Classes and Advising
Information about the Psychology Minor *
Information about the Psychology Minor
Minor in Psychology: (18 semester hours)
The minor in psychology is designed for students of any major and is tailored to the specific educational goals for each student. After taking PSY100, the student will choose 15 additional hours of PSY courses in consultation with the Department of Psychology's minor advisor. *NOTE: At least 50% of psychology minor courses must be completed at WCU.
Psychology Senior Seminar (PSY400) - Class Descriptions
Hill, Erin: Digital Minimalism, Health and Well-Being
The Senior Seminar titled "Digital Minimalism, Health, and Well-being" will involve a critical analysis of how we use personal technology and its impact on our health and well-being. Digital Minimalism is not necessarily about removing technology from one's life, but rather, it is about becoming intentional and conscious of the ways technology can support individual values and goals - rather than having our behaviors governed by technology. The topic for this senior seminar was developed based on the book "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World" written by author Cal Newport. In this senior seminar, we will read Newport's book alongside peer-reviewed articles focused on the role of technology use (e.g., social media, cell-phone use, or screen time in general) in our physical and mental well-being. The seminar is discussion-based and hybrid in format, and will involve in-class and online discussions based on the Newport chapter readings and the peer-reviewed articles. Students will engage in reflections on the application of the readings/discussions in their personal and professional lives. The course will also involve regular critical analysis of research in this area of psychology. Students will also work over the course of the semester in putting together their own research proposal focused on an aspect of digital minimalism in health and well-being.
Mahlstedt, Deborah: Psychology of Social Change
The psychology of social change is a relatively new way of organizing existing psychological theory because it places greater emphasis for behavior change on the group and societal level, in addition to the individual level, a more common focus in the study of psychology. PSY 100 texts commonly include “to improve the human condition” as one of the goals of the discipline of psychology or the study of human behavior. And while this goal is embedded in much of what you learn in your psychology classes, it is usually applied to change on the individual level. It is not however, usually applied to the group and societal level, which in this course I refer to as social change. Traditional psychology often leaves this to sociologists. Traditional sociologists, on the other hand, tend to focus on change as it occurs on the group, societal/social structural level and cultural levels with less emphasis on the individual level. In this course we will use both classic and newer psychological theories and research (persuasion, attribution, social dominance theory) as well as more recent developments in prevention science, intersectionality theory, minority influence theory, activism research, feminist psychology, and political psychology to identify the change processes that link individual, group, organizational change with social (or societal) change. The emphasis will be on the translation and application of these ideas to analyze social issues and develop strategies to end social injustice.
We will apply these psychological ideas: to understand the underlying dynamics perpetuating a particular social injustice and then explore strategies to effect social change in this area of injustice. Some of the social issues we may examine in the course include: unequal access to a quality K-12 public education, the rising costs of public higher education and the unprecedented student debt crisis, sexual violence prevention, mass incarceration of people of color, end-of-life issues, the right to a livable wage, the oppression of transgender people, and the current invisibility of people affected by HIV and AIDS. Students will have the opportunity to choose a social injustice and/or area of psychological theory/research for their research paper and student co-facilitated structured discussion.
As a capstone course the senior seminar course also focuses on your development as a professional. What does it mean to be an effective, responsible, and ethical professional? Here our focus will be not only on the more familiar skills of writing and well-designed peer-reviewed research but also on other less visible, yet critical dimensions of professional development such as self-awareness and reflection, decision-making, ethics, working with groups, values clarification, and advocacy work.
McKibben, Jodi: Patterns and Course of Psychological Disorders
"Protecting health, saving lives - millions at a time." This is the mission statement of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. It is also an apt description of our subject matter for this senior seminar - patterns and course of psychological disorders (also known as psychiatric epidemiology). Specifically, we will examin the methodologies used to understand the causes, prevalence, course, and consequences of various mental disorders. In so doing, we will consider the risk and protective factors at the individual, environmental, and global levels and over time. This knowledge can then serve to develop effective intervention strategies including prevention programs.
How do we distringuish between the ongoing rates of PTSD in Army soldiers versus the rate of the onset of new cases? What is the typical course of schizophrenia amongst those with early onset? Is diabetes risk factor for the development of major depressive disorder? Can Prevention programs be designed and implemented that will reduce the current rates of suicide among adolescents with suicidal ideation? These are the sorts of questions we will learn how to tackle as we explore the ever-changing landscape of psychiatric epidemiology.
