Small but Mighty
An article in the American Psychological Association’s magazine, Monitor on Psychology, underscores a couple of things Professor George Spilich has known for years: That involving psychology undergraduates in meaningful research with faculty makes a world of difference to their engagement and success. And that the Psychology Department at Washington College is really good at it.
Published in the September 2013 issue, the article by Monitor staff writer Anna Miller was inspired in part by the College’s extraordinary participation at professional psychology conferences. She dug deeper to learn about the Psychology Department’s culture of collaboration. “The college’s emphasis on student research and its active learning curriculum make it a standout even among universities more than 10 times its size,” she wrote.
Psychology Department chair Lauren Littlefield ’91 and Spilich, a former chair who has been instrumental in shaping the department’s philosophy over the past two decades, were interviewed for the article. The accompanying photographs feature students at work in labs and classrooms.
“Our department may be the national leader in involving students in meaningful scientific research that leads to them presenting their work at professional conferences,” says a justifiably proud Spilich. “I’m not aware of a single psychology/behavioral neuroscience program at any college or university of any size anywhere in the country that has more undergraduates presenting at professional conferences than we do. And that says a great deal about the talents and diligence of our undergraduates.”
Littlefield, who as a WC student worked in three research labs and presented work at two conferences, says being a research mentor is one of the best parts of her job. “Every full-time faculty member in the Psychology Department is dedicated to doing research with our students,” she adds, “and each year four to six of us attend the Eastern Psychological Association Conference with our students. I am delighted that the department has been recognized in the premier trade magazine for our field, one with such a wide national and international readership.”