This fall Dr. Amy Roberts, an assistant professor of developmental psychology at Roosevelt University, is asking RU graduate students to engage in service-learning by helping Chicago community members answer questions like:
• Are there gender differences in littering behavior?
• How are relationships between employees and their supervisors influenced by a strike?
• How can local manufacturers best attract and retain quality employees?
Dr. Roberts got the idea to offer Advanced Research Methods (PSYC 530) as a service-learning course when she was mentoring an 8th grader with the Spark program (http://www.sparkprogram.org/). Spark is a national program that matches youth with mentors working in the careers of their choice for apprenticeships. Dr. Roberts realized that she was covering many of the major topics addressed in her research methods courses through this mentorship with an 8th grader interested in psychology research. She thought students could learn about social science research through meaningful service to Chicago communities.
Learning through mentoring
Graduate students pursuing MAs in clinical psychology are introducing Chicago area students to social science research by guiding them through conducting social science research projects. Twelve RU graduate students visit students once a week to help them articulate questions about human behavior and design methods for answering them. This mentoring has been made possible through partnerships with the Spark program and visionary teachers at Enrico Fermi Elementary, Crete-Monee High and St. Albert schools. These mentorships enable graduate students pursuing a Masters in clinical psychology to apply the research methods concepts discussed in class while gaining experience guiding children in working through challenging questions.
Learning through researching current events
The recent teacher strike interrupted students’ mentorship projects, but also provided opportunities to ask new research questions. A small group of psychology graduate students who had not yet started projects with youth at local schools decided instead to study issues related to the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike. Students will be exploring teacher’s feelings about the strike, how relationships between teachers and administrators have been impacted by the strike, and how the experience of this particular labor strike compares to that of workers involved in other recent Chicago area strikes. These graduate students are applying research methods to answering pertinent questions while gaining experience working with labor communities following difficult changes in relationships relate to the strike.
Learning through consulting
A third group of psychology graduate students pursuing MA in Industrial and Organizational psychology are working with Polyair, a local company who’s human resources manager, Juliana Lopez, is a Roosevelt University I/O Psychology Masters alum. These students will be helping Polyair to improve their procedures for recruitment and retention of high quality employees. This community partnership was supported by the Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Center of the Psychology Department at Roosevelt University. Graduates planning work in industrial and organizational psychology are learning to bridge research and practice while making important connections with local business.