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Discuss about the An Evaluation Of The Effects Of Stimulants On Academic Performance.

According to McPeck (2016), critical evaluation is a way of analyzing the procedure and results of a piece of research so as to determine its relevance and applicability in a practical scenario. Stimulants to improve academic performance are often prescribed to learning disabled (LD) students or those with an attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (DuPaul & Stoner, 2014). However, these stimulants are often used without a prescription by misinformed students. Various research studies have been conducted seeking to determine the relationship between prescription stimulants and academic performance of students (Benson et al., 2015). This essay critically evaluates two such research articles in order to determine whether the use of stimulants among university students increases their academic performance.

This essay critically evaluateseach of these two research articles so that it can guide future discussions on the relationship of stimulants and academic performance. In particular, the essay will focus on several aspects of both research articles. These aspects include the authorship, research aims, design and methodology, findings, strengths, and weaknesses. Additionally, the essay will discuss barriers and challenges that may be encountered while implementing the evidence from the appraisal. Finally, the study will evaluate the relevance of these two research articles to the effects of stimulants on college student’s academic performance.

The authors of this article have extensive knowledge and experience in the field of psychotherapy. Frankie and Lieb are experts in the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy while Hildt is a neuroethics expert.Authors of this research article have affiliationswith both thePsychotherapy and Psychiatry departments at theJohannes Gutenberg University’smedical centre, and the Philosophy department at thesame university. In this research article, the authors confirmed that there does not exist any conflicts of interest regarding their views and position on the finding of the research project. All authors of the article participated in the interpretation, drafting, and revision of the manuscript.

The examination of research questions and objectives provide a useful insight into the relevance of a project (Royce, Thyer & Padgett, 2015).This research article aimed to find out more about the effects experienced by users of the stimulants, reasons for using the stimulants, and their impact on academic performance.  The research aimed to answer questions on the reasons behind the use of stimulant among students, the effects of these stimulants on the students, whether they provide any academic advantages, their impact on the lives of students, and the possible side-effects that users may experience.According to the author of the article, most studies on the use of mental enhancements among students predominantly focussed on the misuse of these stimulants. This study was conducted due to the lack of empirical scientific data and qualitative research on the effects of academic performance in the real world.

Research aims

The study was conductedat the University of Mainz campus. The study only included students who were not under a psychoactive drug prescription and did not have any psychiatric disorder such as ADHD. Placards were posted all over the university targeting student who had consumed illicit or prescribed stimulants for cognitive enhancement. These placards requested the students to contact the research team via email anonymously. The researchers gathered socio-economic information on the students and then developed a face-to-face interview structure. The researchers conducted 22 interviews asking questions related to their use of stimulants to enhance their academic performance.Three interviewers and a psychologistwere trained on the interview procedure. The interviews were tape-recorded under the informed consent of the participants.  In fulfilment of ethical and moral obligation, the local Ethics Committee approved the study. A qualitative approach was utilized to analyze the data systematically. For the final analysis of the article, researchers used the unanimous opinion of two independent raters.

Of the 30 students who contacted the researchers, only 18 interviews were critically analyzed by the research team. Out of the total interviews carried out, 77.8% admitted having used illicit stimulants while 38.9% had used prescription stimulants. Further finding on gender, age and educational level were recorded. The findings showed that the use of stimulants varied depending specific periods of the semester with the frequency highest during exam periods. Based on the answers given by students, six categories relating to the research objectives and questions. These categories were on the pressure to perform, side effects, objective academic results, thetiming of consumption, experience to enhancement, and context beyond academic performance. The students used the stimulants for both academic and recreational purposes. The interviewers concluded that the positive effect of stimulants on academic performance was not clear.

The study provided valuable insight into the relation between stimulants and cognitive enhancements. Another strength is that the participants were exposed to a relaxing atmosphere hence reinforcing the credibility of the response. Although the findings are valuable for future research, there are a few weaknesses that must be considered. The main limitation of that study was the limited number of participants. The studywas also biased in its participant selection criteria. The research design was neither comprehensive nor exhaustive to give an accurate assessment.

