Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology, celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2004. Throughout its history, Psi Chi has devoted considerable resources to promote student professional development. For much of that time, the essential relation between students and teachers has insured a circumstantial overlap of Psi Chi programs with the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP). This article examines several Psi Chi initiatives, their connection with STP members, and issues a challenge to both associations to foster a more deliberate partnership in the future.
Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology, celebrated its 75th anniversary on September 4, 2004. From its initial 22 charter chapters, Psi Chi has grown into an organization with 1,000-plus chapters, having celebrated the installation of its 1,000th chapter at the American Psychological Association (APA) Convention in 2002. Psi Chi has also expanded beyond the borders of the U.S., approving its first Canadian charter applications from the University of Victoria (British Columbia) and Brock University (Ontario) in 2002. Including active and alumni members, Psi Chi is more than 467,000 strong and continues to grow. Little did its founders Edwin B. Newman and Frederick H. Lewis imagine what a vibrant and successful organization their brainchild would become.
This 75th anniversary offers an opportune time to reflect on the history and future of Psi Chi. Because Psi Chi is an honor society focused on students of psychology, it is appropriate to examine its historical connections to student development and to the teaching of psychology. How far has it come, and in what new directions can it go? On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Psi Chi's then-historian Thelma Hunt (1979) discussed Psi Chi's development in the context of Gordon L. Lippitt's five stages of a successful organization: creation, survival, stabilization, gaining a reputation through achievement of uniqueness, and contributions to society. Hunt asserted that Psi Chi had already developed through Stages 1-4 and had arrived at Stage 5. Today, 25 years later, Psi Chi is still at Stage 5, searching for ways to improve society through its membership. In recent years, Psi Chi has inaugurated a plethora of new programs, and this 75th anniversary seems a fine time to present some of these accomplishments and show their connections to psychology pedagogy.
Of course, Psi Chi does not stand alone in its efforts to enhance the experiences of psychology students. The Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP) enables teachers of psychology to come together to share ideas about pedagogical issues and to learn from each other. Over the years, overlapping interests have facilitated an informal relation between the two organizations. STP is a teacher-focused organization whose existence rests on the assumption that there will be students to teach. Psi Chi is a student-centered organization whose existence relies on the availability of teachers and learning environments. Each group informs the other. STP has been a leader among psychology faculty and in the teaching of psychology through its proactive introduction, encouragement, and incorporation of new pedagogical viewpoints to supplement the old and traditional. Psi Chi takes its lead from leading educators in psychology, so it is no surprise that the active members and leading figures of both organizations have overlapped over the years. For example, two early editors of the STP newsletter were Lillian G. Portenier (Psi Chi President, 1949-1952; Psi Chi Historian 1962-1973) and Wilbert S. Ray (Psi Chi member). Charles L. Brewer and Randolph A. Smith, the two most recent editors of Teaching of Psychology, have served as Psi Chi faculty advisors at Furman University and Ouachita Baptist University, respectively. Psi Chi, in recent years, has been a leader in developing programs that reflect the pedagogical shifts within education and within STP over the years and that enhance the learning experiences of psychology students.
These pedagogical shifts are best summarized in a national panel report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U, 2002) entitled Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College. This report delineated "organizing educational principles" for the "learning-centered New Academy" including a focus on learning in addition to teaching; emphasizing where and how to find information in addition to identifying what an educated person should know; valuing collaborative work in diverse groups in addition to individual work; celebrating practical knowledge in addition to learning for learning's sake; and recognizing student diversity, cultural complexity, and connections within and across disciplines (p. 44). Additionally, the panel report devotes lengthy discussions to the importance of assessment and the need to transform student advisement.
We identify six trends that are consistent with the organizing educational principles articulated in the AAC&U report (2002) and are reflected in STP programming and publications. We also consider the ways in which Psi Chi has contributed or could contribute in these areas. The six trends are (a) professionalization of undergraduate students; (b) emphasis on active, engaged learners; (c) focus on new ways to gather and evaluate information; (d) importance of service and service learning; (e) advisement as something more than curriculum planning; and (f) outcomes assessment.
