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Experiential Learning in Psychology

While much learning takes place in our classrooms, students are encouraged to apply that learning outside the classroom. There are a variety of opportunities to do this in the Psychology major at Shepherd:

Psychology major capstone

Every major at Shepherd includes a capstone experience during their senior year in which they have the opportunity to pull together and apply what they’ve learned in that major. A unique feature of the Psychology capstone at Shepherd is that our students design and carry out an independent research project on a psychological topic of their choice. This gives them an opportunity rarely afforded to psychology majors elsewhere to put what they’ve learned about the science of psychology in action. During this process, they learn numerous useful, marketable skills such as project management, communicating ideas in writing and speaking, ethical decision making, finding and managing information, data-based decision making, etc.

Community Engagement

Some of our courses combine the classroom learning experience with opportunities for hands-on application. For example, students in Dr. Dobish’s PSYC 342 Adolescent Development mentor area middle school children during a day-long campus visit while applying what they’ve learned in the classroom. Students in Dr. Dobish’s PSYC 343 Psychology of Aging engage with local older adults on relevant topics with the SAIL (Shepherdstown Area Independent Living) community and with Shepherd University’s Lifelong Learning programs.

Clinical internships

Students interested in careers in clinical psychology can see what it’s like to work in a clinical setting by taking PSYC 313 Clinical Practicum. Students make arrangements to intern at local mental health facilities and also get to reflect on their experiences during once-weekly group meetings.

Research assistantships

All Psychology majors get to experience the process of doing psychology research during their senior capstone project. Those who would like additional research experience are encouraged to contact individual faculty members and ask about helping with their ongoing research projects. You may earn credits by registering for either PSYC 211 Faculty Led Research or PSYC 312 Research Practicum. (Your faculty mentor will tell you which to sign up for.)

Study Abroad in Psychology

Periodically, the Psychology faculty will direct study abroad experiences in which travelers get to experience not only what it’s like to travel internationally, but also the impact of culture on behavior by experiencing other cultures. Past trips have focused on the history of psychology in Europe by traveling to London and Paris. A trip focused on the social psychological impact of the Holocaust is in the planning stages.

Cooperative education

Psychology majors who have a job in which some component is related to psychology may register for PSYC 392 Co-operative Education in Psychology. You’ll be able to reflect on how you apply your psychology education to your work and earn credits in the process! Start by finding a Psychology faculty member willing to supervise you and work with them to establish the requirements for the class. Contact Shepherd’s Cooperative Education Office for more information.