Through this course, you will gain an understanding of the examination of mental disorders from a more global perspective. This understanding will be assessed through multiple assessment techniques including written and oral presentations.
Mitchell, Karen: Fake News: Processes and Problems (Spring Only)
Fake news, the term is used to refer to everything from satirical sources like the Onion to objectively factual news reports in legitimate sources that people don't care for and want to delegitimize. In this course we will discuss how individuals assess the legitimacy (validity) and veracity (truth or accuracy) of news reports, why they make mistakes, and what can be done to improve our ability to accurately assess the news. We will extend our consideration to other areas, such as "fake science." We will also consider the news media as an important institution for monitoring the activities of other institutions that act in the public interest, such as the government, the courts, and science, which in turn monitor the veracity of what is reported in the news and the appropriateness of how reporting gets done. We will discuss how such institutional monitoring provides checks and balances designed to maintain the integrity of, and public trust in, institutions, as well as examples of how these checks and balances break down. We will consider these topics primarily from a cognitive psychology viewpoint, especially the theoretical perspective of the Source Monitoring Framework, but we will consider other views (e.g., legal, ethical), as well.
Consistent with the style of a seminar, the format primarily involves discussion of articles from scientific journals and other sources, though we will also watch videos and do exercises and demonstrations. Consistent with the requirements of all PSY400 seminars, students will prepare both written and oral presentations. Although this seminar focuses primarily on cognitive theories and methods, you should be able to do well in the course without having had PSY475 (Cognitive Psychology).
Rundus, Aaron: Comparative Sensation & Perception
Imagine what life would be like if you did not have the ability to see, smell, taste, touch, or hear. How would you survive without the ability to sense the world around you? It quickly becomes obvious that the processes of sensation and perception are vitally important with regard to our ability to function in the world around us. In this course we take an in-depth look at some of the sensory and perceptual processes found within the animal kingdom. This course will emphasize a comparative approach by highlighting, when possible, the similarities and differences in sensory and perceptual processes in humans and non-human animals. Furthermore, in this course we will focus on two major categories of empirical questions 1) ‘How’ questions dealing with the mechanisms through which organisms obtain and process information about the world around them and 2) ‘Why’ questions using an evolutionary approach to understand the function of these two processes in the behavior and survival of organisms. This course is organized in a seminar format, affording us the opportunity to survey current research in the field of sensation and perception through the discussion of peer-reviewed literature.
Shivde, Geeta: Neuroscience of Cognition and Emotion
We will explore how various neuroimaging methods and the study of patients with brain injury have informed our understanding of psychology from consciousness and cognition to social and emotional behavior and clinical disorders. We will learn about these different methodologies and the kind of data they produce, as well as discussing the promise and limitations of interpreting this data. You will be reading and discussing primary literature in the field, and will develop your own ideas about how cognitive and affective neuroscience methods can be applied to your individual topic of interest. Understanding how to read and think about research using these neuroscience methods should give you the ability to continue to follow developments in this quickly moving field as they apply to your chosen career, your personal development, and public policy.
Tahmaseb-McConatha, Jasmin: Culture and Psychology
Who we are and how we understand the world is shaped by the culture in which we live. This senior seminar addresses the intersecting influences of culture, society, and community on well-being across adulthood. The seminar focuses on an exploration of contemporary and socio-historical factors that have influenced our understanding of ourselves, our relationships, our sources of meaning, and our health and happiness. We will explore theoretical developments and methodological strengths and limitations in the field of cultural psychology. We discuss fundamental similarities and differences in models of the self, the structure of relationships and support, sources of meaning, emotional management, and well-being. We examine a series of topics on how culture and psychology interrelate in our increasingly globalized world. By taking this course students will be able to: 1. Become more informed about current theories and methods in cultural psychology. 2. Able to critically assess psychological theories with respect to their appropriateness and relevance across particular cultural groupings. 3. Prepared for further advanced study in cultural psychology, adult developed, and/or social-personality psychology. 4. Increase their sense of cultural competence by understanding how cultural patterns influence their own daily lives in a globalizing world. 6. Gain experience preparing a written and oral presentation on a chosen topic relating to the goals of the class.
