School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Student Research

In the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, we understand the increasing importance of performing student research. This is why we provide our students the unique opportunity to engage with faculty on a variety of research topics both inside and outside the classroom. Faculty work with students to collect and analyze data, as well as to present their findings at both regional and national conferences within the fields of Criminal Justice, Education, Psychology, and Social Work

Photo of student presenting research

Faculty Research Labs

Social and Behavioral Sciences faculty run labs with established programs of research. These labs address a variety of vital research topics, from basic psychological processes to inclusive curriculum development, which influence their fields. Undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to get involved in one of the current faculty-led research labs or propose their own student-directed study. All students involved in research receive mentorship on study design, data collection, and analysis processes. Students may also apply for funding to support their efforts. Students have presented their work at a variety of on- and off-campus venues such as:

Students interested in joining a faculty-mentored research lab should contact the department chair of their respective department.

Marist Center for Social Justice Research (MCSJR) 

The Marist Center for Social Justice Research (MCSJR) is an interdisciplinary research center across the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. MCSJR brings together faculty, students and community partners into collaborative teams to conduct applied social science research.

All MCSJR studies have a dual purpose: they build rigorous new knowledge in the content area while also making a direct impact on the Mid-Hudson Valley region. MCSJR teams also emphasize equitable partnerships and cross-project dialogue. Students, faculty, and community partners have presented at local as well as national conferences and conducted workshops on the process of building a program of engaged research. Please contact Carol Rinke ( to get involved.

Student Research Projects

Criminal Justice

Locked Up Alone: Correctional Practitioners Reflect on the Effects of Solitary Confinement

Photo of student presenting researchFrom the perspective of mental health practitioners, this study examines the effects that solitary confinement has on incarcerated individuals. The data were collected by interviewing mental health professionals who work in correctional facilities. The findings support previous research on the negative impact of solitary confinement. Additionally, the data revealed how the practice affects the mental health professionals. Overall, the findings indicate that the practice is detrimental to the incarcerated individuals and the professionals. This research was presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences International Annual Conference and at an on campus seminar celebrating undergraduate research.

Transient Crime: Law Enforcement Perspectives

Photo of student board presentationMost cities contain hot spots of crime that fluctuate in size and duration requiring excessive resources. Changes in police responses to combat concentrated crime areas are known as hot spot policing strategies. Initial inquiries regarding hot spots policing strategies have been promising, but have not focused on displacement of criminal activity. Qualitative interviews conducted with 20 respondents from within law enforcement are analyzed to determine the efficacy of hot spots policing and its unintended consequences. This study develops a conceptual framework for transient crime and finds that police officers believe this policing strategy relocates crime to neighboring jurisdictions. This research was presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) International Annual Conference, as well as a regional conference for ACJS, and at an on campus seminar celebrating undergraduate research.

Wilderness Program Takes a Right Turn for At-Risk Youth

Photo of student board presentationThe purpose of this research study is to aide in determining best practices in wilderness programs. This study sought to qualitatively assess related protective factors areas associated with those in Merenda and Argueta (2018) that was shown to minimize risk factors for at risk youth. This study examines the effects in the areas of conflict resolution, communication and community with the hope to glean further best practices that could be implemented in an existing wilderness program and be researched further. This study utilizes the Youth at Risk Program Evaluation Tool that has been empirically supported to identify the effects of wilderness programming on youths (Neill, 2012). For the purpose of this paper, wilderness programming will be defined as an experiential adventure-based program that utilizes the wilderness for risk, educational lessons, and growth for at-risk adolescents. This research has been presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) International Annual Conference, and at an on campus seminar celebrating undergraduate research.


Photo of education student presenting researchNancy Montemerlo Presents at CURSCA 2018

Nancy Montemerlo presented findings from her independent study on increasing the rate at which second grade students who are learning English as a new language (ENL) learn sight word vocabulary. The findings showed that her intervention, which used picture symbols to bridge the English and native language text for each word on the Grade 2 list of sight words, helped the students to increase the number of words learned in each session as compared to Traditional Drill and Practice (TDP).


Implicit Associations Between Race and Drugs

Photo of Psychology student presenting research

Nicole Cochis, Kimery Levering

A new version of the Implicit Association Test was created to analyze potential implicit associations between race and drugs. One picture (black or white face) or word (illicit drug or neutral plant) was presented in the center of a computer screen and participants indicated (using left and right keys) which category it belonged to. IAT scores were calculated by taking the average latency of trials in which drug words were paired with black faces was subtracted from latency of trials in which drug words were paired with white faces for each subject. In addition to the Implicit Association Test, participants were asked a number of questions about their exposure to drugs and drug-users in order to see if level of bias is related to these factors. Results showed that participants, on average, responded more quickly when black faces and drug words were co-presented on the same side of the screen. Participants who had higher estimates of personal drug usage as compared to their peers had smaller IAT scores, indicating less bias.

Gender Differences in Hookup Behavior

Photo of Psychology student presenting research

Martin Heck, Kimery Levering

The growing popularity of hookup culture among emerging adults, particularly college students, represents the potential to examine gender related differences in sexual behavior dominating the current zeitgeist. 682 Marist College students completed an online survey examining the frequency of hookups, specific hookup behaviors, and attitudes about others who hook up based between genders. Men reporting significantly higher percentages of each listed hookup behavior when compared to women, while also reporting a stronger bias towards those who commonly hook up.

Doodling Compared to Note Taking During a Lecture and Memory Retention

Photo of Psychology student presenting researchTara James, Kimery Levering

Research has found that creative tasks increase memory retention. The current study investigates whether doodling while listening to an audio lecture in an academic environment improves memory. Participants were randomly assigned to doodle, take notes, or do nothing while listening to an audio lecture about the Danish scientist Nicolas Steno, after which they completed a test on the content. Unlike previous research, a one-way ANOVA revealed no significant differences between the conditions.

Social Work

Photo of Social Work students presenting researchMegan Lykkehoy and Melissa Dos Santos presented at the 7th annual Social Work Student Advocacy Research conference at Dominican College on: Indirect aggression and its affect among women and Self-love deficit disorder: Renaming Co-dependency.