24 Aug 2017

Sian Beilock Wants to Help People Perform at Their Best

Sian Beilock Wants to Help People Perform at Their Best
Sian Beilock
APA Fellow Sian Beilock is the new president of Barnard College in New York City. (Photo: Jason Smith)

Sian Beilock, PhD, a psychologist, fellow of the American Psychological Association and the brand new president of Barnard College in New York City, sees her move into the top job at a "stellar" liberal arts college for women as a natural progression in a career that has focused on "helping people perform at their best."

Beilock was previously at the University of Chicago for twelve years as a psychology professor and the principal investigator with the Human Performance Lab there. By the time she left, she was an officer of the university as well. As a researcher, Beilock says she will "continue to collaborate with folks in Chicago. I'll always be a cognitive scientist."

She has written two popular books on the mind–body connection, Choke (2010, Free Press) and How the Body Knows Its Mind (2015, Atria Press). Her work has explored questions raised by her own early experience with "choking" during important performance events, and now represents a whole array of investigations into how to help people — from small children to parents to elite athletes — harness their potential to learn and excel.

In 2014, Beilock took on the additional role of vice provost for academic initiatives at Chicago, moving up last year to executive vice provost, a "high-striving leadership role, and I loved it," she says. In that role, in 2015, she created UChicago Grad, which offers graduate students and postdocs a variety of programs, events, workshops, and one-on-one coaching on presentation skills and interviewing, with an eye to helping them find good jobs not only in academia, but also in industry, nonprofits and government. Last year, she was named  the Stella M. Rowley professor of psychology.

"There's this false dichotomy, this idea that students need one set of skills for an academic career and another for industry,” she says. “They're a lot of the same skills, which we work to help our students acquire — to articulate a viewpoint, listen, take in new information and adjust their thinking based on what they've learned, to write and understand data — skills that are important no matter what endeavor they pursue."

Beilock says the same is true for undergraduate students like her new charges at Barnard, which was founded in 1889, one of the original Seven Sisters, elite women's colleges associated with the once all-male Ivy League. Barnard, with about 2,500 students, is affiliated with Columbia University.

"The liberal arts span across the humanities, the social sciences, the biological and natural sciences, and what this type of education gives students is the ability to think. The world is changing, and our role is to get them out with the tools they need in their first job, second job, eighth job, and graduate school," she says.

Beilock thinks her background in psychology will help her. She received her bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and doctorates in kinesiology and in psychology from Michigan State University in East Lansing. Success in life depends, she says, "not just on knowledge or skills in a particular area, but also on having the psychological tools to put your best foot forward when it matters most. I hope that idea has influenced some to think about not just the math lesson but also how you feel about that lesson, and not just how you're practicing that swing on the golf course but how you're training your mind. That's what I've tried to work on throughout my research career, and I think a lot of those lessons will be helpful in the next chapter."

She has "always been interested in women and girls" in her research, "in understanding some of the psychological barriers that keep them from achieving up to their potential," she says. Research shows that seeing women in leadership roles encourages girls to be optimistic about their own chances to succeed in those pursuits, and that's something Beilock says she will be happy to represent and foster at Barnard.

"Barnard is the best of both worlds, a stellar, small women's liberal arts college working in tandem with a large research university,” she says. “Our women take classes with Columbia students. Our faculty members are tenured" at both institutions. "Students have the ability to choose the path they want to take. It's really a singular experience."

Another initiative she worked on in the provost's office at Chicago was the oversight of UChicago Urban, a pan-university effort that seeks to enhance engagement between the academy and the city that surrounds it. Beilock, whose role at Barnard also carries the title of dean at Columbia University, hopes to reflect that experience in her new job as well — investigating "how research around urban education is actually implemented in urban schools, and what we learn from teachers and others in urban schools about the types of research questions we should be asking. That was fascinating work for me. I'm thinking of Barnard too as a part of the great city of New York."

She is also excited about her own research over the last few years on how to cut through young students' math anxiety. As a researcher, she uses "converging methodologies" in her work — behavioral performance measures like reaction time and accuracy, concrete stress markers like salivary cortisol, and neuro-imaging.

Parents who are anxious about math can transmit those anxieties, she says. "Anxious parents also tend not to want to do math with their children, and don't talk about it as much. We've published work over the past couple of years that shows that giving parents opportunities to do math in a fun and interesting way with their young children — maybe not just bedtime stories, but also bedtime math — can change how much children learn in math across the school year. It's especially true for parents who tend to be most anxious about math. I think it's really exciting that we can provide tools for children, and for parents to support their children in achieving up to their ability," Beilock says.