Munro, B. A., Weyandt, L. L., Marraccini, M. E., & Oster, D. R. (2017). The relationship between nonmedical use of prescription stimulants, executive functioning and academic outcomes. Addictive Behaviors, 65, 250-257. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.08.023

Research design

The first author of the article conducted a part of this research in fulfillment of a University of Rhode Island’s doctoral dissertation requirement. The articles prepared and approved by all authors. Furthermore, the authors confirmed that there does not exist any conflicts of interest regarding their views and position on the finding of the research project.

 The primary aim of the research activity was theinvestigation of the relationship between executive function and the misuse of stimulants among students. Specifically, the article attempted to determine the relationship that the non-medical use of prescription stimulants (NMUPS) have with the executive functioning (EF) of students in universities. The general hypothesis of the study was that NMUPS strengthened the relationship between academic performance and EF.The researchers developed two hypotheses on the research question. Specifically, the study hypothesized that the relationship between academic performance and EF would be moderated by NMUPS. The study also considered the hypothesis that students reporting average EF skills were less likely to report NMUPS compared to students with EF deficits.

The research design comprised of a survey conducted within six public universities in the US after the approval of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). A sample size of 308 participants was used to achieve the objectives of the study.To ensure demographic diversity and representation of participants, the universities were selected from different regions of the country.The research used the Barkley Deficits in Executive Functioning Scale (BDEFS), Stimulant Survey Questionnaire (SSQ), anddemographic informationto measure and collect data for the research.A descriptive statistical method was used to analyze the dependent, and independent variables from the two hypotheses developed.

The findings of the study partially supported the first hypothesis that the relationship between academic performance and EF would be moderated by NMUPS.Although students with EF deficits reported lower scores in their GPAs, the EF skills did not appear to have been moderated by NMUPS. The researchers, therefore, recommended further exploration into the topic.The findings supported the second hypothesis that students reporting average EF skills were less likely to report NMUPS compared to students with EF deficits.

Being one of the first studies to research on NMUPS and their relationship with EF among university students, the article raises new questions and provide valuable information that may be used for future studies. The study, however, had a few weaknesses and limitations. There was a possibility of bias due to the self-reporting approach used by the researchers to collect information. There are generalizability concerns due to the use of a convenience sample and voluntary participation. Further studies should, therefore, be conducted to address these limitations and obtain an accurate depiction of the topic.

Findings

The findings and evidence derived from research projects often have a wide range of benefits to improve practices in the relevant field (Stavor, Zedreck-Gonzalez, & Hoffmann, 2017). However, barriers may arise during the implementation of these findings in a practical setting. These barriers may be at an organizational or personal level (Sadeghi?Bazargani, Tabrizi, & Azami?Aghdash, 2014). In particular, implementation of the findings from the two articles analyzed in this essay is particularly difficult due to the personal and sensitive nature of the topic.

Due to the generalization limitations of the two articles and a limited number of previous studies, the findings may not apply to all affected parties. The findings are not representative of the entire population. Students are also prone to be secretive and reluctant to provide information on NMUPSand academic performance (Bell et al., 2013). Application of the evidence from this critical anaysis may also be hindered by legal constraints due to the illegal nature of some of the stimulants used. Furthermore, it is statistically difficult to obtain a causal effect on prescription stimulants and academic performance among students (Ponnet et al., 2015). Another barrier to theapplication of the evidence in practice is exhaustive consumption of time and financial resources.

The PICO question sought to help Wasim determine whether stimulants increase academic performance in university students.The first research by Hildt, Lieb & Franke (2014) provided undeniable insight and relevance to the PICO question since article analysed the reasons behind the use of stimulant among students, the effects of these stimulants on the students, whether they provide any academic advantages, their impact on the lives of students, and the possible side-effects that users may experience. Findings from this study help answer the question by providing an analysis of the factors surrounding stimulant use among college students. However, the research only provided a qualitative approach, and it did not specifically answer the question on whether stimulants affect academic performance.

