participation among the members of a Psi Chi chapter is an important goal. The
greater the number of individuals who are on hand at meetings and events, the
greater the number of activities that can be accomplished by the group as a
whole. Of course, having sufficient numbers is not the only key to increasing
active participation; incentives must also be provided in order to stimulate
and motivate students. This article outlines some of the guidelines that have
been followed by the Psi Chi Chapter at the State University of New York at
Albany, in order to maximize attendance and participation by our members. By
implementing these guidelines, membership increased well over 300%, and active
participation increased proportionately.
The recruitment of new members is essential to maintaining
activity with a Psi Chi chapter. Advertising in the school newspaper, posting
flyers and announcements, and asking faculty to mention the membership drive in
their classrooms are all good ways of alerting possible applicants to the
benefits of joining Psi Chi. Applications at our chapter are located in a
central location--the Psi Chi Bulletin Board. Students are asked to pick up an
application and return the completed forms to the faculty advisor's mailbox.
Establishing a deadline for the receipt of applications and a separate deadline
for payment of membership dues is also important. A period of approximately two
months has been effective for a typical membership drive.
application itself should provide sufficient detail regarding requirements and
benefits and should be no longer than a single page for ease of distribution
and recordkeeping. [The form, "Call for Student Information and
Application for Psi Chi Membership," is mailed to each active chapter in
the regular fall and spring mailings and is also available from the Psi Chi
National Office. --EDITOR] Previously stated benefits have included:
- The intrinsic
value of membership is rewarding to students because they are being
recognized for outstanding academic achievement.
- Membership may
be used as a reference throughout one's lifetime.
are provided to interact with other psychology majors and minors who are
interested in similar goals such as securing a job in the field or
applying to graduate programs.
- There are also
opportunities to become active in the Department of Psychology by advising
and mentoring students and providing peer counseling.
- The possibility
of holding office and assuming a leadership role, and learning the skills
involved in running a student organization.
are made available to the members for promoting their research, receiving
national and international recognition, meeting and interacting with leaders
in their field and faculty members at SUNY-Albany, and meeting members of
other chapters who also will be future leaders.
some point during the membership drive, a general interest meeting should be
held so that students can meet the chapter officers and discuss the events that
have been proposed for the coming months. Students should also have the
opportunity to submit their applications at that time and to meet the faculty
advisor of the organization. It is a good idea to have on hand the chapter
scrapbook or previous copies of the Psi Chi Newsletter and/or Eye on Psi Chi in
order to recount some of the activities that have been undertaken by the
Although the gathering of members at meetings is an obvious
part of the operating procedures of any organization, several factors can
contribute to their effectiveness as a tool to increase active participation.
Given the diversity of student schedules, meetings may alternate between two
different days or evenings such as Mondays and Tuesdays, or Tuesdays and
Wednesdays. There should be an established pattern and a regular meeting room.
In other words, members should be able to predict when and where the next
meeting should take place with a high degree of accuracy. In addition, the Psi
Chi Bulletin Board should be used to communicate the agenda and the exact
location for each meeting.
officers should have a set agenda of topics to cover for each meeting. The
meetings should always include ample opportunities for members to engage in an
activity. That is, the meetings should not simply be those in which past
business or events are reviewed or discussed. Finally, the point system
presented below includes specific activities that can be undertaken by the Psi
Chi members. Meetings combined with guest speakers, panels, or workshops are
extremely effective as the students have a more explicit reason for attending
Sponsoring a workshop or a panel discussion is one way of lending visibility to
a Psi Chi chapter. Often, students who attend these events inquire about
membership and follow through on the application process. An extremely valuable
presentation is one dedicated to preparing students for the application process
to graduate school. "How to Apply to Graduate School in Psychology"
is typically a well-attended program for psychology majors at most
institutions. The panel of speakers should include individuals who represent a
broad range of mental health professions such as researchers, clinicians, counselors,
social workers, and school psychologists. Although not every group needs to be
represented during a single session, a diversity of professions should be
included to provide sufficient options for career choices by students. This
event should provide information related to the application process, interview
techniques, and school selection. The Psi Chi chapter can also provide
literature and obtain different catalogs and reference books for this
presentation. A key to increasing active participation in the chapter includes
making a chapter known to the department and to the student body as a whole.
Sponsoring activities and events is a good tool for increasing awareness of the
services provided by a Psi Chi chapter.
second successful panel can include current graduate students within the
university or from neighboring institutions who agree to discuss their
experiences in the application process and as members of a graduate student
population. Students may find it easier to understand and identify with the
experiences of new graduate students, and they have the opportunity to ask
questions firsthand regarding the daily routine and obligations of students in
various programs. Again, different areas of psychology should be represented on
any graduate student panel. With faculty and advisors absent from the
discussion, students can freely discuss any aspect of the application process
and the expectations they have of a graduate program in general.
Perhaps the single most effective key to increasing active participation with
the SUNY-Albany Chapter of Psi Chi has been the use of a structured point
system. The philosophy behind the point system is that students are more likely
to attend meetings and participate in Psi Chi - sponsored events if they are
provided incentives to do so. Although some of the benefits previously
mentioned are intrinsic and intangible, the point system provides for rewards
for participation in a more structured manner. A sample point system that has
been used effectively for SUNY-Albany appears on the following page
[SUNY-Albany's Point System appears directly below. --WEBMASTER]. Note that
this university is on a semester system, and Psi Chi is active for two
semesters a year--fall and spring. The system can be adapted for schools that
divide the academic year into quarters as well. In addition, the stated number
of points should be altered to reflect the actual number of activities and
meetings a chapter expects to undertake during a given year.
