1/31/17 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s psychology department has continued to see a shift in the focus of its students in recent years, with more undergraduate students than ever being involved in research and attending regional and national conferences.
“We started seeing this change in the department and the faculty have done a great job of helping to get students involved and promoting this culture,” said Dr. Mitchell Metzger, chair and professor of psychology at Ashland University. “Students are getting involved in research activities as early as second-semester students in their first year and there is an enthusiasm from students in our program for these kinds of scholarly activities.”
Metzger noted that 11 AU students (out of the approximately 90 majors in the program) will be presenting their research at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association to be held April 20-22 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.
Two of the AU students – Emily Wirtz of Youngstown, Ohio, and Danielle Bruno of Medina, Ohio -- submitted an abstract to present their research at this annual meeting and were notified recently that their submission is one of only 24 that will receive a regional award at the conference. Both students are members of Psi Chi, the psychology honor society on campus.
“This is wonderful news for our students and for our program,” Metzger said. “With over 600 abstract submissions to this meeting, less than 4 percent will have submissions recognized and two of our students are in that group.”
Wirtz said the research project began with her work at the Ashland Center for Nonviolence. “I was in the very early stages of experimental design when I learned about the Sports and Violence Conference in March of last year. Because of this, I designed the research around the idea that I would be able to present preliminary research at this conference. When Danielle partnered with me and we managed to nail down the details of what we were doing, it all became very real and a very intriguing subject,” she said.
Wirtz explained that the project centers on how different coaching styles affect student athletes and their performance.
“Our research was accepted into the ACN Conference and when I learned of our acceptance into the MPA conference, I was more than ecstatic,” she said. “We get to go to Chicago. When I learned only a few days later of our award and special recognition among other Psi Chi scholars, I was beside myself knowing that all of our hard work had really paid off.”
Bruno said when she decided to partner with Wirtz on this research; she didn't know how far it would take them.
“I knew she wanted to present at the ACN conference and I took that opportunity with her. It was a wonderful experience and makes me even more excited for the MPA conference. Upon finding out we were accepted to MPA, I was overjoyed. I didn't think it could get any better until the unexpected news that we had won an award,” she said. “None of this would have been possible without Emily's determination and drive to make this happen, The Ashland Center for Nonviolence, Dr. Metzger's helpful comments and the direction of Psi Chi.”
Over the past five years, Metzger said the department has averaged 11 students each year presenting their research at national and regional conferences. “These students do research as part of a class, as independent studies, for honors theses, or as research assistants to faculty members,” he said.
Metzger said this research experience benefits students even though many will not go into research areas after graduation. “We have nearly a 100 percent acceptance rate over the past 10 years for students who apply to graduate school,” he said.
Metzger added students who are engaged in research and activities have more of a connectedness to the department. “This plays to retention and an extra connection to the department that other students may not have,” he said.
Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###