The IUPUI Psi Chi Chapter shares the secrets of its success, including how its new point system directly rewards both the chapter and its members.
It could be said that this past year was the most successful ever for Indiana University - Purdue University's Indianapolis chapter of Psi Chi. Students were eager and excited about becoming involved, the officers formed and maintained a cohesive bond, student and faculty collaboration ran rampant throughout the department, meeting attendance tallied in at over 50 students, and our annual induction boasted an all-time high of 34 new Psi Chi members! To what can we attribute all of our success? Three simple elements: teamwork, communication, and incentive.
This element is self-explanatory, yet we often take its power for granted. When considering the effectiveness of a cohesive team, perhaps we would be wise to think of the German psychologist Max Wertheimer who founded the school of Gestalt psychology. A famous tenet of Gestalt psychology, as you may recall from your introductory psychology courses, asserts that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As a cohesive group we accomplished far more than if each of us had been working in isolation!
How difficult our tasks would have been had we not had the power to communicate with one another. A flyer posting upcoming events, a message pleading for help, a reassuring smile silently communicating that a job was well done. No matter what the medium, communication is the key element in any successful enterprise. With ingenuity and the inspiration of our wonderful faculty advisor, Dr. Mikki Poynter, we took this element one step further by establishing a listserv. For those of you who are not familiar with this system, let me explain. A listserv is a service that can be established through most e-mail accounts. This can serve as a tool by allowing multiple users to sign up for an "information exchange." Each time you send an e-mail message over the listserv, it is distributed to all the members of the listserv, who can then reply to you privately or to the entire group. Not only did we establish a listserv throughout the department (which has nearly 200 members), but we also established one solely for officers to communicate back and forth. This was an excellent tool for students to see all of the activities and action we precipitated and to receive constant information and feedback.
Now, for the moment you have all been waiting for. What's with this incentive program? Well, basically we revised, revamped, and overhauled our existing point system with a new and improved foolproof method. Each time a student participates in an activity related to Psi Chi, they earn an allotted number of points (see Table 1). At the end of each month they are responsible for turning in a time sheet that lists all of their activities so that the points they earned may be determined (see Figure 1). At the end of the semester, all of the points earned by every active member are totaled. The percentage of that total earned by each student is then computed. Each student then earns the equivalent of that percentage as a percentage of the total amount of money our chapter earned for the semester, Have I lost you yet? Let's try a simple example:
Silly Selette, Rockin' Robert, and Zany Zanita have all participated in Psi Chi activities during the fall semester. Silly Selette earned a total of 600 points, Rockin' Robert earned a total of 300 points, and Zany Zanita earned a total of 100 points. Together, all three members earned 1,000 points. Coincidentally, our chapter earned $1,000 during the fall semester. So, Silly Selette receives earnings of $600, Rockin' Robert earns $300, and Zany Zanita earns $100.
Does that clear it up a little? Okay, so now you want to know, how do we award these earnings? Well, each member can use their earnings for any academic-related activity that the active members approve. These have included such things as funding for attending conferences, studying abroad, a copy of the DSM, or a gift certificate to the school's bookstore. In order to receive reimbursement, members must submit an original receipt. If they would like funding up front, we cut a check directly to the organization through which they are receiving the service.
Because our chapter has several sources of revenue, some of our officers and members have received a great deal of money. For instance, Selette Padrick, our newly elected president, received over $800 from her efforts during the fall of 1997! Because she is minoring in Spanish and is very interested in the Cuban culture, she will use her money to travel with one of her professors this summer to Cuba, where she will study for several weeks.
As the exiting president of our local chapter, I reflect on this past year with a great sense of intrinsic reward and extrinsic accomplishment. I am confident that a series of well-established systems have been set in place. I also believe that the strong group of leaders who are stepping in this year will only improve and enhance the success we have experienced.
Good luck to everyone who is embarking on a new adventure this year through Psi Chi. You truly are the future of our organization!
Fall 1998 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 32-33), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 1998, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.