Psi Chi Chapter Point System
In an effort to promote active membership, the following point system has been
Work Service (per activity; number of points per activity depends on length
of time given and responsibilities assumed)
at meetings and speaking events (per meeting)
in a Psi Chi - sponsored event in an active capacity (e.g., acting as an
usher at the induction ceremony; participation in a fundraiser)
1 (per hour)
- - - - - - - - - - -
Total Points Needed
8 or less
Note: If a member cannot come to an event or meeting but wants to be an
active member, that person should call or talk to the Psi Chi chapter secretary
whose number is listed on the Psi Chi Bulletin Board on the first floor of the
Social Science building. This is the only way to receive points if you cannot
attend the above.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Although it is preferable for Psi Chi members to be active,
chapters should recognize that some members are unable to complete such
activities as are listed here. Inactive members continue to be members of Psi
Chi for a lifetime. Privileges of membership should not be withheld.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Total Points Needed
(per academic year)
of Outstanding Membership*
A list of Outstanding Members will be distributed to the psychology faculty
for use in providing letters of recommendation and letters of reference; in
addition, Outstanding Members will be given honor cords and/or a Psi Chi
medallion to wear at graduation.2)
of Active Membership in Good Standing
*If you have been a member of this organization for less than one academic year
(two academic semesters) check with the chapter officers or faculty advisor for
EDITOR'S NOTE: Inactive members may also wear the honor
cords and/or medallions at graduation, but they must purchase them.
- - - - - - - - - - -
- All certificates
are to be awarded at the yearly induction/awards ceremony.
- It is expected
that all officers will be Outstanding Members of the organization. Their
participation is expected throughout their entire term in office.
- Members who hold
office at some point during their undergraduate years at SUNY will
automatically be eligible to wear some distinction of honor at graduation.
- It is the
responsibility of the chapter secretary to keep a log of the points
accumulated by all current members and to have that information ready for
inspection at any time. The secretary is also responsible for informing
all current members about the point system.
- Chairpersons are
in charge of organizing specific events throughout the semester. If, for
example, you are chair of fundraising, then you will be expected to serve
as a chairperson throughout the semester, regardless of the number of
activities performed by this group. Chairpersons are expected to be active
members of the organization, maintain good attendance at meetings, and
assume responsibilities for the events they supervise.
- - - - - - - - - - -
following list of activities is a tentative one. Others may be added or current
suggestions may be deleted as the need arises:
Duties: This activity involves the duplication and posting of signs announcing
Psi Chi-sponsored events. Posting should be completed at least four days prior
to the event date. The chairperson for this activity is responsible for meeting
with the treasurer and a faculty advisor to discuss the disbursement of funds
for the duplication of materials. The chairperson will also be responsible for
recruiting other members of Psi Chi to participate in this activity.
Duties: Fundraising involves the selection of ideas for possible fundraising
activities, organizing those activities, and reporting on their outcome. It is
the responsibility of the chairperson to oversee the organization and execution
of the activities surrounding the actual events and to report the amount raised
to the members of Psi Chi. Money raised should also be reported to the
treasurer and a faculty advisor for deposit in the organization's account.
Duties: This activity requires the chairperson(s) to seek individuals who are
willing to make presentations to the university on relevant topics in
psychology. They should generate a list of names of individuals, contact those
individuals, and arrange the location for their presentation. The list of names
should first be presented to the members of Psi Chi for selection. The
chairperson(s) of this activity should then contact the chairperson for posting
to advertise for the event.
Duties: This event requires the chairperson(s) to work with the chapter
officers in preparation for the induction ceremony which will be held in April.
This involves arranging for speakers, order of ceremony, invitations, printed
programs, decorations, refreshments, cleanup, etc. This activity requires
individuals who are organized, motivated, and highly reliable. The faculty
advisor can provide a mailing list for mailing invitations, and the treasurer
can provide funding for mailing supplies.
Duties: Individuals engaged in this activity will be responsible for arranging
an area for Psi Chi members to meet other psychology majors at preregistration.
The Psi Chi members will serve as advisors in assessing other majors in the
selection of courses for the following academic semester. The chairperson of
this activity needs to consult the faculty advisor for information on when and
where to set up this event. The chairperson will need to set up hours for
advisement and make sure that peer advisors have the necessary materials
(catalog of courses, semester schedules, etc.) before this event takes place.
Duties: In order to promote service to the community at large, this group will
focus on locating outlets for volunteer activities for the other members of Psi
Chi. This may include contacting local hospitals, care units, mental health
centers, schools, community programs, etc., to find out the details of each
volunteer activity. Individuals will consult a chairperson(s) and the officers
of Psi Chi to discuss and present the possibilities to them, and later to all
of the members.
The inclusion of
incentives and the opportunity to receive recognition as an Outstanding Member
has greatly increased active participation in the SUNY-Albany Psi Chi Chapter.
Although there are always a large number of comments made by individuals,
particularly by officers, with regards to other types of benefits and rewards
that are achieved through volunteer work and the sponsoring of events, the
recognition of active members is deemed as an important part of Psi Chi.
The above comments are meant as a guideline
for new and existing Psi Chi chapters. The institution of any new policies or
procedures should always be discussed with individuals at the Psi Chi National
Office so that current rules and regulations can be reviewed before a new
procedure takes place. The use of a point system is only one of many options
for structuring a chapter so as to maximize attendance and participation.
However, it has already been shown to be quite effective at our institution.