Gordie Center

for Substance Abuse Prevention

Curriculum Infusion: Mathematics

I. Introduction Course Modules for Mathematics

The following information is posted with the permission of the Network for Dissemination of Curriculum Infusion (NDCI).

Mathematics is an area where questions are frequently raised about the possibility of integration of prevention content. The write up submitted by Dinesh Sarvate demonstrates how prevention content can be effectively used in a mathematics course in elementary statistics. The module is designed to be an integral part of the students' study of descriptive statistics. It actively involves the students in the design of a questionnaire, collection of data and analysis of data. One of the products of the module is a poster that is presented at a School of Science and Mathematics poster session. If having students collect their own data is not desirable/possible in some situations, existing data could be used to complete a module such as Sarvate has developed or could be used in designing a different module. For example, there is a great deal of data available that indicates that students typically have inaccurate perceptions (over estimates) about the use/abuse of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs by their college peers. This data on student perceptions of use/abuse and actual use/abuse could be used for purposes of statistical analysis in courses that typically make use of some other data. The significance of using this data is based on research that suggests that students with an accurate perception of use/abuse are less likely to become users/abusers.




Developed by.- Dinesh G. Sarvate
Associate Professor Mathematics Department College of Charleston

Prevention Rationale | Learning Objectives | Instructional Activities | BACK TO TOP



I designed the module so that the students will be able to understand themselves and their environment better. They are directly asked to come up with a recommendation for the administration. I hope they will think about the problem and see their responsibilities and possible contributions towards substance abuse prevention.

Students who are not binge drinking or using illicit drugs will become aware of the problem and know that their suggestions will be read by the faculty of the school of Mathematics and Sciences as well as by the dean. This empowers them because otherwise they may not have a forum to put forward their suggestions regarding drug abuse prevention.

They will also be aware of the desire of the educational institution to take an active role in prevention.




I think that in a course like statistics the emphasis should be on data accumulation techniques, data exploration and inference rather than just rote problem solving. Statistical thinking should be emphasized more than strategies of problem solving which characterizes a good mathematics course, The present module achieves this goal and provides current data to be used throughout the course.

1. To prepare a questionnaire to gather information on substance use/abuse.

2. To understand the difference between experimental and observational study as well as between statistics and parameters.

3. To understand the type and the nature of the data.

4. To understand the problems with convenient sampling and other sampling methods by comparing the sample data with the population (college) data.

5. To understand the issue of confidentiality.

6.To examine data by means of various graphs.

7.To engage in team work. This module has an extra advantage: it provides the class and me with various sets of current data which can be used throughout the course.




Following hand out is given to the class.


i1. To prepare a questionnaire in order to gather data on student use/abuse.

2. To understand the difference between experiment and observational study as well as between statistics and parameters.

3. To understand the type-and the nature of the data.

4. To understand the problems with convenient sampling and other sampling methods by comparing the sample data with the population (college) data.

5. To understand the issue of confidentiality.

6. To examine data by means of various graphs and statistics.

7. To engage in team work.

In short, the activity should provide you a facility to review the descriptive statistics part of the course. This module has an extra advantage: it provides the class with various sets of current data which we may use throughout the course.




i Your assignment is to create a questionnaire so that you can obtain a profile of students in your class, a male student profile and a female student profile. Your assignment includes obtaining information on attitudes and behavior in relation to alcohol and other drugs.You are also to study drug and alcohol abuse in higher education, in particular at the College of Charleston. You are going to use the data from the class as a (convenient) sample. You will. study the effects as well as propose methods for stopping drug and alcohol abuse on campus. At the least, you want to make some positive recommendation to the administration and students which will decrease substance abuse at the college. Remember to keep the information you generate in a portfolio to be submitted at the end of the semester.

We will go through Steps I through 5 in the class period today. On the next class period Step 6 will be conducted. Copies of the survey will be given back to the student groups in the following class period along with college wide data when steps 7,8, and 9 will be executed. Steps 10 and I I will be done in the following weeks.


Step 0: Please for two minutes relax and write down your reactions/thoughts about this activity. Include in your portfolio any feelings you may have about your capabilities as well as that of your classmates.


Step 1: Form a group of three to four people around you. A group member should write down the names of the group members on a card and return the card to me.


Step 2: Develop a questionnaire. Decide whether you want the survey to be confidential. Make sure you have enough questions to cover both aims, viz., to obtain profiles as well as the drug and alcohol abuse information. Decide whether you are doing an experimental or an observational study.


Step 3: Decide an ordering for your questions. Does it matter in which order you will ask these questions? Process these questions with your group, share your thoughts. Remember that you will need to write all these things in your portfolio.


Step 4: We will combine questions from different groups to form a single questionnaire and distribute it to the class.


Step 5: Decide what kind of data you'll receive (discrete/continuous and levels: nominal etc.)


Step 6: Survey the class (IN THE CLASS i) to collect the data.


Step 7: Analyze the data and draw conclusions: To analyze the data, use the tools you learn in the class. Draw relevant graphs and obtain statistics.


Step 8: Compare your data with the college-wide data. Calculate any other relevant statistics from the sample. Compare them with the parameters from the college wide data. Draw conclusions.


Step 9: Identify possible sources of effort.


Step 10: Among the groups, decide which groups have the best reports and suggestions, Ask these groups to prepare a poster, and help them with the preparation.


Step 11: Select the best poster, improve and present it at the poster session of the School of Science and Mathematics at the College as an undergraduate research project for the whole class.


Step 12: Write about the changes in the attitude and skills, if any, you observe in yourself or your class.


The work on this project is done for approximately 3 weeks while the class is studying descriptive statistics.

Direct questions are asked in some of the steps which will help students to understand the required material and achieve the objectives for the course. For example, see Steps IO and I I where the whole class seems to come together. The last poster is not for a group but for the whole class. This will help with Objective 7. The following chart explains the correspondence between the steps and objectives.

Step 1 objective 1
Steps 2, 8 objective 2
Step 5 objective 3
Steps 6, 9 objective 4
Step 2, 9 objective 5
Step 7 objective 6
Steps 10, I I objective 7

Steps 10 and 11 empower students by providing a forum to put forward their own ideas and encourages substance abuse prevention as the subject gets a college wide exposure.