SEPTEMBER 2013 • MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY 63
develop posters and some submit their articles for publication.
Student posters at the EPA meeting, for example, included
research on the relationship between personality and dietary
interest, a study exploring whether concussed students
experience reduced awareness and a look at how frustration
affects performance on cognitive tasks.
The results have been dramatic: Today, Washington College
consistently scores above the 80th percentile on the ETS exam.
Students in the clinical and biopsychology tracks tend to score
in the 90s, “a leap,” Spilich says, “and it’s all due to engaging
them in experiences that most people don’t have until graduate
‘They can hold their own’
One of those experiences is the chance to present research
projects at professional conferences alongside tenured
professors and established researchers. That is expected at
Washington College. Since 1996, the college has never had fewer
than 25 student co-authors per year at professional conferences.
This year, it had 60.
“There are a lot of different conferences where we encourage
them to submit their research because discussing your work
is an important part of being a developing psychologist,” says
William Jackson, a junior at Washington College, was one
of 16 students who presented a poster at the EPA convention
in March. His research project looked at how overweight
people and normal-weight people react physically to anxiety.
At the conference, he explained his team’s method and fielded
questions about their results. A few weeks later, he learned he
had won an award from the Eastern Psychological Association
of Graduate Students for his work.
Littlefield credits the award to Jackson’s ability to answer
questions — a criterion that makes up 60 percent of the
judging. His grace is typical of her students, she says. “Most of
them feel so comfortable because they’ve been working through
their project for a semester or longer,” she says. “They can hold
Washington College’s approach can be used at schools both
large and small, says Hailstorks. “More learning takes place
when students are actively engaged in the learning process —
that’s been established by the literature for several decades.” n
Junior psychology majors
propose their Senior
ideas in the atrium of
Students in Washington College’s Psychometric
Testing lab practice how to administer tests including
the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, a measure of
executive function, and the Grooved Pegboard Test,
which measures fine motor dexterity.