One of the most detail-oriented tasks in administrating the IMAGE program involves data management. Depending on the number of student cohorts that participate, quite a bit of data can be generated, even if the follow-up assessments are not administered. Starting out organized and then staying organized will reduce confusion and stress levels.
Assigning a unique number to each cohort will assist in scheduling sessions, with data entry, and in maintaining confidentiality. Often, a range of numbers will be assigned based upon the nature of the cohort. For instance, Greek Life organizations may be assigned numbers in the one-hundreds (101, 102, and so on), while student athlete cohorts are assigned those in the two-hundreds (201, 202, and so on).
First, create a tracking sheet to monitor each cohort’s progression through the points in the IMAGE program. This should include the date of the initial session, and when the follow-up surveys will be due. Second, mark the due dates on a calendar or dry-erase board to visually track each cohort as they move through the program. Begin contacting cohorts at least one week prior to the follow-up due date, as it often takes persistence to obtain the completed surveys.
Most coding of the variables on the surveys is straightforward, with the exception of the self-protective behaviors that are identified in statements of intent on the post-test. The student responses tend to vary a great deal, so it is necessary to categorize the list of self-protective behaviors ahead of time.
Suggested categories would be:
- Abstinence (includes making academics a priority over alcohol, leaving a party where alcohol is the focus, and making friends who do not drink excessively)
- Having a Designated Driver
- Setting Limits Ahead of Time
- Staying Hydrated
- Not Drinking Alone
- Drinking Less (or slowing down)
- Keeping Track of Number of Drinks
- Eating Beforehand
- Protecting Own Drink
- “Little Voice” (know when to stop drinking)
- General Self-Protective Behaviors
Consult with other staff members when there is a behavior listed that does not seem to fit exactly within the specified categories.
In the interest of keeping errors to a minimum, it is helpful to maintain unique database files for each cohort. At the end of the program, these files can be merged together into one aggregate file for analysis.