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23 Aug 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Dennis Morrison

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs. Dr. Dennis Morrison is the Chief Clinical Officer at Netsmart Technologies, the largest provider of electronic health records and related technologies and services to behavioral healthcare and other human services organizations. In his role, he helps make sure customers are using tools that meet their needs and are clinically appropriate and psychometrically sound. Learn how you can apply your psychology education to a similar career path.

Dennis MorrisonSpeaker:
Dr. Dennis Morrison has worked in the behavioral health field since 1969. Academically, he holds two Masters degrees in Psychology and Exercise Physiology from Ball State University. His doctorate is in Counseling Psychology also from Ball State University. He is a prolific author, frequent presenter (including a TEDx talk), and is co-inventor on a patent for a behavioral healthcare outcomes software product.

 

Garth Fowler, PhDHost:
Garth A. Fowler, PhD, is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

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19 Aug 2017

Game: Jumping Frog Puzzle

This frog needs your help to put him back together so that he can jump away. Using your mouse and cursor, click and drag to separate the pieces. Click on a piece and drag it to put it in place next to other pieces. Clicking on the arrowed circle and moving mouse in each piece will allow you to rotate it. When a piece is about to be joined to another correctly it will light up. Let go of the cursor to place it. Continue joining pieces until the frog is complete. When you are finished, he will jump away.

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14 Aug 2017

The Art (and Science) of Excellent Mentoring

The Art (and Science) of Excellent Mentoring

This series provides evidence-based rules of engagement for developing high-impact mentoring relationships and addresses some of the most salient and consistent ethical challenges and tensions for mentors in any organization or context. *This series is eligible for CE credit. Earn 1 CE credit for each session.

The two-part series includes the following topics:

Becoming a Master Mentor

Learn the interpersonal habits and behavior strategies of Master Mentors, including techniques for forming and managing effective mentorships.

Ethical Issues in Mentoring Relationship

Utilizing a mentoring Code of Ethics and ethics vignettes, this workshop emphasizes the values, attitudes, and behaviors of ethically conscientious mentors.

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14 Aug 2017

Ethical Issues in Mentoring Relationships

Decades of research indicates that mentorships lead to significant positive career and personal outcomes for mentees.  But mentoring relationships are also interpersonally complex, fluid, ever evolving, and sometimes dysfunctional.  This workshop addresses some of the most salient and consistent ethical challenges and tensions for mentors in any organization or context.  Mentoring relationships are framed as fiduciary relationships in which mentors own a fundamental obligation to avoid harm to the mentee and to promote the mentee’s best interests whenever possible.  Utilizing a mentoring Code of Ethics and ethics vignettes, this workshop emphasizes the values, attitudes, and behaviors of ethically conscientious mentors.

Learning Objective
Describe at least 5 of the principles bearing on ethical mentorship.

W. Brad Johnson, PhDPresenter
W. Brad Johnson is Professor of psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics and Law at the United States Naval Academy, and a Faculty Associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. A clinical psychologist Dr. Johnson is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and recipient of the Johns Hopkins University Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Johnson is the author of numerous publications including 13 books, in the areas of mentoring, professional ethics, and counseling. His most recent book is: Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women (2016, with David Smith).

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11 Aug 2017

Game: Wild Wild Taxi

Play taxi driver by creating riveting speed runs as you rush to beat the time. You'll have to switch to the open lanes at the perfect time before drivers cut you off. Pound those keyboard arrow keys to accelerate forward and pass the cars blocking you ahead and keeping you from crossing the crucial time lines. Your quick thinking will be the deciding factor to garner the top spots in the scoring list. Each checkpoint you make adds up an additional time which means more asphalt to run. Failing to reach a checkpoint when the time runs out will mean that your mission is over.

How to play:
  • Put cursor on start to begin.
  • When the screen says, “go,” press the up arrow to get your car moving.
  • The more you press the up-arrow key, the faster your car will go. The down-arrow key will make you decelerate.
  • Use left and right-arrow keys to change lanes.
  • Space bar lets you jump over cars for points.
  • If you don’t make the checkpoint before the timer runs out, your game is over.