Field Experience Information
Peer Mentoring Program
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Vipanchi Mishra and Dr. Karen Mitchell
The Psychology Peer Mentoring Program pairs incoming first-year Psychology majors with Jr/Sr Psychology majors. The program was developed to help incoming students cope with the transition to college by providing support and guidance from current Psychology majors. New students and mentors will engage in a variety of department sponsored activities throughout the upcoming year to enrich the college experience. Look for opportunities to sign up at the beginning of each Fall semester.
Psi Chi (Psychology Honor Society)
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Deanne Zotter and Dr. Karen Mitchell
The Department of Psychology sponsors a chapter of this international honor society. Membership is by invitation, with scholarship as the major criterion. Psi Chi, an affiliate of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science endeavors to advance the science of psychology and encourages superior scholarship in all academic fields, particularly in psychology.
Faculty Advisor: Dr.Ellie Brown
The purpose of this club is to provide experiences for students that enhance classroom instruction. Programs include presentation of current research by the Department of Psychology's faculty and students as well as guest speakers. Other programs provide information on graduate education and career opportunities in psychology and related fields. Members are also provided with opportunities for informal interchange with faculty, invited scholars, and others. Interested students may join by contacting club officers or the faculty adviser.
Student Life Committee
Student Life Committee
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Rebecca Chancellor, Dr. Ekeoma Uzogara, Dr. Jasmin Tahmaseb McConatha & Dr. Debbie Mahlstedt
This committee gives students opportunities to interact with faculty for socializing with other students and faculty, organizing psychology-related informational sessions, and giving input on departmental matters such as hiring. The Committee also sponsors the annual Psychology Awards Ceremony each Spring.
Student Research Day
Sponsored by the Psi Chi
Each Spring, undergraduate and graduate psychology students have an opportunity to talk about their research activities with other students and members of the University, display posters in the Psychology Department, and give selected demonstrations of laboratory activities.
Winter Break Student Volunteer Opportunities
The holiday season is just around the corner. Get out of the cold and spend your winter break doing good on a volunteer adventure that makes a difference. Experience the true meaning of "it is better to give then receive" by joining one of GoEco's volunteer projects. We have selected some great projects that will take your winter break from ho-hum to life-changing!
Internships and Scholarships
- WCU's Internships Website
- WCU's Career Development Center
- Making The Difference
- AC Online: Accredited College Search Tool
- APA's 2015 Summer Science Fellowship
- Girls Incorporated of Greater Philadelphia & Southern Jersey | GI Fact Sheet
- Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center - REU Programs | Application
- Commonwealth of PA Summer 2015 Internship Programs
Psychology Undergraduate Merit Scholarship
The West Chester University Psychology Department invites applications for the Psychology Undergraduate Merit Scholarship. The scholarship is a $500 award created for the junior-level Psychology major who excels academically.
Application Requirements: Applications are due to the Psychology department (submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org) each fall semester. Eligibility is limited to junior-level Psychology majors who meet specific course completion and GPA requirements (see application for specifics). Application materials include the application form (see attached document), a CV or resume listing academic and extra-curricular achievements, and a 250-word essay describing why you are applying for the scholarship. In addition, one letter of recommendation from a Psychology department faculty member must be forwarded to the scholarship committee.
Deadline for applications to be received is November 2, 2015.
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- Preparing for Graduate School Guide
- Teaching of Psychology (Psychology Journals)
- Dr. Ellen E. Pastorino - Myths and realities of majoring in Psychology - Part 1 | Part 2
- New Realities at Work for College Graduates (article in the National Career Development Association newsletter)
- Psychology Career Information (Psychology Degree 411)
- Learn Psychology
- Careers in Counseling Psychology
How to Avoid the Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process
How to Avoid the Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process
- Avoid references to your mental health. Such statements could create the impression you may be unable to function as a successful graduate student.
- Avoid making excessively altruistic statements. Graduate faculty could interpret these statements to mean you believe a strong need to help others is more important to your success in graduate school than a desire to perform research and engage in other academic and professional activities.
- Avoid providing excessively self-revealing information. Faculty may interpret such information as a sign you are unaware of the value of interpersonal or professional boundaries in sensitive areas.
