Message from the Psychology Chair

Michael KneppWelcome to the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Human Development. Our department has three distinct majors to help prepare students for their chosen career, including graduate and professional training. The psychology major covers the breadth of the field. Students in psychology take courses across developmental/social, biological/experiment, and applied psychology areas. Neuroscience students take course work focused on the biological bases of behavior and brain function. They also take basic and applied science research course electives. Students interested in human development and family science take introductory courses in both psychology and sociology followed by courses distributed across three areas: Human Development; Family Development; and Society/Culture.

All three of our department majors put a strong emphasis on understanding how to conduct research in the field. Sophomores and juniors take a research methods sequence that exposes them to the types of studies and work that is done in the field as well as how to prepare their own work. In the year-long senior research sequence, students work in teams to design and write a research proposal during the fall semester. In the spring, the groups run their own study, collecting data and analyzing the results for a final writeup under the supervision of a faculty member. These hands-on research experiences give students the practical skills utilized in graduate work and in the research laboratories of the field.

There are many applied experiences in the program. Students interested in the clinical side of the field get practice learning about phobia treatment during the face your fear project in abnormal psychology. In the therapy-based courses in the psychology and human development and family science majors, students also take part in live-action role plays. In the Movies and Madness course, students work on mental health advocacy projects. In the neuroscience courses, students participate in physiology labs and read scientific articles from the field while students learn to train dogs in our behaviorism coursework.

Outside of the classroom, students participate in independent study research projects with faculty members. Two such labs, the Canine Cognition Laboratory and Physiological and Neuropsychological Laboratory involve students in various levels of faculty-driven data collection, scoring, and analysis. Laboratory students further participate in the creation of conference publications with their faculty mentors. The department possesses a robust internship program and works with the Spectrum Education Center. Recently, students have participated in Spectrum’s peer mentorship program working with local children with spectrum disorders. The program is also an official chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in psychology and has an active Psychology Club.

Faculty members in the department share a wealth of interests and expertise. These include:

  • Social psychology
  • Mental health advocacy
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Neuroscience
  • Cultural health psychology
  • Behaviorism
  • Educational psychology
  • Family and marriage therapy
  • The psychology of humor
  • Counseling psychology

On behalf of the department, I hope you will consider majoring in one of our three programs. Regardless of your selection, you will be provided with a rich, varied set of coursework and experiences that will challenge you academically and prepare you for the real world.

Michael Knepp, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Human Development

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