23 May 2017

A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles Booklet

A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles Booklet

Psychologists working in the field of education study how people learn and retain knowledge. Their research unlocks clues about the way people process information that can help every student learn.

This booklet, A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles from APA Journals, zeroes in on a range of educational issues from student challenges in learning mathematics to improving teacher-student relationships.

If you enjoy these articles, don’t stop here. APA’s Journals Program maintains a database of hundreds of papers on educational psychology. And as an APA member, you enjoy highly discounted access that enables you to explore these and other research topics online at www.apa.org/pubs/journals.

 

Did you find this booklet interesting or useful?

0 0
23 May 2017

Crossing Cultural Borders with Kenneth Wang

Crossing Cultural Borders with Kenneth Wang
Ken Wang
APA Fellow Kenneth Wang's interests include perfectionism, cross-national psychological adjustment, cross-cultural and multicultural psychology, and Asian and Asian American mental health.

Kenneth Wang, PhD, now based in Pasadena, Calif., struggled to navigate two cultures growing up. Born and raised in Taiwan, he spent five years in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as a young boy. Even today, Wang says, "I'm not 100 percent comfortable" in either China or the United States.

From his experience, Wang is convinced that leaving one culture behind to live in another, even temporarily, can shake a person's identity. His sense of the potential impact of that common transition has shaped his work. An associate professor in the School of Psychology at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., Wang specializes in educational counseling, and he does much of his research with students. He also has a private practice.

"I've conceptualized crossing cultural borders as experiencing loss — the loss of relevant knowledge and a sense of belonging," he says. "This is not an original idea, but I draw on my own experience and observations of that."

Wang and his colleagues have specifically addressed the adjustment trajectories of hundreds of international students in the United States, as well as factors that might affect their transitions, like perfectionistic tendencies. He's also studied the constellation of traits that can help students find their feet, which has been dubbed cultural intelligence, or CQ. His research shows that some students fret most before they ever leave home; others are blindsided by culture shock, then adjust. ​​Yet another group suffers psychological distress that's more about them as individuals than their transition to another culture.

"International students are not all alike in the way they adjust" to new situations, Wang says. He'd like to be part of an effort to identify and encourage supports to help students and other visitors, refugees and immigrants achieve "belongingness" quickly in their new societies.

Wang is also known for his work assessing perfectionism among individuals in different groups. These are not necessarily people from other countries; for example, he has looked at perfectionism and identity issues in African-American and religious students as well.​ Still, these people can experience a tremendous amount of stress when mainstream values conflict with those of the subculture they grew up in.

The child of professor parents, Wang lived in Tuscaloosa between the ages of 5 and 10 while his father pursued a PhD at the University of Alabama. Wang was the first Asian student ever to attend his Tuscaloosa elementary school. When soccer teams formed along racial lines, the white kids versus the black kids, it was up to him to decide which team to join. He felt he didn't fit in, and he experienced some bullying, he says. His struggles continued even after his return to Taiwan. While he looked like everyone else, "I felt different. I didn't know the songs or games, and I struggled to learn to read and write Chinese, to fit in, to function in that cultural context. I thought there was something wrong with me," he says.

A number of basic values were different as well, Wang says. "Self-promotion is critical in the United States," for example, but humility is important in Taiwan. And always, Wang was held to tough standards, no matter where he was.

For Asians and Asian-Americans, perfectionism is "not just individual but collectivistic," he says. Instructors in Asian schools tend to "focus on where people have gone wrong, where they can improve," in contrast with mainstream American society, which may try to reinforce "feeling good about yourself," even if a student's performance is below par. Asian students have a "more realistic view" of how they're doing and "where they fit in," Wang says, but the Asian approach can take a toll. Even if the culture views the student's distress as constructive, the individual may not get much satisfaction from his or her own success, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

As an adult, Wang worked for years in business, first in marketing and then in planning, until he noticed he was more interested in a colleague's marital problems than in his work. The most frustrating part of that for Wang was that he wasn't able to offer any helpful advice.

His future wife was taking a counseling class as part of her education curriculum, and introduced him to the idea of empathy, "of being in another person's shoes, and reflecting," he recalls. That changed his life. Wang decided to go into a helping profession and came back to the United States, to Wheaton College, a small Christian school in Wheaton, Ill. Deciding against the ministry, he got a master's degree in counseling. When he finished, he returned to Taiwan and went to work in the Disability Resources Center at National Dong Hwa University in Hualien.

But counseling in Taiwan was not what it might have been in the United States. Wang had few clients and his time was taken up with administrative work. "I might as well have stayed in business," he says. Restless again, looking at various PhD programs, he noticed that at Pennsylvania State University in State College, some professors were studying perfectionism, including Robert Slaney, PhD, who had created the influential Almost Perfect Scale–Revised.

