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J, Volume 2, Issue 4 (December 2019) – 7 articles

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53 pages, 476 KiB  
Article
A Set of State–Space Models at a High Disaggregation Level to Forecast Italian Industrial Production
by Riccardo Corradini
J 2019, 2(4), 508-560; https://doi.org/10.3390/j2040033 - 18 Nov 2019
Viewed by 3509
Abstract
Normally, econometric models that forecast the Italian Industrial Production Index do not exploit information already available at time t + 1 for their own main industry groupings. The new strategy proposed here uses state–space models and aggregates the estimates to obtain improved results. [...] Read more.
Normally, econometric models that forecast the Italian Industrial Production Index do not exploit information already available at time t + 1 for their own main industry groupings. The new strategy proposed here uses state–space models and aggregates the estimates to obtain improved results. The performance of disaggregated models is compared at the same time with a popular benchmark model, a univariate model tailored on the whole index, with persistent not formally registered holidays, a vector autoregressive moving average model exploiting all information published on the web for main industry groupings. Tests for superior predictive ability confirm the supremacy of the aggregated forecasts over three steps horizon using absolute forecast error and quadratic forecast error as a loss function. The datasets are available online. Full article
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12 pages, 3371 KiB  
Article
Effects of Dehydration on Cognitive and Physical Performance in Female Golfers: A Randomized Crossover Pilot Study
by Whitney Stevenson, Jennie S. Zabinsky and Valisa E. Hedrick
J 2019, 2(4), 496-507; https://doi.org/10.3390/j2040032 - 13 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3308
Abstract
Athletes’ commitments to nutrition practices can set them apart in their field. Few studies have investigated the impact of hydration practices on golfers’ performance who compete for up to eight hours a day, and none have studied female golfers. In this pilot, randomized [...] Read more.
Athletes’ commitments to nutrition practices can set them apart in their field. Few studies have investigated the impact of hydration practices on golfers’ performance who compete for up to eight hours a day, and none have studied female golfers. In this pilot, randomized crossover study, female elite golfers (n = 6) completed 4 simulated golf holes in both euhydrated and dehydrated states. Euhydration was attained by following NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) hydration guidelines; dehydration was attained by a 12-h overnight fluid fast. Before any fluid intervention, five out of six participants were dehydrated at baseline using urinary specific gravity (USG) classifications for euhydration (USG < 1.010) and dehydration (USG > 1.010). No significant condition by time interactions were found between hydration conditions. Although not significant, participants in a dehydrated state demonstrated lesser mean 7-iron distance (141.9 ± 10.0 vs 144.2 ± 8.0 m), lower putting accuracy (2.4 ± 1.0 vs 2.7 ± 10.0 putts made out of 4 attempts), and greater perceived effort (10.9 ± 2.1 vs 10.5 ± 1.6) as compared to their euhydrated state. The finding of one participant out of six with significant dehydration (USG = 1.021) during attempted euhydrated state may suggest the need for alternative methods to promote adequate hydration in future studies and possibly in golf practice. Full article
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16 pages, 1431 KiB  
Article
Intersession-Online: A Smartphone Application for Systematic Recording and Controlling of Intersession Experiences in Psychotherapy
by Thorsten-Christian Gablonski, Rüdiger Pryss, Thomas Probst, Carsten Vogel and Sylke Andreas
J 2019, 2(4), 480-495; https://doi.org/10.3390/j2040031 - 8 Nov 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4058
Abstract
Mobile health technologies have become more and more important in psychotherapy research and practice. The market is being flooded by several psychotherapeutic online services for different purposes. However, mobile health technologies are particularly suitable for data collection and monitoring, as data can be [...] Read more.
Mobile health technologies have become more and more important in psychotherapy research and practice. The market is being flooded by several psychotherapeutic online services for different purposes. However, mobile health technologies are particularly suitable for data collection and monitoring, as data can be recorded economically in real time. Currently, there is no appropriate method to assess intersession experiences systematically in psychotherapeutic practice. The aim of our project was the development of a smartphone application framework for systematic recording and controlling of intersession experiences. Intersession-Online, an iOS- and Android-App, offers the possibility to collect data on intersession experiences easily, to provide the results to therapists in an evaluated form and, if necessary, to induce or interrupt intersession experiences with the primary aim to improve outcome of psychotherapy. In general, the smartphone application could be a helpful, evidence-based tool for research and practice. Overall speaking, further research to investigate the efficacy of Intersession-Online is necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intersession Management and Remote Therapeutic Intervention Support)
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13 pages, 734 KiB  
Article
Ant Forest through the Haze: A Case Study of Gamified Participatory Pro-Environmental Communication in China
by Yang Chen and Danqing Cai
J 2019, 2(4), 467-479; https://doi.org/10.3390/j2040030 - 23 Oct 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 7266
Abstract
Increasing energy consumption and growing pollutant emissions speak volumes about the environmental challenges in various countries and regions. As one of the fastest-developing countries, China has been facing a serious environmental crisis, with many parts of the country constantly shrouded in a heavy [...] Read more.
