I recently attended an effective and educational Teaching Alcohol Abuse Prevention (TAAP) session. TAAP, a 90-minute presentation led by one student and one administrator, focused on discussion and group participation to stress practical alcohol education. The Pomona College-oriented class had no hidden goal of preaching alcohol abstinence and objectively prepared both drinkers and bystanders with practical knowledge about alcohol.
This alcohol information was so practical that I believe it should be used in Pomona’s Orientation for first-year students. Incorporating TAAP instead of the traditional online alcohol course would cut down on the amount of alcohol-related sicknesses and transports to the hospital.
Pomona’s traditional online alcohol education is lackluster. While the course was effective, it was limited by not including any perspective from current students. The online course felt somehow removed from Pomona culture. The material covered was generic and trite.
TAAP provides an interactive system, which allows students to talk with other students involved in the course about various issues involving alcohol. This interaction with other Pomona students is crucial for the learning process.
Group discussion with other Pomona students helps localize the issue. It provides an accurate student perspective of alcohol consumption at Pomona and helps contextualize the issue. It also gives Pomona students the chance to vocalize their thoughts.
One of the two instructors of the TAAP class is always a Pomona student who has spent at least a year at the college. This student incorporates some knowledge about the local Pomona drinking culture into the course. This sense of realism and localization helps ensure a more engaging and contextually appropriate course for all participants.
Gathering exact statistics on the effectiveness of Pomona’s alcohol education program would be very difficult. However, the program clearly could be improved. With many weekends bringing transports of Pomona students to hospitals, perhaps a change in Pomona’s system of alcohol education is in order.
Instead of having incoming first-years complete an online course, Pomona should institute TAAP as part of the first-year Orientation. Through TAAP, Pomona students would hear accurate perspectives on alcohol use from other Pomona students. Having a non-digital alcohol curriculum would also allow Pomona students to ask questions about issues they don’t completely understand. Further elaboration would clear up discrepancies and generate better comprehension of the material covered.
Topics learned from effective courses like TAAP simply resonate better than their online counterparts. If Pomona believes alcohol education is a priority, they should move away from ineffective online education courses and make TAAP a mandatory part of Orientation.