Student-Faculty Collaboration

The Psychology Department provides a number of ways for students – both graduate and undergraduate – to become involved in our faculty’s research. The following examples give some idea of how this collaborative approach to research extends vertically throughout the department.

  • A master’s student working with Professor Burk demonstrated that testosterone administration impairs attention, resulting in a published article. Two undergraduate students helped with the data collection and analysis for this research; collectively, the undergraduates served as coauthors on presentations of this work at the Society for Neuroscience conference and the Undergraduate Neuroscience Symposium.
  • For many years students have worked as members of Professor Galano’s Healthy Families Virginia research team. Virtually all of the undergraduates were paid, and a Master's student was funded through a stipend. To date, a doctoral dissertation, master's thesis, honors project, and several senior research projects have resulted from these student-faculty collaborations.
  • Professor Hunt regularly assigns undergraduate students to help her graduate students collect data. The graduate student trains and supervises the undergraduates, and many times the undergraduate is listed as a coauthor with the graduate student on a publication. In addition to explaining research-relevant material, the graduate students are offer practical advice to the undergraduate students and, in general, teach them about graduate school.
  • Professors Langholtz’s and Ball's book Resource-Allocation Behavior brought together several years of research they had conducted that included six journal articles and professional presentations by two undergraduate and three graduate coresearchers and coauthors. An undergraduate Computer Science major developed the software, and an undergraduate student and Professor Ball analyzed subject responses. One graduate student compared behavior to mathematical models; another examined resource-allocation to achieve fixed goals; and another examined broader social issues of resource-allocation.
  • In Professor Pilkington’s lab, undergraduate, M.A,, and Psy.D. students work together to study applied and theoretical aspects of close relationships. For example, a Psy.D. student conducted her dissertation on aggression in romantic relationships. Her experiment was based on the Honors thesis of a previous undergraduate student and was conducted with the help of two undergraduate research assistants. An M.A. student conducted his thesis research (the impact of safer sex messages in the media on trust in romantic relationships) based in part on three previous Honors theses. A first-year M.A. student analyzed data from a larger project that involved a Psy.D. student and three independent study undergraduate students.
  • Professor Stevens involves both master’s and undergraduate Honors students in work at her Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. These are unique studies that relate to action representation. The result is an integrated and energetic lab that provides a rich and compelling learning environment for the independent study researchers.
  • Professor Thrash is currently conducting research on implicit-explicit motive congruence, inspiration and the writing process, and humor production. Approximately 10 undergraduate Psychology majors per semester assist with data collection and data coding. As part of his research on inspiration and writing, Professor Thrash hired several panels of English majors and graduate students from the American Studies program to evaluate technical aspects of participants’ writing quality and style. Two manuscripts with graduate students as coauthors are in preparation.
  • In Professor Watson’s Clinical Psychology Lab, Psy.D. dissertation students typically work with a team of undergraduates who assist with data collection and entry or play a more central role. For example, two undergraduate Honors students were coauthors on a study of the relation of disordered eating to self-discrepancy, anxiety, and depression; for this research, the undergraduates conducted the first of two studies, which led to the dissertation as a second study.
  • Professor Zeman has graduate and undergraduate students working in her lab, examining children's and adolescents' emotional expressivity and psychosocial functioning. Two graduate students (M.A. and Psy.D.) contribute to the research, along with three undergraduate students. All students attend weekly meetings and are involved in data collection in the public school system, data coding and entry, and data analysis. Results from this study will be presented at international conferences in which the students will be coauthors.