|Academic Day: A Collaboration Across Organizations for the Benefit of the Discipline|
|Maribeth Veal and Lloyd "Chip" Taylor, PhD, The Citadel (SC) |
South Carolina has a long-standing reputation of supporting the goals of psychologists who practice within the academic sectors as well as those who practice primarily as clinicians. This support has been garnered from those mental health professionals who are ardent champions of the scientist-practitioner model of care. Specifically, many members of the South Carolina Psychological Association (SCPA) have worked tirelessly to embrace both components of our discipline and to involve students in as many venues as possible. Other state associations have looked to South Carolina, and SCPA in particular, as a model of this level of integration. The assistant executive director for state advocacy with the APA Practice Directorate, Dan Abrahamson, characterized South Carolina’s commitment to academic psychologists and those working primarily in the clinical sector as "a remarkable accomplishment at a time when many state associations have struggled mightily to keep academic psychologists involved.” (D. Abrahamson, personal communication, April 17, 2008)
Although South Carolina and SCPA are models of the scientist-practitioner ideal in psychology by integrating academia with clinical work, recently, SCPA underwent significant changes, including the loss of its executive director and a transition in leadership at the board level. During this period, the organization struggled to meet the needs of its members, particularly students and psychologists working primarily in academic sectors. The culmination of these struggles occurred during the 2006-07 academic year when SCPA was forced to cancel one of its primary academically based endeavors, Academic Day.
Academic Day was initially sponsored by SCPA and had a longstanding history of success. Catering to the needs of undergraduate students and their faculty from across the state of South Carolina, this one-day event brought together students from across the state for a day of learning and competition. Typically, workshops sponsored by publishers, graduate students, and faculty covered a wide array of topics, from multimedia use in the classroom to research methodology and design. Additionally, Academic Day included a psychology quiz bowl, during which teams from various undergraduate institutions from across the state would compete to answer psychology questions and trivia. Because Academic Day served as a primary venue for undergraduate students to collaborate and interact with others in the field, the cancellation of this event during 2006-07 was significant and spurred the Psi Chi Chapter at The Citadel to action.
Following the cancellation of Academic Day 2006, Psi Chi leaders at The Citadel discussed numerous ideas for revitalizing this important event, including simply hosting the event ourselves. However, as we discussed the importance of this event, it became apparent that there was more at stake than Academic Day. SCPA, with its rich history of supporting the scientist-practitioner model, was slipping away from this basic tenet. To avoid this consequence, our Psi Chi chapter decided to act. We developed a proposal to cosponsor Academic Day for a period of two years and then pass the baton to another Psi Chi chapter in the state at the conclusion of this period. The board of executives for SCPA approved this proposal, and in the spring of 2007 we began our work.
Motivation for our cosponsorship of Academic Day 2007 lay in the missions of both Psi Chi and SCPA, which are aimed at both academic psychologists and private practitioners. Specifically, Psi Chi holds its chapters accountable for encouraging the ongoing academic accomplishments and professional growth of its members by providing programs that enhance the regular curriculum and offer practical experience and fellowship. These efforts contribute directly to the mission statement of the Society and work to "produce a well-educated, ethical, and socially responsible member committed to contributing to the science and profession of psychology and to society in general” (Psi Chi, n.d.). Psi Chi also promotes collaboration with state organizations and other Psi Chi chapters. SCPA is the only professional organization in the state that represents not only practitioners but also academic psychologists and clinical practicioners working in the public sectors. Additionally, SCPA endorses collaboration among members through events such as conferences, leadership and public education activities, and of course, Academic Day. The Citadel chapter of Psi Chi proposed to re-invigorate Academic Day in 2007 as a way to show support for these missions and goals and to provide a service to both psychology as a discipline and to the state, its teachers, and students. We also wanted to capitalize on the opportunity, through the event, to illustrate the scientistpractitioner model and emphasize its importance to both students and the organizations.
For our first course of action, we involved other schools in the organization of Academic Day 2007. Specifically, we solicited input from the Psi Chi chapters at Charleston Southern University and College of Charleston and from the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Trident Technical College. Next, we held an organizational meeting with executive members of SCPA and faculty advisors from the lead institutions during the month of May 2007 to plan the event. We reserved the location, set the registration fee, made arrangements for lunch, recruited sponsors, made registration packets, and invited Dr. Russell Barkley to give the keynote presentation on his research on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Russell Barkley’s presentation generated significant interest across the state and served as the capstone of the program. The program for Academic Day 2007 is listed in Table 1. We advertised Academic Day to colleges and universities across the state and regionally through newsletters, flyers, electronic means, and personal communication. The result of these efforts was a well-established and very successful Academic Day 2007 involving four local sponsors as well as 174 students and 40 faculty members representing five graduate schools and ten undergraduate schools.