Increasing energy consumption and growing pollutant emissions speak volumes about the environmental challenges in various countries and regions. As one of the fastest-developing countries, China has been facing a serious environmental crisis, with many parts of the country constantly shrouded in a heavy haze. In order to improve the public’s pro-environmental awareness and encourage people to take action to contribute to energy conservation and emissions reduction, Ant Forest, a gamified participatory communication program, was launched on the top mobile payment service Alipay. This innovative approach links people’s low-carbon lifestyles with afforestation and haze control in the real world through virtual gaming experiences. This case study explains the working mechanism of Ant Forest in pro-environmental communication and investigates its effectiveness in motivating the public to engage in pro-environmental activities. Focus groups and interviews were adopted in this study to collect qualitative data. The results indicate that Ant Forest plays an encouraging role in Chinese users’ pro-environmental awareness and behaviors, but improvements in user experiences are still needed in some aspects. By introducing the haze problem in China and the practice of gamified participatory pro-environmental communication, this paper is expected to provide inspiration and reference for future efforts to promote public participation in environmental protection. Full article
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18 pages, 1094 KiB  
Article
Public Water Supply and Sanitation Authorities for Strategic Sustainable Domestic Water Management. A Case of Iringa Region In Tanzania
by Mesia Lufingo
J 2019, 2(4), 449-466; https://doi.org/10.3390/j2040029 - 18 Oct 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4722
Abstract
Water supply is a mandatory service for the majority from respective legal public water utilities, and its sustainability reflects implementations of best management strategies at a local level. The objectives of this study were (i) to assess current approaches used in water quality [...] Read more.
Water supply is a mandatory service for the majority from respective legal public water utilities, and its sustainability reflects implementations of best management strategies at a local level. The objectives of this study were (i) to assess current approaches used in water quality and quantity management and (ii) propose a sustainable domestic water management strategy. This was achieved through secondary water data trends, on-site water quality assessments, visits of water supply and sanitation authorities, and assessment of their performances. It was observed that water supplied in rural-based authorities was quite different from that supplied in an urban setting as far as quality and quantity are concerned; urban-based supplies are more affordable to users than rural ones. A new strategy on water management is presented for sustainable water supply; it is based on controlling groundwater abstractions and preference of surface water in public water supplies. Rural water supply management must learn several practices realized in urban supplies for the betterment of services for the majority of the users. Full article
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19 pages, 769 KiB  
Review
Cancer Risk in Children and Young Adults (Offspring) Born after Medically Assisted Reproduction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
by Manuela Chiavarini, Andrea Ostorero, Giulia Naldini and Roberto Fabiani
J 2019, 2(4), 430-448; https://doi.org/10.3390/j2040028 - 9 Oct 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3591
Abstract
Many studies have investigated the relationship between medically assisted reproduction (MAR) and health outcomes, particularly cancer, in the offspring. This meta-analysis investigated the association between MAR and childhood cancer. Data sources were PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science up until June 2018. From [...] Read more.
Many studies have investigated the relationship between medically assisted reproduction (MAR) and health outcomes, particularly cancer, in the offspring. This meta-analysis investigated the association between MAR and childhood cancer. Data sources were PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science up until June 2018. From the selected studies, we extracted the cancer risk estimates of the exposure of interest (MAR, assisted reproductive technology—ART, and in fitro fertilization—IVF). We conducted the meta-analysis using a random effects model. The outcomes of interest were childhood cancers, classified according to the international classification of childhood cancer (ICCC-3). In our meta-analysis (18 cohort and 15 case-control studies) the overall cancer risk was significantly increased in children conceived by MAR, ART, or IVF. MAR and ART significantly increased the risk for hematological tumors, hepatic tumors, and sarcomas (odds ratio (OR) 1.54; 95% CI 1.18–2.02 and OR 1.92; 95% CI 1.34–2.74, respectively). MAR increased acute myeloid leukemia risk (OR 1.41; 95% CI 1.02–1.95) and ART increased neural cancer risk (OR 1.21; 95% CI 1.01–1.46). Our results suggest an increased risk of cancer in children conceived by MAR. Further studies are needed to investigate the impact of fertility treatments, parental subfertility status, and their association on health outcomes in the offspring. Full article
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20 pages, 1264 KiB  
Article
SWOT Analysis of Blended Learning in Public Universities of Uganda: A Case Study of Muni University
by Guma Ali, Bosco Apparatus Buruga and Taban Habibu
J 2019, 2(4), 410-429; https://doi.org/10.3390/j2040027 - 3 Oct 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 33950
Abstract
With the fusion of information communication technology (ICT) in higher institutions of learning, new teaching and learning practices have developed—often called blended learning—allowing students and teachers to interact with information and each other more independently. This study, therefore, analyses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities [...] Read more.
With the fusion of information communication technology (ICT) in higher institutions of learning, new teaching and learning practices have developed—often called blended learning—allowing students and teachers to interact with information and each other more independently. This study, therefore, analyses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of blended learning in the Public Universities of Uganda, in a case study of Muni University. Descriptive survey design was employed in the research. The target sample of the survey was 25 lecturers and 189 students selected using a stratified random sampling technique from the three faculties. A questionnaire was employed in this study and the data collected were analyzed using SPSS Version 25. The findings of the study identified accessibility, positive attitude, and knowledge and skills as the major motivators for blended learning. The strengths of blended learning found included serving many students in a short time, university readiness, connected both in and out of class, basic IT skills and top management commitment. The weaknesses included low bandwidth and unstable internet, lack of a plagiarism tool, insufficient numbers of computers and dependent on internet connectivity. Opportunities cited were competency-based systems that made it easier to manage individual progress in line with university expansion plans, an accessible way of learning regardless of location and available external support. The threats included unreliable power supply, unreliable internet connection, exchanges of username and passwords by students, internet shorthand used in student assignments. Based on these results, the study provides a baseline to help government and public universities that would like to implement or newly incorporate blended learning to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with the blended learning approach. The survey urges that plagiarism plugins for Moodle and BigBlue Button should be added, steady power supply should be provided, internet accessibility should be improved, blended learning training and workshops need to be improved and finally, policies, rules and standards pertaining to blended learning should be enacted. Full article
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