|Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2019|
Eye on Psi Chi
Spring 2019 | Volume 23 | Issue 3
Psi Chi Past-President’s Message “ Do Your Best Because That Is All You Can Ever Do:” Making the Most of Psi Chi and Its Affordances
R. Eric Landrum, PhD,
The titular phrase in quotations did not originate with me, but it is one that I have used many times in my life; not only with students, but also as a father raising children, and also as part of self-talk during difficult times during my own life. My daughter Allison (age 27) is far enough into her own career that, when supervising her own employees, she tells me that she hears herself saying this. She remembers that (a) it seemed like such a cliché to hear it from her father so many times growing up, and yet (b) it is perfectly appropriate in so many life situations, both personal and professional.
The second part of the title, concerning affordances, is a topic that I have given talks about and also written about before (see Landrum, 2018). In psychology, the idea of affordances comes from the study of animal behavior, in that an animal establishes a favorable behavioral repertoire to adapt and survive in its environment; said another way, the environment provides affordances (Gibson, 1977). In my 2018 article, I presented the idea that the discipline of psychology has career affordances for its majors; that is, there are inherent career opportunities and limitations when a person chooses to major in psychology. Organizationally speaking, I believe that Psi Chi provides affordances to its members, advisors, and to the discipline. The key question is this—are we making the most of the opportunities afforded to us? That is, are you doing your best to make the most of your Psi Chi experience?
Now for an interesting twist (I hope). This is not going to be the retrospective that you might expect about the organization, but a brief retrospective about how (at least) one person might have come close to “doing their best” in making the most of Psi Chi’s affordances—me. I do not offer this example as bragging or boasting, but in appreciation of the enduring support and contribution that Psi Chi has made to my personal development and professional career. I want to document for you what you can achieve when you truly leverage the opportunities available to Psi Chi members.
Pictured below: Dr. Landrum receiving his Psi Chi Certificate at Monmouth College (IL) in 1983.
I became a member of Psi Chi on December 13, 1983, and received my Psi Chi certificate at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois (which is framed in my home office even though the certificates are much fancier now). I was honored to serve as my chapter’s President during my senior year at Monmouth (1984–1985), and during that same year, I leveraged another opportunity afforded to me by Psi Chi—I made my first conference presentation at a regional convention. I gave a 12-minute talk during the Psi Chi session of the 1985 meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA) at the Palmer House in Chicago. For any of you who have been to MPA at the Palmer House, you can just imagine that first thrill I experienced in that historic landmark presenting research as if I were a psychologist. That confidence is but one of the many gifts Psi Chi has given to me over a professional lifetime (I doubt that I realized at the time that the moderator of my paper session was the Psi Chi National President whose signature was on my membership certificate).
As I continued to reminisce about making the best of Psi Chi affordances, I employed this strategy: I searched for “Psi Chi” throughout my CV, with 108 hits. My involvement with Psi Chi continued after becoming a faculty member at Boise State University, which was manifested in a variety of ways:
Did I do my best? Hard to say. Did I make the most of the opportunities afforded to me by Psi Chi? To be honest, I am hardpressed to think of another individual who has benefitted more from Psi Chi than I have. Psi Chi has supported my intellectual and professional development beyond my wildest dreams. During my presidential year, I was able to launch, with the support of the Psi Chi Board of Directors and the Central Office staff, the firstever Presidential Initiative—Help Helped Me. I hope to continue to contribute to this effort long after I am no longer a member of the Board. If you are truly interested in doing your best, I gently challenge you to look to Psi Chi: if you carefully examine the opportunities afforded to you, you might discover your own pathway to remarkable success, just as Psi Chi has allowed me to discover. And I will be thankful forever, and forever attempting to pay it forward.
Gibson, J. J. (1977). The theory of affordances. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Landrum, R. E. (2018). Affordances and alignments: Continuing challenges in advising undergraduate psychology majors. Teaching of Psychology, 45, 84–90. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628317745462
R. Eric Landrum is a professor of psychology at Boise State University, receiving his PhD in cognitive psychology from Southern Illinois University–Carbondale. His research interests center on the educational conditions that best facilitate student success and the use of SoTL strategies to advance the efforts of scientist-educators. He has over 300 professional presentations at conferences and published over 25 books/book chapters, and has published over 75 professional articles in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. Eric has worked with over 300 undergraduate research assistants and taught over 13,000 students in 23 years at Boise State. In 2014, APA President Nadine Kaslow presented Eric with an APA Presidential Citation in honor of his work in advancing the teaching of psychology. Eric is the lead author of The Psychology Major: Career Options and Strategies for Success (5th ed., 2013), authored Undergraduate Writing in Psychology: Learning to Tell the Scientific Story (2nd ed., 2012), and Finding A Job With a Psychology Bachelor's Degree: Expert Advice for Launching Your Career (2009). With the launch of a new APA journal in 2015—Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology—he will serve as one of its inaugural coeditors. Eric served as Vice-President for the Rocky Mountain region of Psi Chi (2009–2011). He is a member of the American Psychological Association, a fellow in APA’s Division Two (Society for the Teaching of Psychology/STP), served as STP secretary (2009–2011), and served as the 2014 STP President. In April 2016, he becomes President of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association.
Copyright 2019 (Vol. 23, Iss. 3) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology