JMU Psychology Projects and Training Opportunities
For more information on the following projects, contact the faculty member listed. Note that this is NOT a comprehensive list of all projects being conducted in the Department of Psychology. You can discover additional projects by:
- reviewing faculty research interests listed on individual faculty pages
- reading about our research facilities
- examining our faculty teaching assistant inventory
- examining our faculty research inventory
Attitudes Toward College Students with Disabilities
Dr. Trice is looking for students interested in the topic of how college students without disabilities view students with disabilities. Specifically he is interested in looking at how "fair" students view the accommodations that students with different disabilities (e.g., ADHD, learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, hearing and vision impairment, etc.) receive. For the fall this would be a 1 credit hour Psyc 203 experience. Students will be encouraged to continue within the general topic and develop a follow-up study of their own in the spring. There will be a weekly lab meeting between 11:15 and 12:05 on Wednesdays. See Ashton Trice (Johnston 209, email@example.com) for more information. His office hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10-11.
Over the last year, boredom has come up in a number of areas: media choice, smoking, sensation seeking and risk taking, school dropout, delinquency, emotional regulation. There is very little research focused on what it is and how it is experienced and what might cause it. Eventually, this project may become an intervention, particularly with high school students. Readings or Research available; 200 or 400 level credit. Weekly meetings. See Ashton Trice (Johnston 209, firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Counseling Center Internship - JMU
Apply now for next semester! The JMU Counseling Center would like to invite junior and senior psychology majors to join them for a semester of learning and practical experience! Join us for PSYC 402 and earn three credits.
- Prepare and co-present workshops on Interpersonal Skill topics. Examples of workshops presented in the past are Self-esteem, Gender Differences in Communication, Assertiveness, Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships, Anger Management, Dealing with Difficult People, Stress Management, and Managing Long-Distance Relationships.
- Prepare and co-present workshops on mental health topics. These topics vary by semester. Examples of past topics are: Body Image & Self-Acceptance, The 411 on Self Injury, Dealing with Depression, How Alcohol Impacts Your Brain & Mental Health, Anxiety – Is this Normal?, Countering Negative Self-Talk, Grief – How to Cope, Sleep for Success and Understanding Destructive Relationships.
- Assist a staff member with a project or research. There may be multiple opportunities for this!
- Assist us with special events and with advertising our programs. Selected examples include attending outreach events with our staff and/or one of our four therapy dogs to advertise our services, helping out at events for National Suicide Prevention Day, the Walk for Hope, our Miniature Therapy Horse outreach event, or National Eating Disorders Week, representing the Counseling Center at events such as Block Party in the Burg, and creating brochures or tri-fold boards.
- Checking students in and out of our relaxation room – the OASIS – which has four massage therapy chairs, diffusers/oils for aromatherapy, yoga mats, and other relaxation items.
- Staffing the STUDIO – our expressive arts therapy room.
- Learn all about the role and functions of a University counseling center.
- Assist in writing posts for our facebook page.
- Attend an all-day Cultural Immersion Field Trip. This is designed to help you gain some diversity awareness by experiencing cultures and religions different than your own. We will process this experience and through discussion and self-examination, you will gain a greater understanding of yourself and be better prepared to be an effective mental health professional.
This is a wonderful way to gain experience in your field! This 402 can be highlighted on your resume or graduate school application. If you would like to apply for this experience, please e-mail Margali Laitem (email@example.com) to request an application.
Discourse, Reading, & Memory (DReaM) Lab
Dr. Upadhyay's research focuses on understanding the cognitive processes that inform reading. Discourse processing - or text and narrative comprehension - involves more than simply understanding the individual words on a page. Our mental representations for what we read build from the smallest units of language to the broadest higher-order representations, and include word and sentence level comprehension, memory, attention, and social and pragmatic information.
Several broad questions guide Dr. Upadhyay's research:
- We know our memory for the information we read is not infinite; what captures our attention as readers?
- Are readers guided by a story character’s experience?
- To what extent does a reader’s “inner voice” reflect a character’s voice?
If these questions intrigue and motivate you, please visit Dr. Upadhyay's website to apply, and complete the DReaM Lab Research Assistant Application via the Google Form.
Students will assist in many aspects of the lab including finding and reading research literature, experimental design, participating in lab meetings, preparing IRB protocols, collecting, analyzing, and presenting data, as well as preparing manuscripts for publication.
- A two-semester commitment
- An interest in cognitive psychology, specifically reading, language, and memory
- Completion of the methodology core
- Completion of PSYC 380 Cognitive Psychology - preferably with Dr. Upadhyay
Increasing Engagement in Large Classes
Interested in teaching? Dr. Lyons is looking for students to join her in investigating student engagement in large classes and student development. Students who participate will have the opportunity to work as either teaching assistants for Psyc 160 or research assistants (There are more places for teaching assistants). This opportunity to work will be of particular value to students who have an interest in college student development and teaching. Teaching assistants need to be available during Dr. Lyons’ lecture times each semester. Teaching assistants will need to have taken Psyc 160. Research assistants will need to have taken Psyc 210. Research assistants will need to have taken Psyc 210. Students will also need to be available for one-hour weekly meetings. Duties involved include: grading student assignments, assisting in the development of class materials, data entry, and data collection. A two-semester commitment from participating students is preferred. Interested students should email Dr. Lyons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Application for the lab.
