THE EFFECT OF AN INTERVENTION ON THE SOCIAL NETWORK AMONG STUDENTS AT THE BASIC PSYCHOLOGY COURSE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OSLO
Kvalem, I.L., University of Oslo, Norway
The health services at the university have observed an increase in students with different problems from the introductory course in psychology (PSY110). Social networks are an important part of social support, which in turn is a central factor in coping. By creating arenas for students to meet each other early in the new term and using smaller groups it was hoped to instigate better social networks among the students. The 100 students who wanted to participate in the study were recruited among the 250 students attending the orientation meeting at term start. Before they were randomly assigned to the experiment group (38 women and 13 men) or the control group (44 women and 5 men), they filled out the pretest questionnaire. The experiment group was offered activities such as: a peer support group, outing to the student's cottage, writing exercise seminar with smaller groups. The post-test questionnaire was administered after the exam in December 2000. The experiment group had made more close friends and acquaintances among the other students at PSY110 during the fall term than the control group had done. There was no difference between the two groups concerning emotional or social loneliness. Number of close friends was connected to the students' activity level, but number of acquaintances was not. Conclusion: It is possible to change the social network by implementing activities that do not require the allocation of big economic and/or personnel resources.