B.A. Psychology Program Review 2005-2006

Purpose of the Review

The review was conducted to assess the quality of the B.A. in Psychology degree program as part of the ongoing seven-year review cycle of every UW-Stout program.

Degree
    B.A. Psychology
Program Director
    Dr. Ed Biggerstaff
PRC Consultants
    Bill Bailey, Adam Duffenbach and Brian Finder

Committee Findings

The PRC recommends that this program continue to be one of UW-Stout's degree programs for the ongoing seven-year cycle, and that recommendations made by the committee be implemented.


Abstract

The B.A. Psychology program at UW-Stout serves the university, community, state and profession with quality education, scholarship and professional service in basic and applied psychology.  The department and program strives to sustain a community of student and faculty scholars that fosters professional as well as personal growth.  These goals are achieved through a science-based curriculum focused on applications of psychological theories and scientific methods to individual, social and organizational challenges.  The curriculum emphasizes respect for diversity of people and ideas, ethical responsibility, effective speaking, writing, listening, critical thinking and experimental applications. All of the approximately 300 psychology major students currently enrolled at UW-Stout are required to complete a second area of study, whether it is an approved minor or specialization, or a departmental committee-guided self planned 22-credit concentration.  Students in the major have flexibility in choosing either psychology selectives or free elective courses in their program.  They also have flexibility in selecting how they wish to meet the experiential as well as the applied requirements of the program.


Process Followed for Current Review

The PRC Chair met with the dean, program director and chair of the primary department to discuss the review process.  The PRC consultants also met with the program director to review the procedures and offer assistance.  Under guidelines developed by the PRC, information regarding the program was gathered from the Placement Office, Institutional Research, the program director, key instructors, program committee, students, and one‑year and three-year graduates.  There were 63 students, mostly juniors and seniors, who participated in the internet-based survey. In addition, 16 key instructors and 2 program committee members responded, while 16 of 44 graduates surveyed in 2003 and 13 of 59 graduates surveyed in 2000 responded (36% and 22% of those surveyed).  A draft document which summarized the consultants’ analysis of these surveys, institutional data and the program director’s self-report along with recommendations as deemed appropriate were distributed to the PRC with recommendations as deemed appropriate. On 12/2/05, the program director presented a summary of his report to the committee and had an opportunity to address concerns.  The Dean from the College of Human Development was also available to answer questions.  After the committee discussed and approved the consultant-based report, it was then forwarded to the dean for his response.  The PRC reviewed the dean’s response, approved the recommendation report, and forwarded the report to the Faculty Senate.


Previous Review

Previous Recommendations

The previous PRC review of the B.A Psychology program was conducted during AY 1998-1999.  That report was written by Karen Zimmerman and Richard Lowery and the committee’s recommendations as well as the applicable responses are summarized below:

1.a  Consultants’ recommendation – The program director should integrate more statistics into the program.

1.b. Program director’s response – There is no record that the previous program director (Dr. Mary Flynn) formally responded to this recommendation.

2.a.  Consultants’ recommendation - The program director should strengthen advisement efforts for those students who are not planning to go to graduate school.

2.b. Program director’s response – There is no record that the previous program director formally responded to this recommendation.

3.a. Consultants recommendation – The dean should develop a plan for the addition of new laboratory facilities and larger classrooms.

3.b.  Dean’s response – The CHD Space Committee will be given a charge to evaluate overall space needs in the College, including the lab and larger classroom needs for the B.A. Psychology program.  I will continue to pursue the prospect of adding one additional room adjacent to the current lab configuration in the basement of the Vocational Rehabilitation Building.  This area is currently used by General Services to provide a custodial office and storage.  Further, I will look at the possibility of finding a more suitable space in building areas outside of the Vocational Rehabilitation Building where research lab space may be more abundant and offer a better opportunity to interface with other research efforts in the college.

Regarding classroom needs, I am moving forward to have two small classrooms in the Vocational Rehabilitation Building configured into one larger classroom to accommodate larger class sizes.  I will also work with the CHD Space Committee and Registrar’s Office to seek better classrooms in    other facilities on campus.