"That resonated with me," Wang recalls. The high standards he had grown up with, the "constant striving and pressure to perform well" made him want "to learn more about how that impacts a person." Wang's first publication, in 2006, was a paper he wrote with Slaney on perfectionism among Taiwanese students.

For Wang, his present job at the seminary affords him the opportunity to continue to explore cross-cultural differences, but with the added benefit of being able to travel to China several times a year. Fuller has strong ties to China and Taiwan through its China Initiative ministry, and that connection offers research and other collaborative opportunities.

Wang says, "Psychology encourages us to be who we are, and accepting of who we are. I've come to accept that I'm a cross-cultural person."

Did you find this article interesting?

0 0
04 May 2017

New CEO Talks About Future of APA

New CEO Talks About Future of APA

Just two weeks after Arthur C. Evans, PhD, took the helm of APA, he was thrust onto a stage in front of more than 450 APA staff members to talk about his vision for the association. He surprised the audience with a multiple-choice quiz about his favorite food and musical performer (lasagna and Dolly Parton, in case you were wondering) but he also sent a clear message: APA’s next chapter will be focused on making psychologists and psychology more visible to the general public.

“In my experience, people have a very limited view of psychology,” Evans said in an interview shortly after his first day as chief executive officer of APA. “They don’t understand the full range of research and science in the discipline. They should know the full impact of what we do, whether it’s in the media, in Congress or at the state level.”

Injecting psychology into the national conversation about public health and wellness is not just about treating the individual, he says, but about focusing on how psychology can have an impact on communities and society, making it relevant to people of all backgrounds.

Similarly, he says, being a member of APA is important for psychologists to feel connected and heard. “There are a lot of benefits of APA – the networking, the publications,” he said. “I’m interested in how to use the existing infrastructure and bring it into the age of Google and Amazon and Apple and make it really easy for people to benefit from all the resources we have.”

Before APA, Evans spent 12 years as commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, where he was widely recognized for transforming the city’s mental health system, improving its efficiency and changing lives. He invested heavily in empirically supported treatments and worked to implement evidence-based practices. At APA, he would like to continue finding ways to focus on and emphasize the science of the field. “I’d like to reach out to the science community who left APA or have elected not to join because they don’t perceive it as a place for them. I want every psychologist, no matter what they do, to feel like this is the place they should be.” 

And he’s already making sure psychologists’ voices are heard. At the recent round of consolidated meetings in Washington, D.C., Evans encouraged members to speak up about their work, and will continue to do that as he travels around the country and the world on behalf of APA and psychology. “I talked with different groups and asked them, ‘Do people know you’re doing this?’ We need to make sure the public understands it’s coming from APA and our field.”

In a new age of health care, psychologists cannot afford not to be part of the discussion, he says, whether it’s about research funding or prevention. “Right now, our health care system is only set up to deal with people after a diagnosis. There are tremendous opportunities for psychologists in population health to prevent health problems.”

As APA celebrates its 125th anniversary, Evans also wants to make sure the association stays on top of the latest trends in psychology, including emerging technologies, such as mental health apps, artificial intelligence and big data. “We cannot miss an opportunity to be a part of this research. We have to be on the leading edge.”

28 Apr 2017

Untenured and Untethered: Replacing Tenure-track Faculty with Adjuncts

Untenured and Untethered: Replacing Tenure-track Faculty with Adjuncts
Susie Sympson, PhD, began her career as a grocery store clerk. When an injury forced her to quit and she returned to school, she began dreaming of getting a PhD and becoming a professor. She achieved her goal, earning a University of Kansas doctorate in clinical psychology and becoming an academic.

Her dream didn't turn out as expected, however.

Sympson has been an adjunct psychology professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, for the last 11 years. With an annual salary of just $21,000 for three classes a semester plus one in the summer, she hasn't put a dent in the principal of her $500-a-month student loan debt. And with such low pay, saving anything for retirement has been impossible.

"There's a lack of respect for our training and for us as colleagues," says Sympson. "The administration acts like adjuncts are a dime a dozen."

Sympson's case is far from unusual. Non-tenure-track professors now represent more than 70 percent of the academic workforce, according to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). As tenure-track jobs give way to what some call higher education's "adjunctification," it isn't just adjuncts who are suffering. The trend also has ramifications for student learning, research and even academic freedom.

Set up to fail

While many assume that economic factors are forcing schools to use adjuncts, the contingent workforce has grown fastest during boom times, says AAUP. Instead of investing in a tenured workforce, AAUP says, schools have invested in technology and facilities. Noting the low pay, long hours, long commutes, instability and lack of benefits, professional support and opportunities for advancement, a 2014 report by the U.S. House of Representatives describes adjuncts as "the working poor."

What happens when students are taught by professors struggling to make a living? A 2014 review of the evidence by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation cites lower graduation and retention rates and decreased transfers from two-year to four-year institutions. Those outcomes aren't the fault of adjuncts but of the last-minute hiring decisions, lack of office space and other supports and other working conditions adjuncts typically face.

