CPI Team- April 2016
CPI Team- April 2016

Center for Psychological Inquiry

CPI's Goal

"Our goal is to be a haven of resources for psychology undergraduates.” 

Like many students, senior Grace Clements is aware of the many options facing psychology majors. Thinking back to what she had learned from a reference book she read, Clements emphasized, “There’s not a linear path for what you’re going to do with the rest of your life.”

As a student associate in Miami University’s Center for Psychological Inquiry (CPI), Clements helps fellow psychology majors navigate the many paths through the major and beyond their time at Miami. The CPI was launched by Dr. Amanda Diekman and Dr. Christopher Wolfe during the winter and spring semesters of 2011 as a part of a broad initiative to increase engaged learning in psychology, and is currently directed by Dr. Peter Wessels.

“One of our goals is to really help students connect with ways to engage with psychology both in and outside of the classroom,” said Diekman. Graduate coordinator Lauren Forrest agrees. “Our goal is to be a haven of resources for psychology undergraduates,” explained Forrest.

“One of the graduate students who is part of the founding team…was really interested in career development for undergraduates and having people think through: ‘What is my career path and what do I want to do and how do I get there from here?’” explained Diekman.

Located on the first floor of the psychology building and staffed chiefly by eight to ten undergraduate associates, the CPI serves as a first stop for students with any psychology-related questions. Open every weekday, the center creates a central location for the university’s approximately 800 psychology majors in Oxford to ask questions and learn where to find any resources they seek. Its drop-in hours make the center a unique and convenient option for busy undergrads. The CPI also houses resources like computers with statistics software, extra calculators, psychology, GRE, and graduate reference books, and informational pamphlets and materials which students can access whenever the center is open.

The CPI is staffed at all times by at least one undergraduate associate many of whom have training experience mentoring other students as discussion leaders in PSY 111. The psychology librarian, Eli Sullivan, and staff members of the Howe Writing Center hold weekly hours there as well to aid with research projects and papers. The CPI’s four specializations include peer advising, career and graduate school advising, undergraduate internships, and tutoring and homework help. CPI associates each have one or more areas of specialization, but all CPI staff members are prepared to answer questions on any specialization area and to redirect students to the appropriate faculty and staff members or resources when necessary.

“In some ways we’re a clearinghouse for information,” co-director Diekman said. “We may be able to direct a student to another entity on campus, so if they have a lot of Miami Plan questions, we’ll direct them to CAS advising...or if there’s something that career services does really well we’ll direct them that way… But because we’re a really big major, we wanted to have a place in-house where people could be aware of the different opportunities that are on campus.”

CPI staff members select an area to research so that students can seek out their CPI hours if they so choose. Peer advisors familiarize themselves with course registration, psychology major requirements, and thematic sequences. Career and graduate school advisors discuss career options as well as graduate school and the admissions process. Internship advisors provide information on how to find undergraduate internships, including sites that have been previously approved. Finally, tutors provide guidance on homework on statistics problems, research methods, Qualtrics, SPSS, and more, giving students an additional option to TA and professors’ office hours.

Senior Morgan Cody compiled a list of research opportunities such as the Undergraduate Research Award and the Summer Scholars program including the contact information of past participants. They are working to create an updated profile of research labs and their assistants. Cody has also brushed up on statistics to better prepare to better address incoming students’ needs.

Senior Grace Clements, a career and graduate school specialist, read and pooled a variety of online and text resources, and located a graduate school application checklist to prepare herself for her role.

Students most often drop in with questions on their sequence of research method and statistics courses. Though challenging, the courses teach the students quantitative literacy and help them to learn to write in a scientific way, critical to any research study or data analysis. However, every research session is unique depending on the student.
“The typicality of it is that there’s always going to be someone in here and we’ll always be able to answer whatever kind of question they might have,” explained Clements.
The CPI staff members and Forrest helped to coordinate, advertise, and develop questions for the three-part “Getting into Grad School” workshop series they held for psychology majors in fall 2015. The workshops centered on the graduate admissions process, research graduate schools and writing personal statements. Former students and faculty members gave advice and answered questions regarding their graduate application searches, applications, and decisions.

The CPI teamed up with COMPASS, the undergraduate journal in psychology; Psi Chi; and Career Services to present the Discover Psychology Fair in spring 2016. The fair included professors, graduate students, and a few prospective employers. The fair also featured a lab open house, an event which began in fall 2014 in which various labs invite students to visit and speak with lab directors and graduate students about the lab’s work. This allows students to figure out which research opportunities they would like to pursue.

Getting an early start on conducting research and graduate school applications were the biggest pieces of advice the CPI associates had to offer.

“I know that can be challenging, because I started looking for a lab my sophomore year and I didn’t get into anything until my junior year,” Clements acknowledged. “Get your hands wet…There are no bad choices, as long as you take them as learning experiences.”

Diekman said that one of the best parts of working with the CPI is collaborating with so many caring and motivated students. “Every year I ask them, ‘what could we do that we aren’t doing? What are the needs of the major that aren’t on our radar?’…and one of my goals always is to think through what are community events or displays that we could do to engage students in psychology in a different way.”

The CPI has been successful in helping a good number of students so far, according to Diekman who has reviewed its attendance numbers. Forrest and Clements were both pleased with the center’s work and hope to see the number of students who utilize it and attend its programming continue to grow. Once students begin to use the center, Diekman explained, they often become regulars, realizing that it is a resource they can use for a multitude of areas from getting a paper checked over to finding information on research advisors that match their interests.

CPI's Goal

"Our goal is to be a haven of resources for psychology undergraduates.” 
  • Psychology Building
    Psychology Building

    Department of Psychology

    The Department of Psychology blends a foundation in the major areas of psychology with other disciplines in the liberal arts to give you a broad range of skills, knowledge, and experiences. In our department, there are many opportunities to get involved with research, teaching, and community service. Both a BA and PhD are offered.

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