James Madison University

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:

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, tricead@jmu.edu) for more information.  His office hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10-11.

Cultural and Racial Diversity Studies (CARDS) Lab


The Cultural and Racial Diversity Studies Lab (CARDS Lab) is looking for motivated psychology majors to join the lab.  PSYC 203 credit is available.  Students should have completed (or will be completing) the research methods/statistics sequence before applying to lab.  Information about the lab is posted on the Facebook page for the group: JMU Cultural and Racial Diversity Studies Lab.  For any questions or a copy of the application, email Dr. Lee (leemr@jmu.edu), or stop by Miller 1155.

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 walking Francis (our therapy dog) around campus to advertise our services, helping out at events for National Suicide Prevention Day, the Walk for Hope, 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.
  • 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 Kara Michelle Karr (karrkm@jmu.edu) to request an application.

Counseling Center Leadership in Mentoring Underrepresented Students


Fall Semesters Only. The Counseling Center would like to invite sophomore, junior, and senior multicultural students to join them for a semester of learning and practical experience in mentoring first-year and transfer multicultural students! Join us for Psyc 202 and earn one course credit. Please note, this course is open to ALL majors.

  • Learn leadership and mentorship skills through in-class discussions and hands-on experience.
  • Meet weekly, one-on-one, with mentee(s) to build a positive relationship as you help first-year and transfer multicultural students adjust to life at JMU.
  • Participate in planning and implementing various activities (e.g., academic, social, service) for mentors and mentees.

This course is a wonderful way to gain valuable leadership skills and give back to the JMU community by helping underrepresented students make a smooth transition to JMU. This is also a great experience that can be highlighted on your resume. If you would like to apply for this experience, please e-mail Dr. Sylvia Hanna (hannass@jmu.edu) to request an application.

Educational Assessment


Dr. Keston Fucher and doctoral student Kristen Smith are looking for students who are interested in higher education research, educational assessment, teaching, and student learning improvement. If you are interested in applying your research methodology skills through hands-on experiences, connecting assessment processes to teaching and learning, and working with fellow students to collect data related to teaching and learning, then we welcome you to join our research team! As part of this team, students will learn about assessment, pedagogy, and curricular alignment, in addition to collecting implementation data and student learning assessment data from other students enrolled in various courses across campus.  There will be a two-hour weekly lab meeting on Wednesdays (most likely from 12PM-2PM). Please email Kristen Smith (smith4kl@jmu.edu) for more information.

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 lyonscw@jmu.edu.

Motivation Research Institute (MRI)


JMU’s Motivation Research Institute (MRI) is seeking a number of undergraduate students to help support our research and outreach efforts during the 2016-2017 academic year as 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 barronke@jmu.edu.   While most students will start in the Fall semester, there is a possibility that students could begin over the summer.

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 gibsonpr@jmu.edu 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 (savillbk@jmu.edu).

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 critchkl@jmu.edu.

Social Relationships Lab (Fall 2016 & Spring 2017)


The Social Relationships Lab seeks to understand how social 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, social, and adjustment measures from annual assessments of individuals from 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 contact Dr. Szwedo (szwedode@jmu.edu) for a lab application and 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. It is most appropriate for students who have completed PSYC 211/213 by the start of the experience. 

Summer Practicum in a Community Shelter


Dr. Gibson has available several summer practicum placements in local shelters for summer 2016. Students enroll in a 3 credit Psychology 402 and contribute 120 hours under the supervision of an agency expert.  Students work 10 hours per week for 12 weeks and the experience counts as an upper level elective. In past years students have worked with homeless individuals and families, adolescents in detention, and near homeless people in Harrisonburg and Staunton. In addition, we hold class once weekly and students complete a number of relevant written assignments. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Pam Gibson at gibsonpr@jmu.edu. You will be asked to submit a short application, a resume, and 2 recommendation letters from faculty or work supervisors.

Terror Management Lab


If you are interested in being a part of cutting-edge existential research that utilizes Terror Management Theory (TMT) as its theoretical framework, Dr. Harvell-Bowman is looking for a team to run her lab studies on the following research:  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and TMT, a replication study on death salience and time delays, and a study on apologia and death salience. There are always opportunities to write on the papers and/or present at conference.  For further information on any of the current projects or for TMT or general social psychology studies you are interested in collaborating with, please contact Dr. Lindsey A. Harvell-Bowman, (harve2La@jmu.edu).

Teaching Assistant for the Tutoring Program


Students will assist with making contacts with parents, teachers, and foster parents of children in the program. The assistant locates, updates, and maintains teaching resources for the tutors. After 1 semester of working as a Psyc 202 Teaching Assistant, students are eligible to be hired by the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter Grant. More information. Contact Joann Grayson with any questions (graysojh@jmu.edu).

Visual Perception


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 (andrejt@jmu.edu, Miller 1163).

Writing about Psychology for the Public


Have you ever learned about a psychology study and thought, "I wish everyone could know about this?" Ever read an article about psychology in the popular press and bristled at some of the inaccuracies it contained?  Professor Jaime Kurtz is looking for strong writers with an interest in honing their skills while also learning how to better explain psychological science to the public. As a group, we will focus on the differences between writing for an academic audience versus for a lay audience. We will study principles for writing concisely and with precision. We also will critique how psychological science is conveyed in the popular press. For a final project, students will work with Dr. Kurtz on a blog post for Psychology Today that will explain a specific topic to the public in a way that is interesting, useful, and accurate. If you have questions or would like an application, contact Dr. Kurtz at kurtzjl@jmu.edu. Applicants are also required to submit a writing sample via email.