That inability to perform to their highest potential can weigh heavily on adjuncts, says Gretchen M. Reevy, PhD, a lecturer in psychology at California State University, East Bay, who credits her union for making adjuncts like her some of the country's luckiest.

In a study of non-tenure-track faculty, Reevy and co-author Grace Deason, PhD, a University of Wisconsin La Crosse assistant psychology professor, found that adjuncts most committed to their school were more likely to suffer stress, anxiety and depression (Frontiers in Psychology, 2014). Other risk factors included low income, inability to find permanent positions and coping mechanisms rooted in denial or giving up.

And being adjuncts renders faculty less able to influence their institutions' administrations, adds Reevy. Adjuncts are typically excluded from governance bodies, so the growing preponderance of adjuncts means faculty have less sway.

"A lot of people aren't involved in curriculum decisions and so forth," she says. "The power is shifting from faculty to the administration."

Research suffers, too, according to an AAUP report. Doing research requires stability and continuity—luxuries many adjuncts lack given their year-to-year or even semester-to-semester appointments, the report emphasizes. In addition, adjuncts often cobble together jobs at multiple institutions or take on extra classes to make ends meet, so they have little time for research. Plus, institutions may not grant adjuncts access to laboratories or even libraries and often exclude them from professional development opportunities.

"Most people with PhDs want to do scholarly work," says Reevy, who has been teaching 10 to 13 classes a year for more than two decades. "It's a waste of their talent."

Realistic expectations

It's hard to know how many psychology professors are adjuncts, says Eddy Ameen, PhD, who heads APA's Office on Early Career Psychologists. For many, especially practitioners, being an adjunct is "a helpful but minor secondary source of income," he says. Ameen himself is an adjunct professor, a side gig that allows him to keep a hand in academia.

The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) is trying to determine how many recent grads are struggling as adjuncts, says Joanna Streck, a University of Vermont clinical psychology graduate student who serves on APAGS's Science Committee. She invites adjuncts to email her about their experiences at apags@apa.org.

Although advocates are working to change the system via living wage campaigns, unionizing efforts and calls to create teaching-oriented tenure-track positions, being realistic about your prospects is key, says Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD, associate executive director of APAGS. "Students are being trained for positions that just don't exist anymore," he says.

Instead, he urges academically minded students to consider what used to be called "alternative" careers that will allow them to use their research skills in nonacademic settings. "When half of doctorates may not end up in academic settings anymore, they're no longer 'alternative' careers," he says.

Sympson agrees. "There's no way this represents any kind of a future," she says.

By Rebecca A. Clay


Did you find this article useful?

1 0
26 Apr 2017

Gregory Ball and the Adaptiveness of Behavior

Gregory Ball and the Adaptiveness of Behavior
Gregory Ball
APA Fellow Gregory Ball has spent most of his academic career studying animals and birds, and using the findings to develop understanding about the human brain and behavior.

Growing up, Gregory Ball, PhD, learned a lot about birds from his father, who did his undergraduate and graduate studies in zoology. “He wanted to be an ornithologist,” he recalls, speaking to the American Psychological Association from his office at the University of Maryland, where he is a professor and dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Science and APA Fellow.

That experience helped shape Ball’s own future interest and research on the interrelation of hormones, the brain, and reproductive behavior. By studying nonhuman animals, in Ball’s case birds, “you can study relationships between the brain and physiology in a way that you can’t in primates and humans,” he said.

In his lab at the University of Maryland, his team is studying how the perception of song induces gene expression in the brain of birds and how early experience with different kinds of song might affect that gene expression. They also recently published a study looking at how hormones interact with the dopamine system to affect sexual motivation. “Hormones do their work by modulating neurotransmitters and we’re trying to understand the circuit that they interact with to do that,” he said. According to the study, the projection from the preoptic area of the brain to the ventral tegmental area, where the dopamine of one of four major dopamine systems originates, to the accumbens, which plays a significant role in the cognitive processing of aversion, motivation, reward, and reinforcement learning, is very important in that process.

One of the Ball’s favorite recent findings to come out of his lab is related to steroids. “People think that a steroid has a very general effect on behavior – that it just makes you more motivated, or stimulated to do something,” Ball said enthusiastically.

“And we’ve done experiments where we’ve put tiny amounts of hormones or hormone blockers on the brain and we’ve shown that hormones actually act in multiple parts of the brain in specific ways to modulate behavior. For instance, the desire to sing is controlled in one part of the brain, but the control of how well you produce song in a temporal fashion is modulated in another part of the brain.”