- Avoid inappropriate humor, attempts to appear cute or clever, and references to God or religious issues when these issues are unrelated to the program to which you are applying. Admissions committee members may interpret this type of information to mean you lack awareness of the formal nature of the application process or the culture of graduate school.
Letters of recommendation
- Avoid letters of recommendation from people who do not know you well, whose portrayals of your characteristics may not objective (e.g., a relative), or who are unable to base their descriptions in an academic context (e.g., your minister). Letters from these authors can give the impression you are unable or unwilling to solicit letters from individuals whose depictions are accurate, objective, or professionally relevant.
- Avoid letter of recommendation authors who will provide unflattering descriptions of your personal or academic characteristics. These descriptions provide a clear warning that you are not suited for graduate study. Choose your letter of recommendation authors carefully. Do not simply ask potential authors if they are willing to write you a letter of recommendation; ask them if they are able to write you a strong letter of recommendation. This question will allow them to decline your request diplomatically if they believe their letter may be more harmful than helpful.
Lack of information about the program
- Avoid statements that reflect a generic approach to the application process or an unfamiliarity with the program to which you are applying. These statements signal you have not made an honest effort to learn about the program from which you are saying you want to earn your graduate degree.
- Avoid statements that indicate you and the target program are a perfect fit if these statements are not corroborated with specific evidence that supports your assertion (e.g., your research interests are similar to those of the program’s faculty). Graduate faculty can interpret a lack of this evidence as a sign that you and the program to which you are applying are not a good match.
Poor writing skills
- Avoid any type of spelling or grammatical errors in your application. These errors are an unmistakable warning of substandard writing skills, a refusal to proofread your work, or willingness to submit careless written work.
- Avoid writing in an unclear, disorganized, or unconvincing manner that does not provide your readers with a coherent picture of your research, educational, and professional goals. A crucial part of your graduate training will be writing; do not communicate your inability to write to those you hope will be evaluating your writing in the future.
Misfired attempts to impress
- Avoid attempts to impress the members of a graduate admissions committee with information they may interpret as insincere flattery (e.g., referring to the target program in an excessively complimentary manner) or inappropriate (e.g., name dropping or blaming others for poor academic performance). Graduate admissions committees are composed of intelligent people; do not use your application as an opportunity to insult their intelligence.
Taken from Table 1 of:
Appleby, D. C., & Appleby, K. M. (2006). Kisses of death in the graduate school application process. Teaching of Psychology, 33(6), 19-24.
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More Info Coming Soon!! (e.g., Information on getting into graduate school and careers in Psychology)
Advising and Scheduling Classes
What is the "Enrollment Appointment" that appears on my MyWCU page? Is that an appointment with my academic advisor?
No, it is not an appointment with your advisor. It is the first day/hour that you are permitted to register for course for the next semester. You should see your advisor before this day/time so that you can plan out a schedule and so that your advisor can “unlock” your account.
How can I find out who my academic advisor is?
Your academic advisor (and his/her phone number) is listed on your MyWCU page (on the right side of the page).
How can I find out when my advisor has office hours?
You may contact them directly (via phone, as listed on your MyWCU page, or via e-mail). A list of all Psychology faculty is also available outside the Psychology Department Office (PB 02). The list includes the names of all department faculty, their office locations, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, and a list of their office hours for the current semester.
Why is there an advisor hold on my account? I can't register for courses with this hold.
Because students are required to be in contact with their advisors before they attempt to schedule courses. Your advisor will have to “unlock” your account after you've spoken to them regarding your scheduling plans, etc.
Why is there an advisor hold on my account for the semester I am graduating?
The advisor hold is an automatic process. It does not distinguish between graduating and non-graduating students. In addition, if you have financial aid, you are required to complete an exit interview.
My advisor unlocked my access to scheduling but I still can't enroll in classes. Why?
You may have a hold on your account. Holds can be placed on accounts by the Registrar's Office for a number of reasons. For example, if you have an outstanding bill at the Student Health and Wellness Center or you have not returned an overdue library book or you have unpaid parking tickets, your access to scheduling will be blocked. You should contact the Bursar's Office to pay an outstanding obligations.
What's the difference between dropping a course and withdrawing from a course?
