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Psychology Professors and Students Present at WPA

Elizabeth Rivera, April 18, 2008
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On April 10-13 in Irvine, California, thousands of people attended the Western Psychological Association’s 88th annual convention. Twenty-three of the attendees were from PUC. Twenty students and three teachers traveled to Southern California to take part in this annual convention where cutting-edge research is presented and world-renowned psychologists present lectures. It is an opportunity for students to be exposed to the professional world of psychology and allows them the opportunity to interact with professionals who have worked or are working in specialized fields of psychology, as well as make valuable academic and professional contacts.

But PUC students did not go simply to absorb information; they also shared their own research. Every year a few PUC students spend a great deal of the school year working closely with professors to develop professional papers to present at the convention. Paper topics emerge out of personal interests, labs or previous projects that have gone very well.

Students must submit proposals to the convention in November. Once accepted the real work begins. They must refine the work they’ve already done by doing further research and further developing their ideas. Students meet with a professor for at least an hour each week to work on this project, in addition to the work they do on their own.  This is not a class requirement. It is something that both students and professors take the time to do in addition to their regular class load. The payoff: scholarly work that any psychologist would be proud of.

This year PUC students presented five papers,  each co-authored with other students or professors, on a variety of topics. Andrew Webster, a sophomore psychology major,  and professor Aubyn Fulton authored a paper titled “Identity, Personality, and Sandwich Preferences.” In it they explore the relationship between ego identity status and personality traits as they play out in everyday choices, specifically sandwich preferences at a popular local sandwich shop.

Senior psychology majors Juliane Da Silva and Sarah Gary and professor Bruce Bainum co-authored “Humor, Violence, and Memory: Effects of Television Content on Recall,” which won awards from both WPA and Psi Chi, the national honors society in psychology.

Fulton, who has been working closely with several students to develop their papers, calls the process the highlight of his year. “I have always found the time I spend working on these projects with students to be among the most rewarding things I do as a teacher here. ... To see students blossom and grow and not just do the work, but also the communication of it in a professional way is very gratifying.”

PUC has long been known for producing academic excellence. Because PUC maintains its position as a college and is dedicated to its undergraduates, professors can invest more time in their students. This last weekend at the WPA convention, attendees saw the fruits of collaboration between students and professors and experienced first-hand the dynamic results of the one-on-one attention and instruction that PUC strives to provide each of its students.