Ball first got swept up in the studies of brain function and behavior in animals while studying at Columbia University. He took his introduction to psychology course with Dr. Herbert S. Terrace, who, among other things, led the famous study of animal language acquisition in the chimpanzee Nim Chimpsky. Ball began working with Terrace, who had studied under B.F. Skinner, the year after he began working with Chimpsky. He was intrigued by the studies of brain function and behavior in animals at Columbia (along with the then-contentious, now-settled debate between behavioral and cognitive psychologists) and began his longtime specialization in experimenting on pigeons.

Under Terrace, they employed the Skinnerian approach, which doesn’t take into the account private events – like thinking, perceptions, and unobservable emotions – as causes of an organism’s behavior. Ball said he sensed something was missing in studying the pigeons this way.

“They didn’t know if they were males or females, they didn’t know anything about pigeons. They were just animals that you put in the box and you saw how the stimuli affected them. And this is that Skinnerian notion that the organism didn’t really matter – that the contingencies of reinforcement were so powerful that the same thing that happens in a pigeon could be programmed to happen in [other animals].”

Despite disagreeing with the Skinnerian approach, he learned in his early work in Terrace’s lab that he could parse and further understand many topics related to the brain and behavior by looking at nonhuman animals. He began to understand the potential for studying animals other than humans and use the findings to develop understanding about the human brain and behavior.

Around that time, he met Dr. Rae Silver, who had just come to Columbia University and was studying the parental behavior of doves in their natural habitat. He became her first research assistant at the university, which he said was a key event in his career as a psychologist.

“It was another milestone in my career because I realized ‘Oh, this is it!’ You study the animal on its own terms, you study the natural behavior of the animal, and try to glean what you can about the general principles of physiology and the brain related to behavior,” Ball said. “And that’s when I sort of saw that by studying these relationships in animals, you can understand the evolution, the adaptiveness of behavior and put it in the broader natural context.”

After his formative years at Columbia, he earned a PhD in psychobiology at Rutgers University, and completed his postdoctoral work in comparative neuroendocrinology and ethology at Rockefeller University. Prior to getting hired by the University of Maryland in 2014, he taught at Rutgers, Boston College, and Johns Hopkins University.
Today, as dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Science, much of his time is filled with administrative tasks, but he still finds time to pop over to the lab and check on his staff’s research while sharing encouraging stories to inspire the next generation of academics to follow their dreams.

One story he always enjoys retelling is about growing up right down the street from the University of Maryland and how on one summer break from his studies at Columbia, he took a job cutting the institution’s grass.

 “[I tell them] I used to mow the lawn of the building that I’m now dean of,” he says with a chuckle.

Did you find this article interesting?

0 1
21 Apr 2017

10 Tips for Speaking Like a Ted Talk Pro

10 Tips for Speaking Like a Ted Talk Pro

Advice from the experts on how to make any presentation sing

Psychologists and graduate students are often called upon to speak to an audience, whether to give a conference presentation, deliver a lecture to a class, lead a meeting or give a talk in the community. But public speaking is a skill that comes more naturally to some than to others, and there are some common pitfalls to avoid, such as seeming disorganized or looking down at notes rather than at your audience.

Regardless of how practiced you may be at public speaking, there are some very effective strategies to use to deliver engaging talks. The next time you have a speaking engagement, try these tips to deliver your message like a TED Talk presenter:

1. Know your audience.
Keep in mind whom you are going to be addressing when you craft your presentation, says Robert Sternberg, PhD, a former APA president who is a professor of human development at Cornell University. Is the audience going to be mainly fellow psychologists, health professionals, other professional groups, students or consumers? What do they want and need to hear? Knowing whom you are speaking to will help you tailor the talk and will help keep the audience engaged.

2. Keep it simple, especially if you're going to give a talk to a general audience.
"People have a tendency to give presentations the audience doesn't understand," says Barry Schwartz, PhD, a psychology professor emeritus at Swarthmore College and a visiting professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He suggests giving a talk that makes people feel like they're smart and like they want to learn more about the topic. "The curse of knowledge is that once you know something, you forget what it was like when you didn't know it," he says. "I imagine that I'm going to present to my grandmother, who had a fifth-grade education."

3. Emphasize connection over content.
To best engage listeners, build your speech from an emotional place rather than from the content, says Kristi Hedges, leadership coach and author of the 2011 book "The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others." Rattling off facts and figures and talking at the audience isn't effective if they aren't interested in what you are saying. "Be clear about what you want the audience to walk away with when they leave and use that intent as a structure to frame your talk," says Hedges. Your passion for a topic can draw people in; talking without any enthusiasm for the topic can deplete energy in the room and eclipse your message. "Talk to persuade, not just to inform," adds Sternberg.

4. Be authentic.
Some speakers may try to sound like someone they admire instead of being themselves, notes Daniel Gilbert, PhD, professor of psychology at Harvard University. "Some people try to sing like their favorite singer or dance like their favorite dancer," says Gilbert. "Similarly, some speakers may try to sound like Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy." Authenticity—sounding like yourself and using everyday language—is key to getting your message across to an audience, says Gilbert.

