A Drexel University iSchool student, sophomore Jordan Jobs, was recently given the prestigious opportunity to present her research at the National Council on Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse April 11-13.
NCUR promotes advancement in research with college students and creativity in research done by associating students with faculty members of higher education institutions. Jobs’ research examines the socioeconomic difference that technology can have when utilizing health care information online for many patients.
“In a time where technology is so readily available for people, I wanted to focus on why, in certain areas, health information is not available as easily as it should be,” Jobs said.
During her field research, Jobs recalled giving parents and caretakers surveys on their access to technology, either in general or as it pertains to health information. Jobs’ research mainly involved physical interaction with members of rural and urban areas, which focused on their interactions with technology as well as their ease of access to online health information.
“To strengthen the diversity of my research, I had to go travel and gain information from both rural and urban areas. My question about accessibility to online health information was better answered at [Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia] clinics in urban areas such as Broad and Market Street as well as rural areas such as West Grove and Coatesville, Pa.,” Jobs said.
“I found it surprising how there was such low access of online health information and technology in general when it came to rural areas in Pennsylvania. We, as Drexel students, take things such as surfing the Internet and easy access to online health information for granted at times because we are such a research-driven institution. However, just down the street from us there are neighborhoods that scavenge and thrive in areas with minimal to no technological access at all,” Jobs said. “I am part of the iSchool research program, and my research wasn’t as scientific as it was basically interacting with people and asking them to take surveys and indicate their online health information accessibility. My research data and survey data helped not only my project but CHOP as well because it improved the communication between patients and the clinics that serve them.”
Jobs previously worked on her research with professors Prudence Dalrymple, Lisl Zach and Michelle Rogers. Jobs was part of the 2012 Students Tackling Advanced Research program at Drexel, where she advanced her research and worked on it throughout the summer, gathering data not only from her lab and faculty members but also from different parts of Philadelphia. Jobs’ research, while working with her colleagues and faculty members, primarily deals with collecting data from both urban and rural areas. Jobs noticed a significant divide to access in technology and online health information between rural and urban areas. Urban areas were undoubtedly more equipped with technology than rural areas when it came to ease of access.
Jobs gained interest in research after her summer experience, something she readily advocates for her peers. “Many colleges at Drexel have research divisions, whether it is the engineering college or Arts and Sciences, and since research is such an important aspect in Drexel, it should definitely be encouraged. If a student is interested in performing research, they should contact their professors and set up interviews to be a part of the research that is currently being done at Drexel. It is definitely one of the positive aspects of Drexel that should be taken advantage of,” Jobs said.
Near the end of Jobs’ research project, she discovered a local organization called KEYSPOT, which is under the leadership of Drexel, the Philadelphia city government and the Urban Affairs Coalition. KEYSPOT oversees different programs that provide computer and Internet access and training to people throughout Philadelphia. The target demographics for KEYSPOT services are the economically disadvantaged, the homeless, senior citizens, youth, public housing residents and formerly incarcerated people.
“Their goal is to help bridge the digital divide in Philadelphia. If you look around the site in the ‘About Us’ section, there’s a statistic that says 41 percent of Philadelphians are not connected and other shocking facts. Also, Drexel does partner with this organization, which is good to know.” More information on KEYSPOT is available at www.phillykeyspots.org.
Jobs is currently analyzing and documenting her research and preparing for her research panel presentation at NCUR. She hopes to shed light on the importance of technology when it comes to online health information.