Please read about dropping and withdrawing courses in the Undergraduate Catalog
Grades, GPA, Course Repeats
- How do I calculate my GPA (cumulative or major)?
- How do I appeal a grade?
- My GPA is below 2.0 and I received a letter indicating that I am on academic probation. What should I do now?
- What is the university policy with respect to plagiarism and academic dishonesty? What are the penalties and what should I do if I am accused of cheating by a professor?
- Is there a limit on the number of courses I can repeat?
- If I repeat a course, how are both grades counted?
- Can I repeat a course at another university?
- What courses can I take pass/fail?
- I heard that if I have an A in a course, I don't have to take the final exam. Is this true?
- How do I make the dean's list?
Why do I have to take a foreign language and how many courses do I have to take?
The foreign language requirement is a degree requirement. That is, a foreign language is required for all Bachelor of Arts students. There are multiple ways to meet the foreign language requirement for Psychology majors. One way is to pass any language course at the 202 level. If you were to begin studying a language at the Introductory (101) level, this would involve taking 4 courses: 101, 102, 201, and 202. Four courses are not absolutely necessary, however. If you have a strong enough language background to skip some of the earlier courses (e.g., 101 and/or 102), you may do so. You just need to pass the 202 level. The other possibility is to pass any language at the 102 level (taking 101 and 102 or just 102) and then take culture cluster courses. You must take culture cluster courses that are consistent with the language you studied (i.e., Spanish culture clusters, French culture clusters, German culture clusters, etc.). If your last language course is at the 102 level (the minimum required), you must take 3 culture cluster courses. If you complete/pass a language course at the 201 level, you may take 2 culture cluster courses instead of the 202 language course.
I took a Math statistics course. Do I still have to take a Psychology statistics course?
That depends. If you have a math course (other than statistics) that can meet the General Education requirement (i.e., MAT 103 or higher) in addition to the MAT 121 (Statistics) course, then you may, with permission, use the MAT 121 course toward the Psychology statistics requirement. However, if you do so you will have to take an extra Psy elective as 48 Psychology credits are required for the Psychology degree. If the statistics course (MAT 121) is the only Math course you've completed, it cannot count toward both your General Education math requirement and the Psychology statistics requirement. You need to either take the Psychology statistics course (Psy 245) or you need to take another math course to meet your General Education requirement. If you choose to take another math course, you will still need to take an additional Psychology elective (as 48 Psychology credits are required for the Psychology degree).
- What do I have to do to prepare for graduation? How do I apply for graduation?
- I have completed all of my specific degree requirements. Why can't I graduate?
- Because you have not completed 120 credits (the minimum number of credits required for graduation from any PA state university).
- I have completed 120 credits. Why can't I graduate?
- Because you have not completed all of your specific requirements (see the advising sheet for specific requirements).
- What GPA is required to receive graduation honors?
Can I take courses at another university and transfer the credit? How many credits can I transfer?
I took a diversity/writing emphasis/interdisciplinary course at my previous university and the course transferred in to WCU. Why do I have to take another? Why are some courses recognized as interdisciplinary courses?
Diverse Community (J) and Writing Emphasis (W) designations do not transfer in to WCU. There is no way for WCU to know if the courses at another university actually meet all of the criteria required for those designations at WCU. The same is sometimes true for Interdisciplinary (I) courses. That is, some transfer courses are given “199” credit instead of the standard course credit because the appropriate standard course is an interdisciplinary course at WCU (and if credit for the standard course is given, the interdisciplinary , “I”, designation would automatically apply). This happens if WCU is unable to determine if the course being transferred in actually meets all of the criteria for an “I” designation. If a course transfers in, however, as a course that is a recognized interdisciplinary (I) course at WCU, the “I” designation does apply.
If you believe that one of your transfer courses should earn the “J”, “W”, or “I” designations, you may petition the university for it. Please see your advisor of the department chairperson or assistant chairperson for assistance with this process.
Links to Organizations
- American Group Psychotherapy Association
- American Psychological Association
- American Society of Group Psychotherapy & Psychodrama
- Association for Psychological Science (APS)
- Eastern Psychological Association (EPA)
- Pennsylvania Psychological Association
- Philadelphia Behavioral Therapy Association
- Psychology Job & Internship Opportunities
- WCU Student Organizations
- WCU Ethnic Studies Program