Teams of students led by Prof. Matt Decker, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Counseling, are gaining valuable experience in the field. Last year nine OCU students joined Prof. Decker on a research trip to Ghana, West Africa. Their goal was to research rates of mental health symptoms among West Africans and to assess the level of Psychological Flexibility among Ghanaians. In May 2014, Decker and 12 OCU undergraduates returned to Ghana to continue the research and practice the skills they’ve learned in the classroom.
Prof. Decker uses the research trips to teach students interview skills used in ministry and apply lessons from the classroom. Students report that their lives are being changed, and some are even considering serving in this mission field in the future. Prof. Decker is known for his research and collaboration with Western Michigan University, and students love his academic research approach to ministry. Dr. Hank Kelly, OCU Provost, believes that Decker’s research is a milestone in enhancing the degree options at OCU.
The mental health symptom research is part of a larger catchment study of mental health in West Africa. Students interviewed nearly 100 participants and were part of the largest single data collection event of the entire multi-year, multi-site data collection process, which will continue for several years. The Psychological Flexibility data and the student interview results were shared and combined with data from other universities.