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10 Aug 2017

Becoming a Master Mentor

This practical workshop provides evidence-based rules of engagement for developing high-impact mentoring relationships. Topics include the interpersonal habits and behavior strategies of Master Mentors, including techniques for forming and managing effective mentorships. The instructor emphasizes theory-supported and evidence-based mentoring strategies. This workshop is also dedicated to helping organizational and educational leaders think in an informed way about the key ingredients of a strong mentoring culture and various structures for increasing both the prevalence and efficacy of mentoring in their organizations.

Learning Objective
Articulate at least 10 salient practices of Master Mentors.

W. Brad Johnson, PhDPresenter
W. Brad Johnson is Professor of psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics and Law at the United States Naval Academy, and a Faculty Associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. A clinical psychologist Dr. Johnson is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and recipient of the Johns Hopkins University Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Johnson is the author of numerous publications including 13 books, in the areas of mentoring, professional ethics, and counseling. His most recent book is: Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women (2016, with David Smith).

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09 Aug 2017

David Schwebel Taps Virtual Reality to Keep Kids Safe

David Schwebel Taps Virtual Reality to Keep Kids Safe
David Schwebel
APA Fellow David Schwebel not only studies the effects of mobile technology on pedestrian safety, but also harnesses virtual reality to help prevent injuries caused by distracted walking.

A young girl prepares to cross a busy street, her face plastered to a smartphone. Will she step off the curb and run for it or wait for a gap?

It may sound like a phone-happy, distracted pedestrian but it’s actually the reverse: The girl is using a smartphone—coupled with virtual-reality technology—to help her learn how to cross the street safely.

The experiment is the latest brainchild of APA Fellow David Schwebel, a leading researcher in child-injury prevention and professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he directs the UAB Youth Safety Lab.

Schwebel has created a sophisticated street-crossing training application that runs using software for a smartphone retrofitted with Google Cardboard—an inexpensive virtual-reality platform.

The user just places a phone into a cardboard or plastic viewer, and looks through its plastic lenses into a virtual world of traffic—complete with sounds and passing cars. The “traffic” moves at different speeds, with variances for car distances and gap sizes. When students judge it safe, they click a button and step off the virtual curb to cross the street.

“We record absolutely everything,” says Schwebel. “We know exactly when they choose to cross the street, their speed of walking, the speed of vehicles, which gaps they’re choosing, whether they enter soon after a car passes or if there’s a delay—which is a good proxy of their cognitive processing.”

The simulator lets Schwebel and his students study a dangerous task without putting children at risk—and it gives participants great practice for the real world.

While the intervention may be fun, the imperative for his work is deadly serious: Pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. leaped 11 percent to more than 6,000 deaths in 2016. Of the estimated 270,000 pedestrian traffic deaths worldwide, nearly half are youths.

Schwebel is among a surprisingly scant cohort of research psychologists working in the field of youth safety. His Youth Safety Lab is one of the few academic research centers in North America devoted to researching child safety, and is a major locus for research and student training.

“When you take a step back from pedestrian safety and realize that injuries are by a huge margin the leading cause of child death in America—and one of the leading ones globally—it’s pretty remarkable that more psychologists aren’t thinking about the behavioral aspects of it,” notes Schwebel.

Schwebel has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and conducts a wide spectrum of research at his lab: pedestrian safety, poisoning prevention, global injury prevention, dog-bite prevention, youth soccer safety, playground safety, lifeguard behavior, car-seat safety, among many others.

It’s enough potential danger to keep any helicopter parent permanently on high spin.

“Clearly at every age there are risks,” acknowledges Schwebel, “. . . but children as young as 18 months can be taught to follow rules and avoid injury.”

Although he has earned a reputation as a technologically innovative researcher, one of his most successful youth-safety interventions was decidedly low tech—and targeted caregivers as much as it did children.

He developed a “Stamp-in-Safety” program to help improve teacher supervision of preschoolers on playgrounds, where nearly 70 percent of preschool injuries occur.

“We said, the teachers are in the shade talking about their weekend and the kids are running around on the playground. How can we change this?” notes Schwebel.

The solution was simple: Give nametags to all kids and equip teachers with self-inking stamps. When teachers see a child playing safely they give him or her an ink stamp as a reward. “On the surface it’s rewarding the child for safe behavior,” notes Schwebel, “but underneath the goal was to change teacher behavior too.”

It was perhaps inevitable that Schwebel would become a psychologist. The son and grandson of psychologists—father Dr. Andrew Schwebel taught at Ohio State University, and grandfather Dr. Milton Schwebel was a dean at Rutgers University—psychology was “the family business.”

“I grew up with psychology as part of my life,” he says. “As a kid, I sometimes even went to APA conventions.”

