Debbie J. Crews, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor
Exercise Science & Physical Education
Arizona State University
Goals and Future Directions
Current Research Focus

        Over the past four years at Arizona State University I have pursued two primary areas of research in the areas of sport and exercise psychology.  In the area of sport psychology I have studied attention in sport, most often during golf putting because it is possible to assess EEG brain activity during this closed skill sport.  With the help of graduate and undergraduate students we have been able to define the attentional patterns related to successful performance in golf putting.  Our previous research using biofeedback training has allowed us to verify these patterns and to successfully train golfers attentional patterns that lead to improved golf putting performance.
        More recently we have attempted to manipulate arousal using psychological stress and physical activity to observe the changes in attentional patterns, to attempt to differentiate the patterns related to the two manipulations, and to differentiate those that improve performance under stress compared to those that perform worse.  The recent research focus has also included studying “confidence” and ‘habituation effects” among professional golfers.  If one believes that how one performs under pressure is related to habit strength and that focus of attention can influence confidence whether through vicarious experience, self-talk, or level of activation; then these two areas of research warrant important pieces of information to the study of attention in sport.
        The study of attention in sport led me to another area of interest primarily in exercise psychology.  It seemed logical that to understand attention it would be helpful to study a population who have difficulty attending, the attention deficit and attention deficit- hyperactive children and adolescents.  Related special populations that also have difficulty attending are the emotionally disturbed and autistic youth.  This research focus has included the assessment and use of various sport (i.e., golf, horseback riding) and exercise interventions (aerobic and nonaerobic) to enhance psychological and cognitive factors.  Included in the study of various sport and exercise interventions on psychological, cognitive, and behavioral states of children and adolescents has been a focus on minority (i.e., Hispanic and Native American) populations.  These populations are often not reached in our typical research designs and warrant specific attention.  Results from this research indicate interesting reductions in depression and negative behaviors and enhanced self-esteem, grades, and positive affect.

Recent Grant Activity

        During the past four years attracting both internal and external funding has been a priority to establish research facilities and reputable research programs in the areas of attention in sport and facilitating psychological and attentional states in special needs children and adolescents.

Internal Funding

        A multidisciplinary initiative grant from the Office of Research was awarded for the 1995-1997 period.  The grant of $150,000.00 was conducted with the ASU Prevention Research Center in the central Phoenix school district.  Approximately 200 4th grade students were assessed for psychological and physical status and a 6-wk aerobic exercise program was compared with a physical activity program of comparable length.  Results indicated reduced depression, enhanced self-esteem, and enhanced grades particularly among the exercise participants.

External Funding

        During the 1996-1998 period approximately $58,500.00 was acquired from external funding sources:

        1. Titleist, Foot-Joy, and Cobra, Inc. provided $35,000.00 to conduct two research/training camps for the Swedish
             European Tour players March, 1997, and April, 1998.  Results were presented and published at the World Scientific
             Congress of Golf, July, 1998, St. Andrews, Scotland.
        2. The Alberta B. Farrington Foundation provided $5,000.00 in 1996 and $12,000.00 in 1998 to purchase equipment
             for studying attention in children and adolescents.
        3. Stephan Fymat and Lloyd Glaubermann provided $5,700.00 in 1998 to study the effects of a dichotic listening
            protocol on attention and golf putting performance.
        4. The Tempe High School District awarded $800.00 in 1998 for the 1998-99 school year.  This program will examine
            the effects of sport and exercise programs on emotionally disturbed high school students.  Psychological factors,
            grades, and behaviors will be assessed throughout the study.

Grants Proposed

        A grant proposal was submitted to the United States Golf Association (USGA), August, 1998 for $335,000.00 over a 3-year period.  This research proposal will examine the effects of a research-based golf training program on psychological characteristics, grades, and behaviors among Native American children and adolescents.  Decisions will be made in November, 1998.

Goals and Future Direction

        As an assistant research professor at Arizona State University in the Department of Exercise Science and Physical Education my goal is to develop a research/service program that contributes to the credibility of a Research One institution.  This program will focus on the area of attention and will specifically service attention deficit populations, including minority and at-risk children and adolescents.
        Beginning in Spring, 2000 I plan to offer a Sport and Exercise Psychology Laboratory class at the graduate level.  This class would include assessment techniques applicable to all areas of sport and exercise psychology:  psychophysiology, exercise physiology, motor learning and control, psychological testing, questionnaire development, managing large data sets using SPSS and SAS, and meta-analytic techniques.  This class would be taught every other Spring semester (the even years).
 The Golf, Research, Education, and Training (GREAT) facility will be developed with two goals in mind.  The first goal is to use golf as a medium to research and train in the areas of exercise science, psychology, education, bioengineering, health and well-being, and cultural diversity.  The second will be to produce a research-based golf training program that will provide a complete assessment and training package to any participant with the goal of improving their skills and performance in golf.
         In November, 2000 ASU will host the “Future of Golfers:  Research in the New Millennium” conference endorsed by the World Scientific Congress of Golf.  I have proposed to bring academic scholars together with renowned practitioners from the world of golf to determine future directions for researching the golfer.  The outcome of these presentations and discussions will be published in an edited book to be used as a resource for future directions in golf.
        It is my goal that research publications, external grant funding, and teaching selected courses will earn a promotion to the ranks of associate and possibly full research professor as defined by the department.