The second article by Munro et al. (2017) seemed to provide findings and evidence that is more relevant to the PICO question than the first study.According to Verdi et al. (2016), there is a relationship between academic self-efficacy and NMUPS. The study concluded that there is a relationship between executive function and prescription stimulants misuse among university students. In particular, the study provided evidence that students reporting average EF skills were less likely to report NMUPS compared to students with EF deficits. In support of the PICO question, the study also concluded that the relationship between academic performance and EF would be moderated by NMUPS.

Strengths and weaknesses

Conclusion

In conclusion, a critical evaluation of the two articles provides useful information on the relationship between stimulants and academic performance among university students. However, the findings and evidence provided by the articles do not conclusively answer the question on whether stimulants affect the academic performance of university students.The articles have various limitations that hinder their applicability in practice.Further studies should, therefore, be conducted to provide more useful and relevant evidence on the topic. In addition, according toJensen et al. (2016), available studies on prescription stimulants lack a consensus on their impact and use. It is important to enlighten students on the appropriate use of stimulants and the possible negative effects of using them for non-medical purposes.

References

Bell, S., Partridge, B., Lucke, J., & Hall, W. (2013). Australian university students’ attitudes towards the acceptability and regulation of pharmaceuticals to improve academic performance. Neuroethics, 6(1), 197-205.

Benson, K., Flory, K., Humphreys, K. L., & Lee, S. S. (2015). Misuse of stimulant medication among college students: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. Clinical child and family psychology review, 18(1), 50-76.

DuPaul, G. J., & Stoner, G. (2014). ADHD in the schools: Assessment and intervention strategies. Guilford Publications.

Hildt, E., Lieb, K., & Franke, A. G. (2014). Life context of pharmacological academic performance enhancement among university students - a qualitative approach. BMC Medical Ethics, 15(1), 23-23. doi:10.1186/1472-6939-15-23

Jensen, C., Forlini, C., Partridge, B., & Hall, W. (2016). Australian university students’ coping strategies and use of pharmaceutical stimulants as cognitive enhancers. Frontiers in psychology, 7.

McCabe, S. E., West, B. T., Teter, C. J., & Boyd, C. J. (2014). Trends in medical use, diversion, and nonmedical use of prescription medications among college students from 2003 to 2013: Connecting the dots. Addictive behaviors, 39(7), 1176-1182.

McPeck, J. E. (2016). Critical thinking and education. Routledge.

Munro, B. A., Weyandt, L. L., Marraccini, M. E., & Oster, D. R. (2017). The relationship between nonmedical use of prescription stimulants, executive functioning and academic outcomes. Addictive Behaviors, 65, 250-257. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.08.023

Sadeghi?Bazargani, H., Tabrizi, J. S., & Azami?Aghdash, S. (2014). Barriers to evidence?based medicine: a systematic review. Journal of evaluation in clinical practice, 20(6), 793-802.

Stavor, D. C., Zedreck-Gonzalez, J., & Hoffmann, R. L. (2017). Improving the use of evidence-based practice and research utilization through the identification of barriers to implementation in a critical access hospital. Journal of Nursing Administration, 47(1), 56-61.

Ponnet, K., Wouters, E., Walrave, M., Heirman, W., & Van Hal, G. (2015). Predicting students’ intention to use stimulants for academic performance enhancement. Substance use & misuse, 50(3), 275-282.

Verdi, G., Weyandt, L. L., & Zavras, B. M. (2016). Non-medical prescription stimulant use in graduate students: relationship with academic self-efficacy and psychological variables. Journal of attention disorders, 20(9), 741-753.

Vrecko, S. (2015). Everyday drug diversions: A qualitative study of the illicit exchange and non-medical use of prescription stimulants on a university campus. Social Science & Medicine, 131, 297-304.

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