5. Diversify your delivery.
People don't learn just by listening—different people learn in different ways, says Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, APA's 2016 president. Use visual tools (such as slides or a video), incorporate research and tell stories. Anecdotes can be a particularly effective way to connect with an audience. "It could be a story about yourself, especially if you're using humor and making fun of yourself," says McDaniel. One important tip to keep in mind about multimedia presentations: Don't let the technology obscure what you're trying to say, says Schwartz. "PowerPoint is incredibly powerful, but use it to get halfway there, rather than expecting it to do the whole job for you," he says.

6. Shake it up.
Another reason to use different media in your talk is to make it more dynamic and compelling. "Using mixed media creates energy and vibrancy," says Hedges. Think about ways to use slides, video, audio, handouts, props and even spontaneous smartphone polls to engage your audience. You might, for instance, start with a video and then use powerful images later in your talk, says Hedges. Or you can begin with an engrossing question and use the audience feedback as data with polling software such as Poll Everywhere.

7. Stick to your points.
Before you talk, determine your main points and outline them, says McDaniel. Some people refer to notes on stage while others may use PowerPoint or Keynote slides as prompts. One cautionary tip: Avoid simply putting the text of your speech in slides. "Writing out the words you'll be saying on slides is boring," says McDaniel. "Slides should be used for emphasis."

8. Know the setup.
Have a run-through in the space you'll be speaking at if possible, especially if you'll be talking in front of a large audience. Test the tech system during that practice run to troubleshoot possible problems in advance. For instance, the sound may not run properly with your video or your slides may be set up behind you (which would mean you'll have to constantly turn your head to see where you are in your talk).

9. Don't lecture the whole time.
Keep in mind that people don't have long attention spans. If you need to explore a topic deeply, use humor, an engaging video or other media to present various aspects of the topic. You can also break up a long talk by posing questions to the audience, suggests Hedges.

10. Leave time for questions.
Talking until the last minute is a common mistake many speakers make, says Hedges. If you have an hourlong presentation, plan for 45 minutes of talking and 15 minutes for questions.

A Ted Talk on Ted Talks: To watch a video on how to give a great talk, go to www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_teds_secret_to_great_public_speaking.

By Katherine Lee


Did you find this article useful?

5 0
30 Mar 2017

Surviving and Thriving in Academia: A Guide for Members of Marginalized Groups

Surviving and Thriving in Academia: A Guide for Members of Marginalized Groups

Surviving and Thriving in Academia: A Guide for Members of Marginalized Groups, is for women and psychologists of color pursuing careers in academia, including African Americans/Blacks, American Indians/Native Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, Latinas/os/Hispanics, White women (in some contexts), and the potential issues regarding intersectionality for these populations with other identities (i.e., sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, etc.). 

There are four overarching goals:

  1. Provide an overview of the current political landscape in academia.
  2. Assist new PhDs in seeking and selecting jobs that effectively complement their personal mix of skills and career goals.
  3. Help faculty members maximize their chances of gaining promotion and tenure.
  4. Identify strategies for moving on after the promotion and tenure decision.

It was written and reviewed by psychologists who have experienced or have close personal knowledge of the opportunities and special challenges academia poses for traditionally marginalized groups. It has been developed as a guide, reference, and resource.

 

The survival guide is an updated and revised edition of a guide first published in 1992 by the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP). In 1998, the guide was updated as the result of a collaborative effort between CWP and the APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology (CEMRRAT). This third edition is designed to address changes that have taken place since the production of the second edition in 1998, which may dramatically affect the level of success, even the survival, of women and psychologists of color pursuing careers in academic environments and/or in private practice. This third edition is once again a collaborative effort between the CEMRRAT2 Task Force and CWP.

Did you find this booklet interesting or useful?

18 4
07 Dec 2016

Grant Writing 101

Grant Writing 101

How to craft a grant that could boost your career prospects.

When Thomas Eissenberg, PhD, gives the first lecture of his grant-writing course for grad students, he asks his students how many plan to become professional writers. "Nobody raises their hands," says Eissenberg, a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. "That's too bad, because as a scientist, you'll be writing for a living."

Grant writing is a necessary part of life for many psychologists. If you plan a career in research, knowing how to find funding is key. But even psychologists who plan to go into practice benefit from grant-writing skills, says John G. Borkowski, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame. "A student going into an applied mental health career might very well have to apply for grants," he says. Someone working in community mental health, for instance, might seek funding for outreach programs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the state mental health agency.

No matter where your interests lie, it's never too early to familiarize yourself with the grant-writing process. "You're going to be doing it," says Eissenberg, "and you need to excel at it."

Special skills

If your university offers a grant-writing course, you should sign up, Eissenberg says. Just as writing a manuscript is completely different from writing a newspaper article or a novel, grant writing, too, is its own beast — and it's a tough skill to teach yourself. "It's not something that can be done in a list of 10 tips," he says.

