Shannon Duncan (BS '19)

A portrait of Shannon Duncan

As an undergraduate nursing student Shannon Duncan’s passion for the healthcare field was clear. However, she knew if she wanted to help more people and further her career, she needed to become involved in research on campus.

Duncan is now the first undergraduate student to walk into TWU Dallas’ Center for Research Design and Analysis (CRDA) on her own in pursuit of opportunities. This first step led Duncan on a journey that would end with her work published in the Journal of Forensic Nursing.

“I wanted to take my research into my own hands,” says Duncan, “and figure out exactly what I wanted to do.”

In order to conduct research, Duncan needed resources and a team. Reaching out to the CRDA provided her with help brainstorming and planning her research process. “As a student who is new to research, it was necessary for me to utilize all the resources possible to achieve my goals,” she said.

I wanted to take my research into my own hands and figure out exactly what I wanted to do.

When deciding on a topic, Duncan looked to her work volunteering in a rape crisis center and a campus sexual assault conference she attended at TWU. With women’s health and issues as her inspiration, Duncan was driven to help survivors of sexual assault find the resources they need on college campuses. To do this, Duncan analyzed the readability of 10 different universities sexual assault resource websites.

“The average American high school graduate reads at the eighth-grade reading level,” says Duncan, “while sexual assault reporting pages were at reading levels significantly higher than average.” Not only were reading levels too high, she said, the websites failed to accurately define sexual assault, ignoring terms such as “molestation” or “coercion.”

Duncan then compared the sexual assault reporting pages to each university’s financial aid and application — or “How to Apply” — web pages. She found reading levels on application pages were significantly lower than sexual assault and mental health resource pages.

The average American high school graduate reads at the eighth-grade reading level, while sexual assault reporting pages were at reading levels significantly higher than average.

Duncan’s conclusion: “Higher education institutions’ sexual assault reporting pages lack the proper accommodation for users of different reading levels.”

In the future, Duncan will further her education and conduct research in the healthcare field. She continues to volunteer to support sexual assault survivors during their time of need.

Higher education institutions’ sexual assault reporting pages lack the proper accommodation for users of different reading levels.

Page last updated 9:25 AM, February 25, 2019