Penn State CORE (COllege Relationships and Experiences)

Duration: 2019 - Present
Principal Investigator: Stephanie Lanza
Co-Investigator: Courtney Whetzel
Co-Investigator: Erina MacGeorge
Partners: Penn State Office of Student Affairs, Social Science Research Institute, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

group of diverse college students taking a selfie


The Penn State CORE (COllege Relationships and Experiences) project is a broad study of the experiences of Penn State undergraduate students across the Commonwealth. The study gives voice to all students as they share about their life as Penn State undergraduate students, informs ways that Penn State can enhance their experiences, and serves as a gateway for students to engage more closely with Penn State research studies.  

Phase 1

In November 2019, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the nation, the research team administered an online survey with more than 4,300 undergraduate students from nine Penn State campuses. The survey, designed to take less than 10 minutes to complete, contained questions about emotional, environmental and social factors that may relate to college students’ health and behavior. The study included a focus on substance use behaviors, mental health, feelings of belonging, perceived experiences of discrimination, and food insecurity. 

Descriptive statistics: Here is a summary of results from the phase 1 survey. You can also view this video in which Drs. Lanza and Whetzel presented an overview and preliminary findings to College of Health and Human Development alumni.  

Phase 2

We followed up with students in May 2020 to assess health and behavior, as well as COVID-19 risk and prevention behaviors. The phase 2 survey replicated the questions in the phase 1 survey, and also included questions specific to living through the coronavirus pandemic. These new measures assessed: barriers faced in remote learning, coronavirus exposure risk, COVID-19 testing history, perceived risk of infection, adherence to public health prevention behaviors (hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing), coping strategies used, and openness to receive a coronavirus vaccine should one become available. Many of these pandemic-specific questions were identical to those asked in the Data 4 Action survey of Centre County residents that occurred during May-June 2020 to enable comparisons between students and community members.  

Descriptive statistics: Here is a summary of results from the phase 2 survey.

A complete report showing individual change over time in health and behavior is forthcoming and will be available on this web page.

Project Team