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Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2006

Psi Chi's Contribution to Quality in Undergraduate Programs
Virginia Andreoli Mathie, PhD, Psi Chi Executive Director

The Psi Chi National Office receives requests for information dealing with a variety of issues in psychology. Recently a person asked if there was any formal accreditation for undergraduate psychology programs. This question prompted me to think about what constitutes high quality undergraduate psychology programs and the contributions Psi Chi makes to enhance the quality of these programs.
At the graduate level, one way to assess the quality of psychology programs is to determine if the program is accredited. For example, the American Psychological Association (APA) accredits doctoral programs in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, and combinations of these areas. APA also accredits predoctoral and postdoctoral internships. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredits master's and doctoral programs in counseling, counselor education, and student affairs. Although it does not accredit programs, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) does approve graduate programs in school psychology using a process similar to accreditation. To become accredited, a program must pass extensive reviews by an accreditation team. Receiving accreditation is an indication the program meets nationally recognized standards in education and training in the area (APA, 2005; CACREP, 2005). Graduation from accredited programs does not guarantee that graduates will get their professional license or get a job, but in some cases it could make it easier to do so.
Unlike the accreditation process for graduate programs, however, there is no organization that accredits undergraduate psychology programs. In lieu of accreditation standards, many psychology departments use the APA (2002) document Undergraduate Psychology Major Learning Goals and Outcomes: A Report as a guide to what constitutes a high quality undergraduate psychology program. The document describes 10 goals for undergraduate psychology programs (see Table 1) along with suggested learning outcomes for each goal. [Webmaster note: The content found in the print version of Table 1 on page 8 of the Spring 2006 Eye on Psi Chi, especially the goals referenced in the following paragraph, can be found on pages 8 and 9 from APA.] The companion resource Assessment CyberGuide for Learning Goals and Outcomes in the Undergraduate Psychology Major (APA, n.d.) provides strategies for assessing the extent to which programs meet these goals. Many departments undertake extensive reviews of their psychology programs and revise them to meet as many of these goals as possible. I believe Psi Chi chapters can and do play a vital role in helping departments meet these goals.
For example, Psi Chi chapters often invite speakers to the department to give presentations about the speakers' areas of research, current topics of interest in the discipline, the application of psychology to real life problems and issues, careers in psychology, or applying to psychology graduate programs. These programs help students expand their knowledge base (Goal 1), learn how psychological principles are applied in real life (Goal 4), examine their own behavior (Goal 9), and learn about psychology careers and graduate programs (Goal 10). Many Psi Chi chapters provide members with opportunities to conduct research, encourage members to apply for Psi Chi research grants and awards, host local or regional student research conferences, and/or bring students to regional or national psychology meetings to present their research. These activities help students develop their research (Goal 2), critical thinking (Goal 3), technological (Goal 6), and communication skills (Goal 7) as well as help them understand the values that underlie the discipline of psychology (Goal 5). Most Psi Chi chapters develop and implement community service projects that address local, regional, or national needs. Many of these projects provide opportunities for students to interact with community members and local agencies. These service projects provide opportunities for students to enhance their critical thinking skills (Goal 3), learn how psychology can address social needs (Goal 4), become socially responsible members of their community (Goal 5), learn more about other groups and other cultures (Goal 8), and develop their leadership skills (Goal 9). Finally, serving as Psi Chi chapter officers provides students with opportunities to enhance their critical thinking and problem solving skills (Goal 3), apply their knowledge of psychology to organizational issues (Goal 4), practice their communication skills (Goal 7), and develop their leadership skills (Goal 9).
An active Psi Chi chapter is an important partner in helping a department achieve its educational goals. I urge Psi Chi advisors and officers to work within their departments to expand opportunities that will enhance the quality of their undergraduate and graduate programs.
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Assessment cyberguide for learning goals and outcomes in the undergraduate psychology major. Retrieved December 19, 2005, from
American Psychological Association. (2005). Frequently asked questions about accreditation in psychology. Retrieved December 15, 2005, from
American Psychological Association. (2002). Undergraduate psychology major learning goals and outcomes: A report. Retrieved December 15, 2005, from
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. (2005). FAQs. Retrieved December 15, 2005, from

Ever since her childhood in Toronto, Canada, Virginia (Ginny) Andreoli Mathie, PhD wanted to be a teacher. As the eldest of five daughters born to Thomas and Julia Andreoli, Ginny spent many summer days playing "teacher" in a make-believe classroom, with her sisters Dolores, Frances, Marion, and Donna playing the role of students. During high school Ginny wanted to be a mathematics teacher so in 1967 she entered the mathematics and computer science program at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. She soon became hooked on psychology as well and after completing her BMath and BA in Psychology degrees, she entered the social psychology program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she completed her MA and PhD degrees under the mentorship of John Thibaut.

In 1975, Ginny joined the psychology faculty at what is now James Madison University (JMU) in Virginia. During her 29 years at JMU she taught a variety of courses including introductory psychology, social psychology, research methods, and statistics. Given her love of teaching, she was honored to receive the 1981 JMU Distinguished Teacher Award and to be named the 2000 American Psychological Association (APA) Harry Kirke Wolfe Lecturer. Ginny's research with students and colleagues investigated topics such as factors related to family violence, differences between acknowledged and unacknowledged rape victims, and the effectiveness of instructional technology. Her publications and presentations address these topics as well as issues related to teaching and professional service. Ginny served eight years as coordinator of the JMU undergraduate program and the general psychology master's program and four years as department head. A very special highlight of her JMU career was her recent induction into the JMU Psi Chi chapter!

Among the many leadership positions she has held in professional organizations, Ginny served as a member of the Virginia Psychological Association (VPA) Board of Directors, as the VPA Secretary, and as founding president of the VPA's Virginia Academy of Academic Psychologists. She served on the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP; APA Division 2) Executive Committee for several years, was the 1995-1996 STP President, and currently represents STP on the APA Council of Represent-atives. Ginny was awarded APA Fellow status in STP in 1996. She also served on the APA Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) from 1997 through 2000 and chaired the BEA Technology Working Group, the 1999 and 2000 BEA convention programs on technology and education, and the APA Education Leadership Conference Technology Group. She was a member of the BEA Executive Committee, the BEA Education and Training Awards Committee, the APA Board of Directors Technology Applications Advisory Group, and the APA Com-mittee for Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS). One of the highlights of her career was chairing the Psychology Partnerships Project: Academic Partnerships to Meet the Teaching and Learning Needs of the 21st Century (P3), a five-year BEA project conceived by Ginny, Randy Ernst, a former chair of TOPSS, and Jill Reich, the former Executive Director of the APA Education Directorate. P3 produced many new partnerships between psychology teachers in high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and research universities as well as a variety of new resources to enhance psychology education. In recognition of her work on P3, Ginny received the APA 2002 Distinguished Contributions to Applications of Psychology to Education and Training Award.

In addition to her professional life, Ginny enjoys the special times she spends with her husband Jim, daughters Jennifer, Shannon, and Allison, son-in-law Ingmar, and grandchildren Mi Mi, Marieke, and Kees.

Copyright 2006 (Volume 10, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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