Table 1: Academic Day "At a Glance"
Pick up packet and check out tables with information from graduate school programs and other vendors (look for clues for the drawing at lunch!!)
9:00-9:20: Welcoming address
9:30-10:20: Information Session 1
Participants attend a presentation either on psychology club leadership or from a panel of professionals about their work in the field
10:30-11:30: Quiz Bowl Round 1
11:30-12:20: Information Session 2
Participants attend a presentation either on undergraduate research or from a panel of professionals about their work in the field
Provided by The Citadel Chapter of Psi Chi, prizes were given away using the clues from registration; each table is attended by a graduate student or faculty member to answer questions about his or her respective program of study
1:15-2:30: Dr. Russell Barkley’s Keynote Address
2:30-3:15: Quiz Bowl Round 2 and Finals/Awards
Activities were targeted to various audiences including undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and Psi Chi chapter leaders. Specifically, undergraduate students were invited to attend panel discussions presented by psychologists practicing in various domains of the field including research psychology, forensic psychology, clinical psychology, school psychology, and social psychology. Participants discussed similarities and differences in training and theoretical approaches in a seminar-like presentation that was well attended. Faculty participated in discussions with the leadership of SCPA that were intended to generate ideas to strengthen their presence within the organization. They discussed topics such as the student research competition held at the annual spring conference, the possibility of developing a journal for the organization, and potential topics/workshops for Academic Day 2008. Both faculty and students participated in the traditional yet revamped Quiz Bowl; its new format was well received. A highlight of the day was the presentation by Dr. Russell Barkley. His comments about the experience demonstrate the effect we hoped to achieve: "I consider my participation in the Psi Chi Academic Day to be an honor, a privilege, and an opportunity to positively impact the many psychology students in attendance. Specifically, I believe my presentation and the Academic Day more generally showed psychology students the excitement and potential for discovery that continues to exist within this rewarding clinical and research field” (R. Barkley, personal communication, April 17, 2008).
The success of Academic Day 2007 highlights the benefits of collaboration. Our discipline prides itself on peer interactions and cooperation within our academic and practitioner pursuits. We write journal articles together, we consult our fellow practitioners when we are faced with clinical dilemmas, and we serve together on committees aimed at promoting the discipline. Both Psi Chi and SCPA also promote collaborative efforts as part of their missions, recognizing that psychology is not an individual sport. The opportunity for our Psi Chi chapter to cosponsor Academic Day with our state psychological association serves as a tangible example to our students of the benefits of collaborative efforts and the importance of the scientist-practitioner model. This collaboration additionally serves as a model for other Psi Chi chapters as they seek to make a significant impact across their states and regions. Together we can accomplish much. In the words of Dr. Barkley, we "would hope that this day of celebrating psychology and its accomplishments with students [will] continue for years to come” (R. Barkley, personal communication, April 17, 2008).
Psi Chi (n.d.). Purpose & mission statements. Retrieved June 3, 2008, from http://www.psichi.org/about/purpose.asp
Chip Taylor, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of
Psychology at The Citadel (The Military College of South Carolina). He
currently serves as the faculty advisor of the Psi Chi Chapter at The Citadel.
Dr. Taylor is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in behavioral
health issues and concerns among children, adolescents, and families. He
completed his training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Medical
University of South Carolina.
Maribeth Veal is a first-year graduate student of school
psychology at The Citadel Military College of South Carolina. She currently
serves as the vice-president of the Psi Chi Chapter at The Citadel. She was
inducted into the Honor Society in fall of 2002 at the College of Charleston
(SC), where she was awarded her BS degree in psychology in 2004. She was also
inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society in 2002, and served as
the College of Charleston chapter’s coservice director until she graduated.
Maribeth plans on pursuing a PhD in school psychology after completing the
master’s program at The Citadel.
Copyright 2008 (Volume 13, Issue 1) by Psi Chi, the
International Honor Society in Psychology
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