Schwebel got a taste for applied research as an undergrad at Yale, where he worked with noted psychologist Jerome Singer. His mentor had been hired by creators of the Barney and Friends children’s television show on PBS to evaluate its effectiveness in teaching children.

“As much as parents got sick of the [theme] song, the show actually taught children a lot,” says Schwebel. “We had children watch the show, as well as getting lessons in school. Our research showed that children learned as much from the show as they did from their teachers on the same topics.”

Based on their findings, the show’s creators rewrote some episodes to increase their effectiveness. “That taught me how psychology could really make a difference,” says Schwebel.

He has carried that passion for applied psychology into much of his research, developing interventions that offer real-world tools based on data collected in his lab and in the field. In some cases, his work may have directly saved lives.

Several years ago, for instance, he was approached by an attorney representing a family whose toddler son had died from drinking torch fuel. It became one of several child-poisoning lawsuits against manufacturers.

In a series of studies, Schwebel and his researchers studied the shape, coloring and labeling of a variety of bottles to determine how likely preliterate children were to consider them as something safe to consume—or to avoid.

“We discovered, not surprisingly, that they were more likely to judge an opaque, black bottle as dangerous than a transparent torch-fuel bottle with juice-colored liquid inside,” says Schwebel, adding: “Then the company started packaging the product in a dark-colored bottle. I have to assume that my research played at least some role in that decision.”

Schwebel’s penchant for applied research and social justice also has resulted in many international research partnerships. He has worked with researchers to evaluate kerosene-safety practices in low-income South African communities and in rural Uganda, and conducted extensive research with partners in China.

”I enjoy working with people from other cultures and I also think I have some obligation,” says Schwebel, “because ultimately we conduct science to improve society. There is higher risk of injury in other countries so that’s a priority for me.”

One long-running collaboration with Iranian researchers, which because of political issues was conducted entirely through emails, highlighted self-immolation among young women in Iran.

“It’s devastating, culturally bound, and it tends to be low-educated young wives who . . . often have tough lives,” he says. “It sometimes leads to severe depression, and immolation is in many cases their only means to commit suicide.”

These days, Schwebel is focusing on getting his pedestrian-safety programs to scale big—and even hop continents.

A recent test run with schoolchildren in China was a big hit. The class went wild when the technology was introduced and the trainings netted great results. The PI on several grants from the NIH, Schwebel hopes to expand this work into other rapidly motorizing countries, including South Africa and Iran.

“With Google Cardboard all you need is a smartphone and a $3 piece of cardboard with a couple of plastic lenses and magnets. It’s not a high-priced device. And since smartphones are everywhere, even in low-income communities . . . it’s really feasible anywhere in the world,” he says.

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01 Aug 2017

Game: Ghost Man

In this game you should move Ghost Man to eat all the foods in the maze, there will be a ghost chasing you and you should get away from them. There are also special power foods scattered throughout the maze and after you've eaten such foods, you will become invincible for a while and be able to eat the ghosts as well. The number of ghosts chasing you will increase as the game progresses.

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01 Aug 2017

APA 2016 Annual Report

APA 2016 Annual Report

As a psychologist and valued member of APA, your success depends on factors that go beyond your own hard work and expertise. You also need representation on the critical issues facing all of psychology in this time of uncertainty and change. You need access to tools and resources that help you keep pace with the developments in the field. With new leadership and a renewed focus on making your membership more relevant, APA offers what you need and is meeting the promise of our mission—to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

As APA’s new CEO, I am pleased to announce the availability of the 2016 APA Annual Report, which reflects the excellent work and accomplishments of APA in 2016. In prior years, the APA Annual Report was mailed to you in hard copy, but now it is in digital format and conveniently accessible anytime and anywhere, with interactive features and videos. A short, downloadable pdf featuring highlights of the digital report is also available on the APA website.

The past year has brought both progress and accomplishments, and we think you’ll especially enjoy reading about these achievements in the report:

• The year in review, including the many ways APA supported its mission by educating the public about mental health and psychology’s scientific basis and by advocating for key federal policies and legislation
• The top initiatives APA delivered for psychology and psychologists in science, practice, public interest and education through its publications and databases, value-added products and national and international programs
• The APA treasurer’s report and financial statements

I hope you’ll delve into the details of this report to learn how APA made an impact in 2016 in ways that support your career, advance psychology and improve people’s lives.

Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD
Chief Executive Officer
American Psychological Association

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