Motivation Research Institute (MRI)
JMU's Motivation Research Institute (MRI) is seeking students to help support our research and outreach efforts during the 2017-2018 academic year as either a Psyc 203 or 403 experience. If you are interested, please log onto our website at http://mri.cisat.jmu.edu to find out more about our mission, history, and the type of projects that we do. Then if you are still interested, contact Dr. Kenn Barron for a formal application at email@example.com.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Students interested in environment and health are invited to help research the life impacts of Chemical Sensitivity (CS) in a 3 credit hour Psyc 403. Chemical Sensitivity involves allergic-like reactions to common chemicals in the environment. We will meet Monday morning so applicants must have some Monday morning time open. Work will involve reading literature, working on ongoing studies, and creating new survey studies relating to CS, disability, and accommodations. View the types of papers published by this lab. Contact Dr. Pam Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Passion for Activities Lab
Are you passionate about your major? Are most students passionate about their majors? Does being passionate for your major (or for academics in general) have a positive effect on your subjective well-being, on your life satisfaction, and on your likelihood of being successful? These and other related questions are the focus of Dr. Bryan Saville’s research lab. Dr. Saville is looking for several motivated research assistants who are interested in studying passion for activities and how it impacts both subjective (e.g., happiness, subjective well-being) and objective (e.g., performance) outcomes. Students will assist in many aspects of research including designing studies, preparing IRB protocols, collecting and analyzing data, and preparing manuscripts for publication. For more information on this 3-credit Psyc 403 opportunity, or to obtain an application form, please contact Dr. Bryan Saville (email@example.com).
Psychotherapy Research Project
Dr. Ken Critchfield is seeking research students. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and JMU faculty member in the Department of Graduate Psychology. Dr. Critchfield’s research focuses on principles underlying Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (IRT), a psychosocial treatment approach designed to be helpful for psychiatric patients with severe problems, comorbid diagnoses, and repeat/chronic suicidality for whom previous treatment approaches have had little impact. RAs will contribute to the research by watching IRT sessions, generating transcripts from the video-based archive, learning and applying coding systems designed to track key psychotherapy processes, and participating in regular (weekly) lab meetings with Dr. Critchfield and his team. This is a rich opportunity for anyone who may be interested in the mental health professions, psychotherapy research, or for those with interests in the relationship between attachment/interpersonal issues and psychopathology. Professionalism, attention to detail, and protection of patient confidentiality are key attributes of successful RAs. Letters of recommendation for graduate school are offered that will reflect performance, learning, and experience in the lab. Hours are flexible. Interested? Send brief resume and/or letter of interest to Dr. Critchfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social Influence Lab
Dr. Kerr is seeking motivated students to work in her Social Influence Lab during the 2018-2019 academic year. Her current research focuses on two topics: (a) smartphone addiction and distraction, and (b) social disconnection. A two-semester commitment is preferred, but not required. Students will earn 3 credits of PSYC 203 each semester. For more information, please email Dr. Kerr at email@example.com.
Social Relationships Lab
The Social Relationships Lab seeks to understand how relationships with family members, friends, and romantic partners contribute to meaningful qualities of future relationships and individual adjustment. Students will have the option to work from a longitudinal data set containing a multitude of developmental, clinical, and social measures from annual assessments of individuals across ages 13 to 30, and/or a new data set recently collected assessing the impact of online social networking on first-year JMU students' transition to the university.
Current lab interests include (a) how family and peer relationship factors promote healthy vs. unhealthy romantic relationships, (b) how observed peer interactions on social networking websites such as Facebook affect individuals’ friendships and well-being over time, and (c) how individual differences in emotion regulation and coping responses may affect the quality of romantic relationship development and online social relationships. However, data are available to address a wide range of students' interests, and students are encouraged to develop a project that fits with their interests.
Interested students are invited to learn more about the experience on the lab website (https://socialrelationshipslab.weebly.com/), complete an application (downloadable from the website), and to contact Dr. Szwedo (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up a time to discuss their interests and learn more about potential opportunities.
This opportunity is offered as a PSYC 403 experience and as a two-semester sequence, accepting students in the Spring for participation during the next Fall-Spring academic year. It is most appropriate for students who have completed PSYC 211/213 by the start of the experience.
Terror Management Lab
If you are interested in being a part of cutting-edge existential research that utilizes Terror Management Theory (TMT) - a theory concerning the management of death anxiety - as its theoretical framework, Dr. Harvell-Bowman is always looking for a team of students interested in getting involved in this type of research. We have investigated issues such as suicidality, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Paranormal beliefs, Religious beliefs, and various theoretical extensions. There is an interview process in the latter part of each semester for openings in the lab. There are also opportunities to write on the papers and/or present at conferences. For further information, please contact Dr. Lindsey A. Harvell-Bowman, (harve2La@jmu.edu) and check our work out each year at the Psychology Symposium!
Dr. Jeff Andre anticipates needing research assistants for the upcoming semester. He is currently working on a variety of visual perception topics such as the visual guidance of locomotion, eye tracking, and wayfinding. He is also interested in possibly starting new research on how accurately people can interpret data in graphs. An interest in visual perception research and a prerequisite of PSYC 211 are required. Having completed PSYC 375 would be a plus. Research activities include developing/conducting experiments and lab meetings to discuss relevant theoretical topics. PSYC 403 credits are available. A two-semester commitment is preferred but not required. For more information, contact Dr. Jeff Andre (email@example.com, Miller 1163).