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Eye on Psi Chi: Summer 2020

Eye on Psi Chi

Summer 2020 | Volume 24 | Number 4

Think Bigger: Going Beyond What We Think We Can Do

Regan A. R. Gurung, PhD
Psi Chi President

I have advised students for over 20 years and worked with wonderful faculty for even longer. Surprisingly, both groups share many similar issues. Yes, both groups procrastinate. Both groups plan on getting a lot more work done over the weekend than they actually get done. Both groups report taking longer forays into social media than they would like. But, this is not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to draw attention to goal setting. Both students and faculty often sell themselves short. Whether it is a blend of modesty, limited exposure to options, or a history of resistance or barriers, too many of us do not aim as high as we should. Let’s change that. Let’s Think Bigger!

It is impressive to me when students come to my office. Yes, for many students, even going to a faculty member’s office can be intimidating. Once we talk about course matters, our discussion often goes to taking advantage of all the school has to offer. I share information about internships and research opportunities and then discuss career options and potentially graduate school. Faculty will see a disproportionate number of students who want to talk about graduate school because many of the straight-into-workforce students often make campus career centers a first stop. What strikes me is how many students never consider independent research, working in a faculty member’s lab, or honors projects. It is great to see them thinking big like aiming for a good grade in their courses, but they need to think bigger.

The good news is many of them do. I always maintain that faculty can suggest many opportunities to students, but only a few students take them. Those students take the initiative to think bigger than they had originally planned. This is something I work hard to do. It is certainly the case that not every individual may have the chops for graduate school or for a leadership position (say in management in the workforce), yet for a lot of students, college is the time to develop those key skills. Doing well in class is certainly important, but faculty need to be ready to help students think bigger. Many students aim for high B grades, yet with the right modification of study techniques, they can probably earn an A.

Psi Chi membership opens many doors. Whenever I have the chance to address students at inductions, I love asking what they will do with their membership. Although hard work and being in the top 35% of psychology majors earns you membership in our International Honor Society, what’s next? Getting into Psi Chi is big—think bigger. The Psi Chi website has a wealth of useful information from helping students

I hope all Psi Chi members push themselves to think bigger and go beyond their prior preset goals.

Faculty often do not remember that they have skills that can go beyond their classrooms, departments, and home universities. Although many faculty feel encumbered by the rigors of academia, they may be surprised to discover that thinking bigger, as paradoxical as that can be to the tired mind, may actually provide the balm to the tired soul. When faculty reallocate time to sharing their passions, this may help make the tedious tasks more palatable. Even better, serving the field and discipline and getting psychology out there to the public, can be thoroughly enjoyable. Doing it well and making a contribution may even get some of your mind-numbing activities reallocated from you!

Another way for faculty to think bigger is to consider joining Psi Chi if you did not when you were an undergraduate. If you are thinking Psi Chi is only for students, then read how our Executive Director Martha Zlokovich, PhD, discovered a wealth of resources and opportunities when she joined as faculty at Southeast Missouri State University. Spread the word among faculty on your campus. Graduate students and faculty members can easily join Psi Chi (your PhD satisfies all entry criteria—no need to share your undergraduate GPA). Are all the faculty in your department Psi Chi members? If not, why not? I found that many faculty do not realize they can join Psi Chi through the chapter of the school where they teach. Many faculty who join as faculty (versus as undergrads) not only inspire undergraduate students to join but also get to tap into Psi Chi grants and awards.

For students and faculty who want to Think Bigger, I invite you to join the #PsychEverywhere effort. I have been working to create resources for students and faculty to supplement all the great material available from Psi Chi. The PsychEverywhere podcast has 14 episodes on topics from getting the most out of the major (Jane Halonen) and effective group work (Carolyn Brown Kramer) to getting tenure (Guy Boysen) and how to best learn (John Dunlosky). Students at University of West Florida are creating a “What faculty members should know about students” and students at Oregon State University are working on “Why we do research and love it.” These are great examples of students and faculty thinking bigger. There is always room for more. Do you have something you want to share with the world? Is there an element of psychological science that you would like to see better utilized and spread to the masses? Get in touch.

Let’s think bigger together. #PsychEverywhere

Copyright 2020 (Vol. 24, Iss. 4) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology

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