Professionalization of Undergraduate Students
In order to help undergraduate students pursue their career goals, STP has moved increasingly in the direction of professionalizing the undergraduate student by nurturing undergraduate research collaborators, by encouraging independent research, and by promoting the importance of research presentations and publications. The competition for graduate school seats was and remains strong, and students benefit from whatever advantages to which they can lay claim. It is a major accomplishment for undergraduate students to declare themselves experienced in independent research, paper presentations, and research publications (Landrum & Davis, 2004). It is also a significant professional accomplishment for undergraduate students to have received competitive research awards. Fifty or more years ago, when Psi Chi's membership base was primarily graduate students and faculty, faculty may have encouraged only a few selected undergraduate students to attend a national or regional psychology conference. Mirroring the shift in Psi Chi's membership base to predominantly undergraduate students, today it is commonplace for large numbers of undergraduates to attend and present papers at regional and national conventions. In the case of some regional associations, the inclusion of undergraduate presentations has infused new life into their conventions and revived what some members viewed as declining organizations.
Psi Chi has a long history of nurturing the participation of undergraduate students in their profession. Some of the first Psi Chi paper presentations occurred in 1946 at the Philadelphia APA meeting. During these early years, there were variations of opinion among Psi Chi officers "with respect to emphasis upon undergraduate versus graduate student research and research participation" (Hunt, 1979, p. 31), but these variations eventually settled on a greater emphasis on undergraduate participation. Also during these early years, presentations by Psi Chi members occurred sporadically at the professional, regional, and state psychology conventions and in more recent years, at newly developed undergraduate psychology conferences. Following the evolution of the conventions themselves, Psi Chi presenters deliver their research in a variety of formats, the most common of which are oral presentations and poster presentations. Less common formats include symposium presentations and roundtable discussions.
Today, Psi Chi members participate regularly in national, regional, and state psychology conferences as well as in regional and local undergraduate psychology conferences. At the national and regional meetings, Psi Chi organizes its own program within the main convention program, so students may opt to present their research under the Psi Chi banner or directly through the normal convention channels. Beginning in 1976, Psi Chi presenters, upon informing the national office of their presentation, received Certificates of Recognition for Excellence in Research (changed in 1979 to Certificates of Recognition for Research, and then later to Certificates of Recognition for Scholarly Contributions). More recently, in 1993, Psi Chi inaugurated a program to give cash awards to the best papers presented at the national and regional Psi Chi programs. To date, more than 600 students have received these best research awards. The current program provides up to 8 national and 78 regional awards of $300 each.
In addition to its research awards, Psi Chi sponsors two additional award programs in partnership with two publishing companies, Allyn & Bacon and Lawrence Erlbaum. The Allyn & Bacon Psychol-ogy Awards program provides cash awards to the top three empirical papers by undergraduate students submitted for the competition. The Erlbaum Awards in Cognitive Science provide a graduate and undergraduate award of $500 each for the best empirical papers in cognitive science.
Perhaps the most ambitious project by Psi Chi to nurture the professional development of its members was the decision to found and underwrite a national, peer-reviewed quarterly publication of undergraduate student research. Approved by the Psi Chi National Council in 1995, the first issue of the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research was published in 1996 under the editorial leadership of Stephen F. Davis. The quarterly journal has thus far proven to be a great success in fulfilling its purpose "to foster and reward the scholarly efforts of undergraduate psychology students as well as to provide them with a valuable learning experience." Now in its tenth year of publication, under its second editor Warren Jones, the number and quality of manuscript submissions continues to grow. Taken together, these professional opportunities extend the teaching of psychology to venues outside the traditional walls of the college classroom (Thomas, Rewey, & Davis, 2002; Ware, Badura, & Davis, 2002). In all these efforts, it is generally SPT members who work with the student researchers as a coauthor or mentor and with the Psi Chi Journal editor as a manuscript reviewer. This circumstantial overlap of student-teacher interests is a resource for teaching, learning, and professional development that has yet to be fully developed. What has been a successful, but little recognized, "partnership" between Psi Chi and STP could, with deliberate planning, produce even greater mutual benefits to the two associations.
Active, Engaged Learners
Active learning has come a long way from SQ3R (survey, question, read, recite, and review). SQ3R has been around a long time and continues to be a fundamental recommendation to students for effective reading and studying. However, as STP members know, active learning is more than SQ3R. Active learning now encompasses a broad range of activities in and out of the classroom including, for example, daily writing-to-learn exercises, small group cooperative or collaborative assignments, research experiences, classroom demonstrations, note-taking strategies, and undergraduate teaching assistantships. Today, "active learning connotes an array of learning situations in and out of the classroom in which students enjoy hands-on and â€˜minds-on' experiences" (Mathie et al., 1993, p. 185). In a survey of Division Two's teaching award winners, Buskist (2002) found that awardees tended to become more student oriented and less lecture oriented as their careers progressed.