Your mentor and other experienced faculty are also an invaluable resource. Ask if you can read their grants, or even offer to help your mentor write or edit a section. "Be your own advocate, and ask to see your mentor's grant proposals," says Amber Story, PhD, the deputy director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). "Grant writing is a collaborative process and being part of it early gets you a big leg up," she says.

Luckily, most psychology grad students aren't expected to come up with the funds to cover their entire dissertation research costs. Often, they're covered by departmental funds or grants awarded to their mentors. Once you start planning your own research projects, however, it's a good idea to start thinking about grants.

Talk to your advisor and your university's grant office for information on available funding, both internal and external. (See "Grant Resources" in the box below for more information on locating grant opportunities.)

The U.S. government is the biggest source of research funding for scientists. In fiscal year 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded more than $21 billion in research grants, plus another $772 million in training grants. The NSF, meanwhile, awarded more than $6.7 billion for research support, equipment and education.

For psychology graduate students, among the most coveted awards are the NIH's Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Predoctoral Fellows, known as the F31. This training grant helps cover the cost of your education — and it looks great on your resume, says Eissenberg. The NSF also offers a Graduate Research Fellowship.

After you've finished your degree, the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Postdoctoral Fellowships, or F32, are similarly prestigious grants that can help you land a great postdoc position. Ideally, you should apply for this grant during your dissertation year. At NSF, the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate offers SBE Postdoctoral Research Fellowships along two tracks — broadening participation and interdisciplinary training. Many smaller grants are also available to students and early-career scientists, both through the government and private foundations, including the American Psychological Foundation.

Your best foot forward

So you found a grant to apply for. Now what? First, make sure it's the right fit, Story says. The NSF and NIH have program officers to assist in the proposal process. They can help you make sure your idea is appropriate for a particular grant or funding agency before you write up the entire application.

"Write a few paragraphs about your project, email it to the program officer and ask for a phone call to discuss it," Story advises. "Call early to save yourself the time and grief."

And then make sure your application is watertight. To do that, say experts:

  • Know your audience. Different agencies and programs have different procedures, requirements and funding missions, says Story. Make sure you know the priorities of the agency you're applying to.
  • Take your time. It can be tempting to rush to get a proposal out when you see an opportunity. But if you don't budget enough time for your application, it shows, says Molly Wagster, PhD, the chief of the Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch at the NIH's National Institute on Aging. For all NIH grants, applicants may only revise and resubmit their proposal once, she says. If you don't put in a stellar effort in the first place, you're doing yourself a big disservice.
  • Pay attention to detail. Make sure your nouns agree with your verbs. Use spell check. Follow the submission guidelines exactly. "A sloppy proposal does give reviewers pause," Story says. "If you're not conscientious enough to take care with the proposal, how conscientious are you as a researcher?"
  • Be concise and clear. Have a compelling theoretical framework, and make sure your experiments will clearly test the hypothesis you've derived from that framework, Story says. "Those links have to be crystal clear." And don't forget that grant reviewers are mostly volunteer scientists and faculty members with busy full-time jobs, Eissenbeg adds. Make it easy for them to keep reading. "If your application isn't focused, you'll lose your audience very quickly."
  • Cover the bases. Some predoctoral grants require information about the applicant's training plan as well as his or her research plan. Sometimes applicants focus their energy on their research plans but give their training plans short shrift, Wagster says. Include details, such as how and when you'll be interacting with your primary mentor, and clearly describe your training timeline.
  • Rein it in. Being overly ambitious is a common problem, says Eissenberg. "Don't try to do too much. If the review committee senses a project can't be done in the time allotted and with the money requested, they can't possibly give you a good score," he says.
  • Show you care. Too often, applicants don't fully convey their enthusiasm, Eissenberg says. "Communicating passion for your idea counts for a lot."
  • Ask for help. Enlist your mentor or another colleague to read your application and offer critiques. Don't submit an application that hasn't been looked at by another set of eyes, says Borkowski.
  • Don't get discouraged. In fiscal year 2012, fewer than 20 percent of applicants to the NIH were awarded grants. The NSF success rate was less than 25 percent. Rejection is part of the process, even for experienced investigators. Hang in there. "Don't put the application in a drawer and leave it there. Build on it, resubmit it or submit it somewhere else," Borkowski says. "The first no is just the beginning to getting a yes."

A creative process

Submitting a polished application is obviously essential. But there are other steps you can take to make yourself attractive to grant committees. For instance, start publishing as early as possible.

"Publications show your past track record," says Borkowski. "Funding agencies want to give money to someone they can trust."

Also keep in mind current funding trends. Lately, Borkowski says, some funding agencies are particularly keen on research that explores the biological basis of behavior, as well as bench-to-bedside research that connects basic science to real-world problems. Interdisciplinary science is also highly prized by funding agencies, Eissenberg adds.

