By Colleen Glenn, Sarah Geegan
This past fall, the Department of Psychology launched the Psychology Honors Program as a way to give students "the best of both worlds" — state-of-the-art research opportunities that large universities offer, as well as a feeling of community that smaller classes provide. So far, the program has demonstrated success.
Robert Lorch, chair of the Department of Psychology, and other faculty members in the department developed the Psychology Honors Program to provide incoming freshmen with smaller class sizes, more research opportunities and a built-in support network.
Students in the honors program take their core psychology courses as a cohort during their first two years at UK. The smaller, more intensive sections of the standard required classes allow for increased interaction with faculty and peers.
The honors program also encourages students to get involved in research projects with faculty members earlier in their academic careers. While all psychology students have the opportunity to participate in a research project, the honors program will encourage students to take on research responsibilities earlier. Honors Program students will also complete a final research project in their senior year.
“The primary goals of the program are recruiting great students and retaining them,” Susan Barron, the director of the program said.
So far, the recruiting objective appears to be successful.
One of 24 freshmen recruited to the pilot class, Holly Poore credits the program as the deciding factor in her decision to come to UK.
“I was deciding between the University of Michigan, Indiana University and UK," Poore said. "I knew that all three schools had good psychology programs and that I'd get a good education no matter which I chose. What UK had that the other schools didn't is this program.”
In her first semester of college, she has already joined a research lab. She assists Nathan DeWall in researching social psychology.
“We're exploring aggression between romantic partners. What increases aggression and what priming we could use to decrease aggression,” Poore said.
Poore, who has already set her sights on a career in clinical psychology, feels confident that the honors program will prepare her to be a competitive candidate when she applies to graduate programs.
The Psychology Honors Program also hosts various workshops for its students to help pave their way for successful academic progress. For instance, last month they offered a workshop on combating test anxiety and one on memory enhancement.
While Barron is excited about the advantages the program offers, she is quick to point out that the program is a win-win situation for everyone, even psychology majors who are not in it.
“All of our majors have great opportunities," Barron said. "This is just an additional tool that will help our department build on our strengths and attract the brightest students.”
For more information about the Honors Program in Psychology including the criterion for entry and the online application, click here.