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M.S. in Animals and Public Policy Externship Experience (MAPP)

July-August 2017

From the Basement of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine: A Summer with the Organization for Human-Animal Interaction Research
Savannah Verdon
Working as a graduate research assistant for the Organization for Human-Animal Interaction Research required extensive literature review, manuscript writing, and both quantitative and qualitative data analysis and interpretation. My primary focus was the Canine Assistants project examining the psychosocial effects of service dogs on individuals with physical disabilities as well as their families. Specifically, I developed a systematic coding manual for qualitative data and refined it until achieving strong interrater reliability, then coded the entire dataset. This approach allows quantitative comparisons between treatment groups. I also contributed to the introduction and methodology of the Canine Assistants manuscript, and will be included as an author upon submission. The MAPP research methods and statistics curriculum was an invaluable resource throughout this externship. Overall and in addition to my independent paper, this externship gave me unique insight into the lived experiences of individuals with physical disabilities and their service dogs. I believe this sensitivity and understanding will be critical to my work in the future with non-profits focused on human-animal interaction.

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