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Psychology News

During my time here at Stevenson, I have had plenty of exceptional experiences. Outside of the psychology department, I have been an RA for three years serving our students in the Residence Halls on campus. From time to time, some students I oversee in the Residence Halls are psychology majors and I am able to connect with them further. In the psychology department, I have worn many "hats" over the years!

One of the roles I have is working with Dr. Metzger helping with research within his Cognition and Emotion group. Last year, this group researched how different factors, such as mindfulness or anxiety, affect our cognition every day. We met weekly to discuss the literature and potential projects. This culminated in the development of my senior research thesis (PSY 470) project where we analyzed the role of cell phone presence in cognition. A few weeks ago, I presented this senior research poster at SEPA: an undergraduate conference held in Jacksonville, Florida. There I was presented with Psi Chi's Regional Research Award during my poster session. Dr. Metzger, Danielle Gershman, and the other students who helped with my senior thesis were the best helpers and supporters. I am grateful to be part of a department with so much collaboration!

Hanne Wilburn

Hanne Wilburn won the Psi Chi Regional Research Award!!

Another role I have had in the psychology department is working as a Teaching Assistant and office assistant for Dr. Elliott. I have been the Teaching Assistant for psychology courses such as First Year Seminar, Behavioral Approaches to Change, and Research Methods & Data Analysis II. Being a Teaching Assistant has allowed me to meet and interact with a majority of the students in the department. I even had the experience of giving my own lecture on behavioral psychology! I enjoy knowing that I can play a role in helping students succeed in these important classes. Lastly, I work with Dr. Elliott as an office assistant, and mainly help with the maintenance of Stevenson's Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB ensures that the research being conducted at Stevenson is ethical and safe for everyone participating. Helping with the IRB has allowed me to learn so much about how to conduct good psychological research and help others to do that too. Attending Stevenson and working within the psychology department have afforded me so many unique experiences that I know will impact me for the rest of my life!

By: Hanne Wilburn (Psychology ’19)

As the department chair, Dr. Jeff Elliott has played major roles in developing a high-quality undergraduate psychology major, promoting student research, and supporting students’ professional development. He is definitely an integral part of our psychology department! I had a chance to interview Dr. Elliott to ask him more about his background and type of work that he does at Stevenson.

Dr. Elliott

Dr. Jeff Elliott

Dr. Elliott’s Background

Dr. Elliott received his Ph.D. in Human Services Psychology from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He has been involved in the field of mental health as he has provided counseling to men who were abusive to their romantic partners. Since 2001, he has been working at Stevenson University (Villa Julie College back then).

Dr. Elliott’s Work at Stevenson and Beyond

At Stevenson, Dr. Elliott has taught almost every course in our curriculum! His excellence in teaching has been recognized by the Rose Dawson Excellence in Teaching Award. Courses that he offers include First Year Seminar, Research Methods and Statistics II, and Behavioral Approaches to Change, and Senior Research Theses. He has developed courses such as PSY 201 Writing for Psychology and PSY 136 Statistics for Behavioral and Social Sciences to equip students with the foundation of skills to understand and communicate about research. In addition to his role as the department chair, Dr. Elliott is serving as the Chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Dr. Elliott is well-known for his support and advocacy for students, especially for those who are struggling. His passion and dedication in meeting students where they are and helping them succeed extends beyond our Stevenson community. For example, Dr. Elliott has been working as a Counselor/Program Evaluator for Upward Bound at Morgan State University for many years to support first generation, low income, and at-risk high school students. Through his intervention, these students have a higher chance of graduating high school and attending college.

Providing Opportunities for Students

One important contribution from Dr. Elliott is his commitment to promoting student research and providing student with opportunities to present their work at professional conferences, such as Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) and Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA). Dr. Elliott takes a good deal of time to identify funding sources and apply for grants to support our students’ traveling. He strongly believes that these efforts would provide opportunities for students to network, develop professionally, and ultimately become more competitive for graduate schools and professional careers.

Dr. Elliott provides strong support for student activities as he serves as a sponsor for Psychology Club. Students who work closely with Dr. Elliott as research assistants, student assistants, and teaching assistants all rave about him. Emma Lichtman (’19 Psychology) says that she really enjoys working for him and has learned so much by working on a variety of tasks. Hanne Wilburn (’19 Psychology) says: “Dr. Elliott is such a great professor. His door is always open to anyone who needs help. He truly cares about students not just learning, but understanding the important concepts they will need to be successful in the future!”

Thank you for all your dedication and hard work Dr. Elliott! We are lucky to have you as our chair!

By: Olivia Webb

For most students, the history of how the Psychology department came to be may be a mystery. To find out more, I interviewed Dr. Dyer Bilgrave to gather some details about what our department was like as it transitioned from Villa Jullie College (VJC) to Stevenson University in 2008. Among all the current faculty members, Dr. Bilgrave is the most knowledgeable about this piece of history since he has been teaching here for more than 30 years!

