New changes in Psychology Department geared to help students with more job opportunities

Michelle Verne

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Students that major in psychology will experience a change in their required courses beginning this fall that will help provide a better opportunity to obtain a job in the community once a bachelor’s degree is achieved.

“The new requirements are all about greater breadth of study. They require students to experience and explore all aspects of psychology early in their academic career,” said Shannon Morgan, professor in Human Factors Psychology. “The old requirements allowed students to earn their B.A. while exploring only a very narrow slice of what psychology has to offer.”

Carrie Saetermoe, chair of the Psychology Department, said that after doing an assessment of the program they found that many students did not want to go on to graduate school but wanted to go out and get a job within the community.

“We changed the senior courses to make it possible for students to go work in the community rather than to have a research lab experience, which appeals to a lot of students but not all students,” Saetermoe said. “We wanted ultimately to have a major where students could kind of anticipate the type of job that they would have if they don’t want to go to graduate school. They could work in a non-profit organization or a school, or somewhere they could seek employment after graduating.”

Senior Jillian Toops, 23, psychology major, likes the new changes but has some reservations.

“I think that the new requirement of having to take a class in every field is awesome because students can get a better grasp on exactly what they want to do with their degree,” Toops said.

Saetermoe said that the 42 required units will remain the same but the elective units will be cut down from 16 to six so that the other units can be put into the junior breadth requirement.

“We also added a unit at the senior level because those labs are really intensive and they take a lot of time and students only got one unit for it,” Saetermoe said. “Now they’ll be getting two units or what’s called a seminar and this will be a lab experience for some and then a community experience for others.”

Toops also added that although she’s in her last semester and won’t be involved in the new requirements, she is pleased with the experience she received in lab.

“I do think that the seminars and the requirements of taking a class from each field of psychology would’ve been helpful, but to take the labs out altogether is not a smart idea at all,” Toops said. “I’m disappointed that future psych students won’t get to have the hands on experience that I was fortunate enough to have.”

Morgan said that the change will provide benefits to both faculty and students.

“It offers our faculty a much wider variety of courses to teach. This should help to alleviate burnout from having to teach the same course(s) over and over and over and over,” Morgan said. “This also benefits our students. A fresh, excited instructor brings more into the classroom than one that is tired of teaching the same thing repeatedly year after year. Also, since many our former elective courses will now fulfill requirements, faculty and students shouldn’t be so worried about their courses being cancelled due to low enrollment.”

Saetermore said none of these changes are taking place because of any type of budget cuts, but occurred to try to help students make use of their degree in the way they wish to use it.

“We’re moving into a more action-oriented psychology and since we’re a teaching facility we would like to promote that and take it to our communities,” Saetermore said.