Psi Chi has contributed to the active learning model by encouraging students to learn by doing. In addition to convention programming, certificates of recognition for research, best research awards, and the Psi Chi Journal, Psi Chi has initiated programs to help transform undergraduates into active scientists. According to Barbara Nodine (2001), a former president of the Eastern Psychological Association and of STP, "conducting a research project engages students with the content of psychology more than any other type of learning." Because Psi Chi is an extracurricular entity that cannot directly impact the classroom environment, its programs of necessity must always play a supplemental and supportive role to active learning in the classroom. Psi Chi's efforts in this area have focused on programs that fund and reward active research by students. Learning to do good empirical research is an important lesson to be learnedâ€"even if that research is never "professionalized" by being presented or published. Several of the current Psi Chi grant programs were developed in response to observations by STP faculty about the need for or desirability of external, undergraduate research funds.
Historically, there have been several Psi Chi research award programs, not all of which survive today: the Steuart Henderson Britt awards (1950-1957); the Kenneth W. Braly awards (1954-1955); the Education, Marketing, and Management Foundation awards (1958-1968); the Psi Chi Research Awards (1969-1974); the J. P. Guilford Undergraduate Research awards (1967 to date); and the Psi Chi/APA Edwin B. Newman Graduate Research awards (1979 to date). For various reasons, including loss of external funding, only the Guilford and Newman awards continue today.
In 1994, Psi Chi established the Thelma Hunt Research Grants to fund research on questions relevant to Psi Chi and its members. Three Hunt grants of up to $3,000 are awarded each year.
Competition is open to Psi Chi students and Psi Chi advisors, and research results appear in the Psi Chi magazine Eye on Psi Chi. In 1997, an Undergraduate Research Grants program was established, which provides successful applicants up to $1,500 to cover the costs associated with doing research. Annual funding for this program is set at $45,000. More recently, in 2001, Psi Chi voted to allocate $15,000 a year to support yet another program, which provides funding of up to $1,000 for departments to host an Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference. Two additional new programs at Psi Chi enable undergraduate students to conduct research during the summer at nationally recognized research institutions: the NSF/REU Grants program provides for six $5,000 awards annually and the Summer Research Grants program provides for ten $3,500 awards annually.
Focus on New Ways to Gather and Evaluate Information
According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, society has an "almost completed transformation from an industrial to a knowledge-based society" (2002, p. iii) and "being able to find out what one needs to know has begun to replace knowledge itself as an educated person's hallmark" (2002, p. 4). Certainly, STP and its members have lived through the transition into the information age and have witnessed the myriad ways in which teaching has evolved. Electronic discussion groups and web-based assignments now supplement the traditional course format, and some faculty regularly teach online courses. Online conferences and e-books are becoming more popular and prevalent.
Psi Chi as well has moved into the information age and has committed major amounts of capital to build and maintain a top-notch website (www.psichi.org), which is accessible to students and faculty alike. A recent addition to the Psi Chi website is a chapters section, where Psi Chi chapters can set up their own website. To encourage students to develop proficiency in this new technology, Psi Chi sponsors a website awards program whereby up to three chapters per year receive $200 for "websites that are innovative, aesthetic, and useful, and that advance Psi Chi's purpose" (Psi Chi, 2002, p. 2). This relatively new venture for Psi Chi holds great potential for expansion in the years to come.
As educators in general and STP in particular continue to articulate and clarify the educational role to be played by computer technology, Psi Chi stands ready to provide its members with incentives, programs, and guidelines to confront the next phase of the technological revolution. Psi Chi's newest venture in the technology arena is its SuperLab Research Grant program, which enables one undergraduate and one graduate student a year to conduct computer-based research. Successful grant applicants receive SuperLab software and a Cedrus response pad to conduct their research.
