Honors in the Major: Exploring intimate partner relationships on Facebook
An Honors in the Major at Florida State University (FSU) requires an undergraduate student to hone the skills that they have developed during their degree program to complete a thesis or creative project in their area of focus under the guidance of a faculty committee. The completion of the project or thesis is a mark of distinction for a student that has gone on to explore their major discipline with greater depth than their peers. Morgan Lodes took on this challenge to explore an interest of hers that began with work as a research assistant with the FSU College of Social Work’s Institute for Family Violence Studies and its Director Karen Oehme.
“I had always been interested in learning more about the dynamics present in intimate partner relationships because they are so important in many people’s lives,” elaborated Morgan about her initial interest in her research focus. “I distinctly remember thinking to myself when Karen hired me at the Institute, ‘my life is going to change.’” Morgan worked on projects at the Institute related to co-parenting and healthy relationships. Throughout these research experiences, she wanted to learn more about how romantic relationships develop, form, and dissolve among the college-age populations.
At first, Morgan thought to explore the issue of jealousy in college-aged romantic relationships but kept coming upon the topic of former intimate partner (FIP) surveillance. “FIP surveillance is incredibly common despite its harmful effects,” Morgan explained. She set to work on this topic with the encouragement of her faculty committee: Karen Oehme (Thesis Director) and Dr. Bruce Thyer from the College of Social Work along with Dr. Jennifer Proffitt from the College of Communication and Information.
Morgan completed her Honors in the Major thesis spring of 2017 entitled, “Former Intimate Partner Facebook Surveillance: Attitudes and Practices of Colleges Students.” She surveyed students at the FSU College of Social Work, with a sample of 108 students. Her research examined the attitudes students had about their FIP surveillance behaviors compared to their attitudes about others’ FIP surveillance behaviors. The results of her study suggested that there was a significant difference between how students perceive their behaviors compared to their attitudes toward others’ behaviors.
She credits the guidance and support of her committee for helping her get through the learning curve of research methods like data collection and analysis. “Know that it’s okay not to have all the answers,” Morgan advised to any student who is considering an Honors in the Major thesis or project. “That’s why you have a faculty committee. Don’t give up on your project even if you feel uncomfortable or uncertain. With their help, you can do it!”
One of only thirteen honors in the major, and the only one in social work, Morgan Lodes was honored at the Outstanding Senior Scholars Banquet on April 7, 2017, at the Honors, Scholars, and Fellows House. She is also one of only two social work students honored as a Garnet and Gold Scholar, along with Kelsey Whalen (a social work and English major). Morgan has distinguished herself among her peers as a dedicated scholar and social worker.
Last year she was awarded the Institute for Family Violence Studies’ IFVS Director’s Award for her exemplary contributions to the Institute’s team. Director Karen Oehme, JD is also keeping Morgan on the IFVS team as a project coordinator after she graduates. “Karen has been my mentor throughout my social work experience. Working alongside her these last few years has been vital to my growth as a student, professional, and individual,” she said warmly. “Karen is a change maker, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of her team.” Morgan will also begin preparing for and will be applying to law school in 2018.