That said, don't contort your interests to make your research fit the latest funding fashions. Ultimately, your enthusiasm for an idea is what will make you successful both as a researcher and a grant writer. "If you're passionate about an idea, that's what's going to drive you forward," Eissenberg says.

Above all, don't be afraid of writing grant applications. The process isn't just about scoring dollars. It's also a way to hone your ideas.

"Grant writing should be a creative process," says Eissenberg — a chance to figure out how to solve a puzzle that intrigues you. "At least until you get to the budget stage and have reality hit, you have a question you want to answer and all the resources in the world to try to answer it," he adds. "It's an exciting enterprise, and you should want to write a grant."

By Kirsten Weir


Did you find this article useful?

0 0
06 Dec 2016

How Did You Get That Job? Q&A with Faculty Recruiter Dr. Patrick Smith

The knowledge, skills, and experience gained through your psychology education and training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs that you may never have previously considered. As chief of faculty affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. Patrick Smith uses his psychology expertise to find the best employees and to keep them happy and engaged. In this webinar, Dr. Smith shares his experience about his career path and how to apply a psychology background to this field of work .

patrick-smith
Dr. Patrick Smith

Speaker: Dr. Patrick Smith is the Chief Faculty Affairs Officer for the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He also serves as the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. Within these roles, he oversees academic leadership recruitment, contributes to leadership development, provides faculty consultation services, and manages principles of academic life (viz., appointment, promotions, tenure, and faculty development). Dr. Smith was featured in the November issue of the Monitor on Psychology’s popular column How Did You Get That Job?

 

Dr. Garth Fowler
Dr. Garth Fowler

Host: Dr. Garth A. Fowler 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.

 

This webinar series is based on, and borrows its name, How Did You Get That Job?, from the popular column in APA’s monthly member-magazine, The Monitor on Psychology.  You can read Dr. Smith's interview from the November 2016 issue here. The magazine is a benefit of membership with APA.

Did you find this webinar useful?

1 0
24 Oct 2016

Think Like a Scientist: Harnessing Current Events to Teach Psychological Science

Think Like a Scientist: Harnessing Current Events to Teach Psychological Science

Try these critical thinking activities to foster scientific literacy.

Every day the news media trumpet psychology-related findings with the potential to affect our lives directly and indirectly. And we do mean every day.

  • "Testing Neurons With Ultrasound" (Gorman, 2015).
  • "Study Does Not Link Breast-Feeding With Child’s IQ" (Bakalar, 2015).
  • "Effectiveness of Talk Therapy is Overstated, a Study Says" (Carey, 2015).

These headlines are just a sample from the website of one newspaper, The New York Times, on one day. In fact, the talk therapy article listed here even elicited a letter from the American Psychological Association pointing out that this article “was minimizing the clear benefits of psychotherapy that have been found over many years of research” (Anton, 2015), leading to an online dialog about psychology research. The media and other Internet sources, with their abundance of psychology-related material, provide a perfect proving ground for teaching scientific literacy.

A major goal of our courses — especially introductory psychology — is to teach students to be strong critical thinkers about psychology-related claims. This approach fits with current emphasis on teaching skills, and not just content, in the psychology classroom (see APA, 2013). In our opinion, the most important of these skills is scientific literacy.

To do this, we look to the growing body of research on how to teach scientific literacy. Most importantly, active learning, broadly defined, has been demonstrated to lead to better outcomes than straight lecture (Freeman, Eddy, McDonough, Smith, Okoroafor, Jordt, & Wenderoth, 2014). More specifically, Lovett and Greenhouse applied cognitive psychology research to the teaching of statistical and research methods concepts and developed several principles of effective teaching (2000). They found that students do not readily generalize new learning to other contexts. They also found that students tend to learn best when they can integrate new information into what they already know.

To help students build on what they know, we repeatedly dissect media examples so students apply psychological science to a variety of contexts. We start each class meeting by asking students to find psychology-related stories online — in major newspapers, on sports blogs, in political statements or even fashion e-zines. (For students without a connected device, we allow sharing. Alternatively, students can find an article before class.) There are only two rules: The article must be from the last 24 hours to demonstrate that psychology-related stories emerge every day, and it can’t be from a psychology-specific source like Psychology Today; it’s too easy when every story is related to psychology.

Without exception, students readily locate multiple examples — even in news sources that might seem far afield. Some are based on actual scientific research, like those in the headlines we opened with, whereas others are somewhat suspect, like the supposed relation of lipstick color to personality (Schultz, 2015) or tennis star Serena Williams’s superstitious belief in not washing her socks while on a winning streak (Brodie, 2014).

