Undergraduate Program in Psychology
Psychology, in a broad sense, is the study of human behavior. Clark's Psychology Department is one of the largest at the University, and one of the best known nationally. The program has a rich, diverse list of offerings in such areas of study as learning, sensation, perception, development, personality, social, and evolutionary psychology, and has had notable success in preparing its graduates for professional careers.
Clark is both a small college and a research university. As part of a research university, the faculty is dedicated to gathering and distributing new knowledge. Clark provides opportunities for undergraduates to join in research related activities. The department has a unique listing of undergraduate research courses in which qualified undergraduates work closely with faculty and graduate students on collaborative research projects that are often presented at national and international scientific conferences. Our honors program makes it possible for motivated students to finish their undergraduate degree with a research thesis, many of which have been published.
We offer career-relevant seminars, laboratories, and research courses-intensive, small courses normally taken in the junior and senior years. Through these courses, students have the opportunity to participate in discussions of the research and theoretical issues linked to the faculty's diverse research interests. To prepare first- and second-year students for these advanced courses, we offer basic skills courses that reach the essential methods every psychologist needs to know. Students can also supplement the department's program by taking advantage of related courses offered through Clark's Hiatt Center for Urban Education or the concentration in Peace Studies. Psychology majors are also encouraged to take advantage of Clark's Study Abroad Program.
According to a recent study, Clark ranks third among comparable institutions in the number of Ph.D.s earned by our B.A. graduates. The reason is clear enough: our undergraduate program is designed to involve all of our majors in inquiry and scholarship as early and as deeply as possible. Whether a student ultimately earns a Ph.D., or goes on with a career in some other profession, an ability to understand how to collect and interpret data about human behavior will be one of the most important skills a student can have.
In our undergraduate program, all students participate in inquiry-based projects as part of the major. The majority of our majors complete a project worthy of a presentation at Academic Spree Day. Academic Spree Day is an annual event in which Clark undergraduates from all disciplines may present their scholarly work. Each year Psychology majors make up approximately half of those presenting.
In addition to the required course work, many students also participate in research project groups. All faculty have research groups, involving undergraduate students and graduate students. These are characteristically organized so graduate students provide much of the day to day leadership of teams of undergraduates working on a common research project, with one or more faculty members providing overall supervision and guidance. These projects routinely result in publications in professional journals. In sum, for a Clark undergraduate, learning to function as a member of a research team is an ordinary, required part of the curriculum. More information .
The Undergraduate Psychology Committee is a very active part of Department life. The UPC sponsors a number of activities throughout the year, a member attends all Department meetings, and the UPC has collected, and updates regularly, information on more than 150 graduate programs. For more information on the UPC and its activities, please visit its web page.
If you would like to contact one of our undergraduate majors, please e-mail the chair of the department, Marianne Wiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2012 LEEP Project Pioneers: Psychology Majors
Olivia McGill '13 is researching techniques for combating the fourth-grade slump (test scores leveling off in fourth grade among low-income students). A number of concepts will be incorporated into lesson plans for a literacy intervention, stemming from various fields both within and outside of psychology. The main goals for the intervention include engaging the students through small discussion groups, using specific language shown to improve intrinsic motivation, preparing students for making meaning of novel words (i.e. fourth-grade level decontextualized text rather than narrative text), and working with certain grammatical constructions found in later textbooks. Part of her project will draw from her summer experience, which focused on engaging students in educational activities during the summer months.
Kulani Panapitiya Dias '13 (double major with English) set out to investigate the prevalence of the psychological processes of moral disengagement, ingroup glorification and essentialism in post-war Sri Lanka by focusing on narratives of trauma. Following a study she conducted in December 2011 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Kulani interviewed and surveyed both Tamil and Sinhalese individuals in the war-afflicted areas of Jaffna and Galle, respectively. Her study examines how individuals cognitively disengage themselves from the injustices that their ingroup may commit, and the means by which one justifies and sanitizes atrocities that occur during conflicts. This research is geared toward aiding reconciliatory efforts in post-war Sri Lanka by helping to identify the obstacles that linguistically, and socially, propagate conflict and difference between groups. Read Kulani's blog. Watch an interview with Kulani.
Alisa Zeliger '13 (double major with French) spent the fall continuing a series of literacy education studies that have been conducted by Clark's Psychology Department. This study focuses on teaching novel words to young students (first grade) via various methods of interaction (pictures, games, objects). The overall goal of the study is to understand the learning processes behind vocabulary acquisition in children and to contribute insight on successful pedagogical methods.