idea filled a necessary gap in the field. Then, she obtained a strong sample to answer her research question and was able to articulate her findings in a way that was quite educational for the audience. Kylee showed that she is an exceptional researcher, which is certainly of benefit in her field, and I have no doubt that she will continue to excel in her future endeavors.”