As instructors, we save the best of both scientific and not-so-scientific examples in our e-folders for the relevant introductory psychology chapter. Once a week, we engage in a longer-form exercise in which we introduce one example that offers opportunities for active learning. Over a 20- or 30-minute period, we use a four-part framework in which students:

  1. Identify the claim the researchers or journalists are making.
  2. Evaluate the evidence that is cited to support the claim.
  3. Consider alternative explanations for the finding.
  4. Consider the source of the research or claim.

Here’s a recent “ripped from the headlines” example. (For each step, we’ll include instructor preparation information.) A The New York Times blog post published on the same day as the articles listed above asked “Does Mindfulness Make for a Better Athlete?” (Reynolds, 2015). The reporter concluded that the study's findings “could mean that closely attending to our bodies might help us to be better, calmer athletic performers.”

Identify the Claim

In class, students read the article and identify the claim — in this case, that mindfulness improves athletic performance. At this step, we include a related interactive component. In fact, we choose articles that lend themselves to an activity. In this case, we might have students discuss in pairs their own anxieties about performance, whether in an athletic, artistic or academic endeavor. We would introduce some mindfulness techniques and have students practice them in the context of their own example. We might follow with a larger class discussion about how mindfulness might help performance.

As part of identifying the claim, we also ask students to talk about how the researchers have operationally defined the concepts they are studying. We encourage the students to think about different ways that the same concepts could be defined and measured, and how those differences might affect research findings.

Instructor preparation: Choose the article; develop a related activity that encourages active learning.

Evaluate the Evidence

Now we dig into the actual evidence, first by examining the source, in this case the blog post. The blog post tells us this research was published in a journal and conducted by scientists at a university, all good signs. It also tells us that the study was conducted on just seven elite BMX riders, all from the USA Cycle Team, who had their brains scanned while learning to identify signals of potential problems, underwent seven weeks of mindfulness training and then had their brains scanned again. Following the training, their response to the indicator of trouble ahead was improved, and they showed less “physiological panic.”

We then guide a discussion of the pros and cons of the study as presented in the news source. The pros include that university scientists were involved, and the study was peer reviewed. The cons include that there were just seven participants, with no random assignment and no control group. This is a within-groups design, and counterbalancing is not possible.

We then turn to the peer-reviewed journal article (Haase et al., 2015). In this example, we would inform the students that the researchers described this study as a pilot, acknowledging the small sample size. The published report also includes helpful graphs and brain scan images, some of which we would project so students could see the specifics of the data. We would reiterate the pros and cons that we gleaned from the article.

Instructor preparation: Locate and read the original source; identify specific information that will help students understand and evaluate the evidence.

Consider Alternative Explanations

For this step, we guide students to identify alternative explanations for the findings. We might do this as a larger group discussion or have students discuss in small groups first. For this example, we would discuss the lack of a control group and the possibility of confounds. But we would also discuss the alterative explanation that perhaps mindfulness led to different brain patterns — improved response with less “physiological panic” — without leading to improved athletic performance. After all, the researchers did not actually measure athletic performance.

We would ask students to identify where the blogger was careful to point this out. Specifically, she noted that “the experiment did not look at actual, subsequent athletic performance” (Reynolds, 2015). We would then point out that this is even more carefully discussed in the journal. The researchers explicitly point out that mindfulness training could have led to the results they reported “without actually affecting performance itself” (Haase et al., 2015, p. 10).

Instructor preparation: Develop a list of alternative explanations; locate and read any additional articles that relate to these alternative explanations.

Consider the Source

Finally, we compare and contrast the source we started with — the blog post in this case — with the peer-reviewed journal article. We talk about what to look for in a news story or other source that indicates that it’s based on research, including names and institutions of researchers and a mention of a published study. In cases in which there is no peer-reviewed journal article, like some websites that make wild claims to sell you something, we discuss the flaws of sources that don’t point to science.

Instructor preparation: Develop a brief overview (we use PowerPoint) of why peer-reviewed journal articles are almost always a better source than a newspaper, blog or website, and of what students should look for when evaluating these. This can be reused when this activity is repeated with a new source. We also recommend evaluating sources using the CRAP test (currency, reliability, authority and purpose/point of view) that can be found at many university websites.

This format for a recurring activity was developed based on research on the scholarship of teaching and learning and allows for active learning and repetition across contexts. In our experience, early in the semester, students have difficulty finding examples of psychological science in the news, unless a headline makes it explicitly clear that a given finding is from the field of psychology. By the end of the semester, they start to see psychological science everywhere — from sports stories to breaking international news.

Similarly, early in the semester, students have difficulty working through the four-part framework. But, just as many of them become skilled at noticing when psychological science is at play, many of them also become skilled at thinking critically about research. They learn to ask the right questions and to seek out appropriate answers for these questions — the mark of a budding psychological scientist.

By Susan A. Nolan, PhD, and Sandra E. Hockenbury, MA


Interested in Education? Read our collection of articles on Education curated specially for APA members and affiliates.

Did you find this post useful?

0 0