Twenty-one students and four professors from PUC’s department of psychology presented the conclusions from six research projects at the 92nd annual convention of the Western Psychological Association (WPA) in San Francisco, April 26-29.
In addition to presenting research, the convention offered students the opportunity to attend lectures by prominent psychologists, learn about recent research in the field, network with professionals from throughout the region and otherwise prepare themselves for careers in psychology.
Participating in and staying up to date on cutting-edge research is critical for students of psychology, explains Charlene Bainum, one of the PUC professors who was involved. The annual convention allows students to put everything they’ve learned from the field together, she says. Attendees at the convention present their independent research giving students a chance to learn about the most cutting-edge developments in the field. “You go from poster session to symposium to invited address,” Bainum adds. “They’re all talking about the latest thing that they’ve been doing.”
For PUC students, however, the WPA convention is not only an opportunity to interact with leading psychologists and hear about their latest research; it is an opportunity to make their own contributions to the field in a professional setting.
Presenting research at the convention is only possible for undergraduates thanks to the faculty’s support of student research, explains Danielle Hagood, a junior psychology major. “The professors do a lot to make us that successful to get there,” she says. “They definitely mentor us a lot and give us the opportunity to get so involved that we wouldn’t know how to do on our own... All of a sudden, you’re presenting and doing research without even realizing that you could do it.”
According to Bainum, participating in a convention like WPA is an excellent opportunity because it gives students a chance to showcase their research experience—an opportunity often not as easily accessible at larger colleges. A small school like PUC gives students a higher likelihood of having the option to work with professors to do actual research due to more personal class sizes, she explains. “There’s nothing, to us as faculty, more exciting than when we see students just light up and get really, really excited about psychology.”
Founded in 1921, the WPA is the professional organization for psychologists in the western region of the United States. Students and faculty from Pacific Union College have made the annual trip and presented research at the convention since 1990.