Importance of Service and Service Learning
Discussions about the importance of service learning in the psychology curriculum gained prominence beginning with the Saint Mary's conference and its resultant text Handbook for Enhancing Undergraduate Education in Psychology (McGovern, 1993) and has continued through the 1999 National Forum on Psychology Partnerships. Among the many projects proposed at the partnerships conference is one on service learning in psychology, which has focused on developing a multilevel framework of service learning from high school to college (Duffy, 2000). According to one description, "the value of service learning in enhancing academic skills, in increasing awareness of the diversity of humanity and the complexity of human hardship, and in fostering one's civic responsibility is both theoretically and empirically justified" (Kretchmar, 2001, p. 5.)
However, service learning is more than just participation in service projects. It includes intentional connections between the service and the learning components. It also involves "civic responsibility and the development of communal values" (AAC&U, 2002, p. 6). Psi Chi plays a role in this type of service by providing incentives and rewards for members to become active Psi Chi citizens. Chapters that comply with five minimal criteria for chapter maintenance receive $100 annually for their treasury. The five criteria include submission of annual/financial reports, submission of chapter activities/officer reports for Eye on Psi Chi, voting in Psi Chi national elections, at least one induction of new members a year, and no outstanding debts to the Psi Chi National Office. This Model Chapters Award program rewards good citizenship in Psi Chi and sets the foundation for chapters to develop members who consciously recognize the importance of contributions to the group welfare.
Since its inception, Psi Chi chapters, too, have incorporated service into their programs. For example, in 1955 Psi Chi Western Vice-President David Cole was instrumental in launching the Psi Chi Service Awards that were presented to individual members by the chapters. However, 1965 was to be a watershed year with regard to Psi Chi service projects on the national level.
In 1965, Psi Chi became a member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS). Among the changes required before Psi Chi could join ACHS was a change in name "from 'honorary' society to 'honor' society" (Hogan & Sexton, 2000, p. 7). Not simply cosmetic, this name change entailed a recharacterization of Psi Chi as an honor group whose members engaged in, among other things, service to the community at large. At least as far back as this date, Psi Chi began to emphasize the importance of public service. The Psi Chi National Office and chapter advisors encouraged chapters to sponsor service projects and to report their experiences in the Psi Chi Newsletter. In 1995, the Psi Chi National Council began a more active role in service projects and established an ongoing series of national service projects and encouraged all chapters to participate in them. National projects to date have included Pens and Pencils for Malawi, New Eyes for the Needy, Adopt-a-Shelter, UNICEF, Psychology Partnerships Project, Habitat for Humanity, and Food Drives.
Successful chapters can move onward to consider entry into the annual competition for Psi Chi Regional Chapter awards. Each year, up to 12 awards of $500 are presented to the two best chapters in each of the six Psi Chi regions: one for large institutions and one for smaller institutions. Ultimately, the goal is for chapters to compete for the Cousins National Chapter award, which was founded in 1992 in honor of longtime Executive Director Ruth Cousins. The winning chapter receives $3,500 for its treasury and travel expenses to APA to receive the award.
Thus far, Psi Chi's emphasis has been on civic responsibility; it has yet to identify a specific program that promotes service learning to enhance academic skills. However, as leading educators better articulate the multifaceted ways in which service learning can enhance academic skills, Psi Chi is prepared to commit resources to such a program. In this instance, as in so many other instances, it will likely be the input from STP members that eventually spawns a specific Psi Chi initiative.
Advisement as Something More Than Curriculum Planning
Historically, the task of student advisement has evolved from an idealistic focus on the individual student's strengths and needs to a perfunctory signature on a course registration form to a new clamor for more comprehensive "advising to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population" (Ware et al., 1993, p. 49). The issue is particularly relevant in psychology because of the sheer numbers of psychology majors. Murray (1996) reported statistical projections that psychology will maintain its position as the second most popular undergraduate major over the next 20 years. Psychol- ogy needs to develop new ways to serve its ever-growing number of students.
Advisement is no longer limited to course selection. Increasingly, students are seeking advice on career planning, job seeking, graduate school applications, and vita development. Curricular and cocurricular boundaries have blurred, and the role of advisor has become more important in the future success of students. In this regard, Appleby (1998) reinforced Crookston's (1972) distinction between prescriptive advising and developmental advising. Crookston indicated that for the prescriptive advisor "once advice is given, his responsibility is largely fulfilled; now it is up to the student to fulfill his responsibility to do what is prescribed" (p. 13). On the other hand, teaching and developmental advising are inextricably linked. The developmental advisor is more aptly characterized as a mentor whose goal is to facilitate student growth and professional development (Appleby, 1998). Certainly, these goals are enduring hallmarks of the dedicated teacher.