Dr. Bilgrave and Makaylah Morton 1

Dr. Bilgrave and Makaylah Morton

To my surprise, Psychology was not available as a major early on. According to Dr. Bilgrave, prior to 1995, VJC only offered about 8 psychology courses as a part of its general education curriculum. The college was unable to offer a Psychology major because the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) was concerned that it would merely be a replication of the programs offered at other colleges. Interestingly, MHEC later approved the Psychology program and the major “Liberal Arts and Technology-Computer Option- Psychology Focus” was created. The last student from this track graduated in 2002.

In 1997, MHEC finally gave VJC permission to develop a full fledge Psychology major! Dr. Bilgrave and Dr. Nancy Sherman designed a curriculum and Psychology became one of the majors being offered. In 2002, Dr. Bilgrave was appointed as the department chair for Psychology. He guided the department to create a curriculum with clear and well-articulated goals and objectives that aligned with the undergraduate Psychology standards created by the American Psychological Association (APA). The Psychology department leadership has also changed a few times over the years. It went from Dr. Bilgrave (2002-2005) to Dr. Michele Lewis (2005-2006), to Dr. Barbra Smith (2006-2010), and to Dr. Jeffrey Elliott (2010-present).

Fast forward to the present day, our department chair Dr. Elliott has worked extensively to update the curriculum to align with the APA guidelines. The department has flourished over the years and now consists of 6 full-time faculty members (each with a Ph.D.), 22 adjunct faculty, 187 majors, and 42 minors.

Although it has taken the Psychology department some time to make its debut, it offers not only a strong flexible curriculum, but many opportunities (e.g., research, field placement, internships) to help students achieve their goals and dreams. I am proud to be part of it.

SU Psychology

Students working in the Psychology Department area on a Monday morning. We have created a close-knit community!

By Makaylah Morton

Psychology professors regularly select students to serve as a Peer Teaching Assistant (PTA) in some of the courses that they teach, including PSY 136- Statistics for Behavioral and Social Science, PSY 201- Writing for Psychology, PSY 262- Social Psychology, PSY 261- Biological Psychology, and PSY 343- Research Methods-Data Analysis II.

What exactly does a PTA do? Although the duties of PTAs differ slightly for each course, it is relatively common for PTAs to attend every class, take attendance, hold office hours, lecture or lead discussion, and perform office duties such as print, copy, and send emails. In addition, PTAs may also be available to serve as tutors to ensure students are staying up to date with their assignments and preparing well for exams.

What can students gain by serving as a PTA? Being a PTA allows students to build working relationships with their Psychology professors, which is especially important if students are planning to attend graduate school. For a lot of graduate programs, having teaching experiences will enhance your chance of getting in.

Alicia Hughart, Senior Psychology Major and Active Minds president, took part in being a PTA for PSY 262- Social Psychology where she worked inside and outside of the classroom. Alicia utilized being a PTA for field placement credit, in which she worked alongside Dr. Schurtz to create conceptual exams, review students’ papers, and even conduct lectures. Due to her completing this assistantship for field placement credit, she is required to create a poster presentation that she will present in May. Completing this poster and presenting it provides students with professional presentation experiences that they can add to their CVs!

Alicia and Dr Schurtz

Alicia Hughart and Dr. Schurtz

For me as a Junior Psychology major, I am currently completing a teaching assistantship alongside with Dr. Wong for PSY 201- Writing in Psychology. My duties consist of facilitating class discussions, reading student’s papers, working with students inside and outside of the classroom to ensure they are understanding empirical articles, and completing various office tasks. During my time as a PTA through field placement credit, my relationship with Dr. Wong has strengthened, I was able to achieve my personal goals, and I truly believe I gained essential interpersonal skills I can utilize as I continue my undergraduate degree.

Makaylah and Dr Wong

Makaylah Morton and Dr. Wong

In sum, if you are completing a course that currently has a PTA and you are interested in becoming one, talk to your professor and inquire about the duties expected. Ensuring you are working hard in your course, receiving a good grade, and participating in class discussion is a great way to set yourself apart to be offered such position!

By: Makaylah Morton

Active Minds is one of our nation’s premier nonprofit organizations that supports mental health awareness and education for students. Here at our Stevenson chapter, we are dedicated to changing the conversation and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. This includes, but is not limited to, types of mental illnesses, histories of an individual that can lead to a change in mental health, and treatments. We as a club are devoted to saving lives and building a strong and impactful community to create a lasting change in how mental health is viewed. We believe that this can be done through education, research, and advocacy for those who need that support. We host a wide range of events throughout the semester to promote these concepts. Events include mental health tables and stress-less weeks, which are dedicated to decreasing stress and anxiety around midterms and finals week.

Active minds 1

2018-2019 Active Minds Officers and Members

As described on the Active Minds website: “We believe no one should have to struggle alone. By empowering students to speak openly about mental health, we can reduce stigma, encourage help seeking, and prevent suicides”. Through Active Minds, we hope to open people’s minds and hearts to issues related to mental health.

Active minds 2

Nya Medley (left) and Active Minds President Alicia Hughart (right)

By: Alicia Hughart

 
 
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