University of Missouri - Saint Louis

The Graduate School


An oral examination in defense of the dissertation for the degree

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Miriam Butler
MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner, May, 1997, University of Missouri-St. Louis
BSN, December, 1989, University of Missouri-St. Louis

An Assessment of Gain in Knowledge in Third Graders Participating in a Science Based Drug Prevention Education Curriculum



Drug use and abuse presents a significant problem to individuals, families, and law enforcement in communities across the United States. Methamphetamine is a particular concern in one rural eastern Missouri county. Much work being done in this county by multiple agencies to decrease methamphetamine production and use. Little attention, however, has been focused on prevention in the elementary schools. Substance use and experimentation may begin as early as 12 years old or even earlier. By initiating a proven drug prevention education curriculum before children begin to experiment with tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, drug use may be delayed or prevented.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant funds have supported a collaborative initiative between the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Nursing, Partners Responsible 4 Increasing Drug Education (PRIDE), the county Sheriff’s Department, and the County Health Department. This community-based participatory action research process has focused on the implementation of the Brain Power! Junior Scientist Program developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The purpose of this specific project was to create a pilot tool to evaluate the effectiveness of the Brain Power! program by determining gain in drug-related scientific knowledge after the presentation of six learning modules for third graders in a rural eastern Missouri county elementary school.
The tool was developed from the curriculum purpose, goals and objectives before being reviewed by experts in the field. The final tool was then piloted with 82 third graders in the rural eastern Missouri school. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. Mean score increased from 4.46 (pre-test) to 7.65 (post-test).
Students exposed to the curriculum demonstrated a statistically significant gain in knowledge. Expert review contributed to the reliability and validity of the tool. Additional study is needed to determine if gain in knowledge will translate into a decrease or delay in drug use in students exposed to the Brain Power! curriculum. Including demographic data and a control group will also benefit future research.


Date: July 16, 2013

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Place: Nursing Administration Bldg. CR2


Defense of Dissertation Committee


Nancy Magnuson, DSN (Chair)

Kimberly Allen, Ph.D.


Wilma Calvert, Ph.D.

Sue Farberman, DNP

James Topolski, Ph.D.