4.a.  Consultants’ recommendation – The dean should provide additional funds for services and supplies, particularly for computer software and maintenance.

4.b.  Dean’s response – The department’s services and supplies budget will be increased next year by nearly $5,000.  A portion of these dollars should be allocated to purchase computer software and needed computer maintenance.  In addition to receiving $3,000 in special project funds for lab computers and another $3,000 award for being recognized as a “high performing department,” $2,500 was added to the services and supplies budget by the college to cover further needs this fiscal year.  The dean will work with the program directors from both the graduate and the undergraduate programs to explore ways in which the Psychology Lab could provide fee-for-service to the outside community to generate self-sustaining dollars to meet further needs.  Prospects for developing a Center for Applied Research are being explored.

5.a.  Consultants’ recommendation – The dean should provide funds for renewal of Statistics Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) license.

5.b.  Dean’s response – This need can be addressed similar to the above (item 4.b. response).  With the increased services and supplies dollars next year ($4,780) and opportunity for Specialized Funds, a plan can be developed to cover this cost.  Last year the department experienced an inordinate amount of copying costs that used extensive services and supplies dollars.  Better management of then increased services and supplies funds for fiscal year 1999-00 should provide for more resources for SPSS software.

The PRC consultants found that attempts have been made to address major concerns raised in the 1998-1999 program review, although it appears that student advisement is still a concern.


Program Review

Program Strengths

  1. A bulk of the instructors that teach within caring, responsive, and facilitate understanding among the students.
  2. The program is flexible with regard to course selection options
  3. The program is a significant source of applicants to various graduate-level programs at UW-Stout
  4. The program is highly focused on the development of applied research, writing and group work/discussion skills of its students
  5. A broad range of coursework is offered which provides the students with a variety of theory as well as skill-based applications
  6. Students are involved with various faculty-supported program-related extra curricular activities which heighten the students’ level of focus on the profession
  7. Current and relevant information is provided by most of the key instructors in the program

Issues of Concern

  1. A few faculty are viewed as lacking the required background and/or teaching skills necessary to deliver the course content
  2. The program advisory committee has not been active for the past year (see Addendum)
  3. The Psychology Department is in need of full-time faculty who are qualified to teach the numerous courses that the discipline covers
  4. A moderate level of course overlap appears to exist among courses like Research Methods and Experimental Psychology
  5. Concern exists with regard to the availability/scheduling of program-related courses
  6. Students appear to be unclear in advisement regarding career and higher education opportunities

Recommendations to the Program Director:

  1. It is recommended that the program director, in cooperation with the Psychology Department, strengthen the current student advisement system of opportunities available to them upon graduation. Many graduates will go on to graduate school and these students should be made aware the on and off-campus graduate programs that would best fit with their degrees and interests. Those students who don’t plan on going to graduate school (or who, in effect, end up not going to graduate school) should be advised of the employment opportunities that are open to them.
  2. It is recommended that the program director continue to develop the importance of the Program Advisory Committee and its relationship to the program. *

Recommendations to the Psychology Department Chair:

  1. It appears that the Psychology Department will see a number of retirements of full-time tenure track faculty members in the short-term. It is therefore recommended that the department chair develop a recruitment plan for the retirees’ positions as well as current part time and adjunct instructors. The careful recruitment of a new generation of tenure track faculty will ensure that the quality of Stout’s Psychology Department will not diminish.
  2. It is recommended that the department chair, in concert with the department faculty, should study and eliminate as needed, overlap of content in Research Methods and Experimental Psychology.
  3. It is recommended that the department chair, in scheduling courses, work with the key program instructors as well as students to identify and reasonably alleviate any scheduling conflicts for required courses.
  4. It is recommended that the department chair continue efforts to assist current faculty in the development/refinement of their teaching skills.
*Addendum – It should be noted that since the self-study was completed by the B.A. Psychology’s program director, he did hold a Program Advisory Committee meeting to solicit feedback from academic as well as non-academic professionals within the psychology field.