Kristi Henderson
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Psychology department wins undergraduate advising award

Wed, 11/30/2011

LAWRENCE – The Department of Psychology at the University of Kansas has been recognized for outstanding undergraduate advising.

The department is the recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Undergraduate Advising Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The award is given to honor a College department or program for exemplary work to improve advising at KU.

“I am constantly impressed with the advising that takes place across the College,” said Dean Danny J. Anderson. “This award gives us the opportunity to identify especially creative and effective advising methods that can serve as useful models for other units. I am glad to recognize the Department of Psychology for their efforts.”

The psychology department is one of the largest units in the College. In order to enhance advising for its large number of undergraduate majors, the department has taken two approaches: an advising requirement for all faculty and the development of unique methods and technological innovations.

The advising requirement sets up a system of shared advising in the department that allows faculty to have one-on-one contact with more students than one adviser could possibly reach. Faculty are required to have five hours of undergraduate drop-in advising during the advising period each semester.

The psychology department’s innovation in advising was also noteworthy to the awarding committee. The department has developed a mandatory online orientation seminar for majors that prepares them to succeed in and beyond the major. The department has noticed an improvement in students’ ability to plan for the requirements of their coursework and in their knowledge of the major as a result of PSYC 102: Orientation Seminar in Psychology.

The seminar provides students with information about careers and opportunities in the field and about planning their college courses and experiences to meet those goals. More than 1,400 undergraduates have taken the course since its adoption. To judge the effectiveness of the course, the department collects essays from students before and after the course in which students write about their knowledge and expectations for the major and psychology careers. The department’s assessment has found that the course elevates the students’ coursework planning and understanding of the major from novice to near expert level.

The orientation course has been identified by the Strategic Planning Advising subgroup in the College as a potential model for advising throughout the university because of its documented success and the efficiency of the approach in handling a large number of students.

The department has also partnered with the University Career Center to launch the Psychology Undergraduate Resource Center, which consists of a drop-in advising center in Fraser Hall and an online resource center on Blackboard available to majors and premajors who have completed PSYC 102. The resource center opened in spring 2011.

The amount of the award is $1,000. The award is made possible by the support of College alumni to KU Endowment.

The Department of Psychology is part of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. More than 60 percent of KU students are enrolled in a major in the College, making it the largest academic unit on campus.

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