Unfortunately, advising is not highly rewarded or valued at most institutions, and many faculty step away from this time-consuming task. STP and Psi Chi have independently tried to address this issue by developing programs that reward and recognize faculty who devote time and energy to student advisement. STP, for example, is the only professional psychological association to develop an annual awards program to acknowledge teaching excellence in graduate students and at the high school, two-year, and four-year baccalaureate level. Descriptions of STP award recipients are read annually at the STP awards ceremony, and these statements consistently describe people who have demonstrated excellence not only in teaching, but also in advising and mentoring.
Psi Chi also has developed programs to recognize and reward faculty who devote time, talent, and energy to the maintenance and nurturance of Psi Chi chapters and their members. Many of these dedicated Psi Chi advisors are active STP members. The Regional Faculty Advisor Awards program annually presents six awards of $500 to outstanding faculty advisors, one for each region. Psi Chi encourages regional winners to apply for the Denmark National Faculty Advisor Award, which was founded in 1987 in honor of former Psi Chi and APA President Florence Denmark.
Additionally, Psi Chi offers a Faculty Advisor Research Grants program, which is open only to current Psi Chi advisors. In recognition of the time that advisors devote to Psi Chi, the National Council in 1998 set aside a pool of funds to assist Psi Chi chapter advisors in their empirical research projects. The Faculty Advisor Research Grants program gives up to twelve $2000 awards for two faculty advisors from each of the six Psi Chi regions to conduct empirical research. The grant program is a competitive one, and the range of topics that have received Psi Chi funding is as varied as the population of Psi Chi advisors.
One other area in which Psi Chi contributes to the advising issue is through its articles and columns in Eye on Psi Chi. The interested reader has only to scan the table of contents of this quarterly Psi Chi publication to recognize the contribution it makes in informing students about graduate programs, graduate admissions, research opportunities, job skills, letters of recommendation, leadership skills, and so forth. The contributors of these articles are faculty advisors or faculty mentors, many of whom are STP members. Once again, we find the inevitable intersection of STP and Psi Chi.
"Assessment is part and parcel of the teaching/learning process. Explicit goals--written and widely shared--specifying what students are expected to know, form the basis for assessment. Learning goals establish the foundation for aligning curricula, teaching, and assessment" (AAC&U, 2002, p. 39). No one facing reaccreditation review can avoid the necessity of outcomes assessment. In 2002, STP once again took a proactive step in this direction by sponsoring the first national conference on Best Practices in Assessment: A Conference for Educators and Administrators in Psychology.
Although Psi Chi's extracurricular status gives it no direct role in the assessment process, we believe that its many programs provide external indices of excellence across several domains. Departments seeking to document the success of their student outcomes can certainly point to the number of students and faculty mentors who have participated in Psi Chi programs and conferences, received Psi Chi grants, awards or recognition, or published in the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research or in Eye on Psi Chi.
Psi Chi has experienced remarkable growth and success over its 75-year history. This growth and success has translated itself into an ever-increasing number of programs and initiatives aimed at nurturing the best and the brightest psychology undergraduates. Psi Chi has implemented this plethora of programs within the context and constraint of its status as an extracurricular organization. As such, Psi Chi recognizes that it has no direct role in teaching or curriculum development. What Psi Chi offers is the willingness to support the educational trends articulated by groups such as STP by developing programs to promote and supplement the learning experience of its members. To date, Psi Chi's greatest contributions have been in the areas of active learning and professional experience; however, more attention and resources are being channeled each year into other areas such as information technology, service and service learning, advisement and curriculum planning, and outcomes assessment. Psi Chi's most significant guide through all these endeavors has been and continues to be the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. As STP continues to explore the limits and variability of psychology pedagogy, Psi Chi stands ready to contribute its resources to facilitate students' adaptation to these new paradigms. The circumstantial relation between Psi Chi and STP is one of long standing, and it has served both organizations well. As Psi Chi and STP move forward into the 21st century, we propose that a more formal and deliberate collaboration between the two associations be forged so that the historical but somewhat incidental intersections of the past can be directed into a more vibrant and mutually rewarding partnership.
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