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Psychology Community Engagement

The Department of Psychology’s mission statement says that “the department encourages meaningful faculty and student participation in the community”. In addition to  numerous opportunities for experiential learning, below are some examples of how our students and faculty engage with the local community. Collectively, such experiences help students to see how what they’re learning in class can be applied outside the classroom and also expose community members to Shepherd’s educational activities within the department.

Students Mentor Adolescents

Shepherd students enrolled in Dr. Dobish’s PSYC 342 Adolescent Psychology class mentor adolescent 7th graders from local middle schools during a day-long campus visit while applying what they’ve learned in the classroom. The middle school children get a firsthand look at what it is like to attend college while Shepherd students get the opportunity to observe some of the variables that affect adolescent development. Shepherd students also provide information, guidance and encouragement for education. The highlight of the day is eating in the dining hall and ends with a pep rally in the midway!

Students Engage With Older Adults

As part of Dr. Dobish’s PSYC 343 Psychology of Aging course, Shepherd students engage in community discussions with older adults from the surrounding community. These discussions are a service-learning, intergenerational, classroom experience in which younger and older adults interact to share their thoughts, opinions, and lived experience on selected topics. Shepherd students interact with SAIL (Shepherdstown Area Independent Living) and Shepherd’s Lifelong Learning members.

Students Practice Deliberative Dialogue

Students who enroll in a special topics course on Leadership WITH Deliberation co-taught by Dr. Heidi Dobish and Magistrate John Unger learn the skills of deliberative dialogue. Deliberative Dialogue brings people together in order to find common ground between participants. These dialogues also respectfully address the differences between people in order to find a solution to a common problem, one that impacts everyone.  The students in the class practice how to create a structured discussion on an issue selected by the class and the community. By utilizing their skills in leadership, communication, and civic engagement, they lead community members through a deliberative dialogue to find the best course of action for the problem.

Dinner with strangers

In 2018, three Psychology majors, along with some students from Social Work, dined at the home of Paul and Diane Kradel as part of President Hendrix’s “Dinner With Strangers” initiative, which presents a unique opportunity to bring members of the Shepherdstown community together with our fabulous students.

Annual Aging Well Workshop

For the past twelve years, Shepherd University has received a $2500 grant from the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services for its annual Aging-Well Workshop. The Nursing, Psychology, and Social Work departments host the event with Dr. Heidi Dobish serving as committee chair. The Aging-Well Workshop’s primary mission is to promote graceful aging and to focus on the well-being of elders. The workshop strives to enrich the lives of elders and their families while promoting inter-generational connections and offering useful knowledge and creative practice interventions for professionals. It also provides continuing education credits for nurses and social workers. Speherd students are welcome to attend the workshop for free. Any student in the Aging Studies Minor is welcome to serve on the committee. Please contact Dr. Dobish for more information  (hdobish@shepherd.edu).

Seeding your future workshop

Dr. Sytil Murphy, associate professor of physics, created Seeding Your Future to inspire young girls to consider going into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Her hope was that “girls would walk away with a love of STEM and an appreciation that it’s fun and interesting and something they can do.” Shepherd students run workshops and are group leaders, escorting the middle school students around. This gives participants the chance to interact with the college students, who are studying in STEM fields. Psychology faculty, Drs. Dobish, Levitan, and Lovelace, have conducted sessions at this annual event hoping to inspire interest in the sciences.

Dual enrollment

Students in local high schools have the opportunity to learn from Shepherd University Department of Psychology faculty by enrolling in Shepherd’s dual-enrollment program. Department instructors, notably Dr. Heidi Dobish, offer sections of PSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology to eligible high school students in Berkeley County and Jefferson County in West Virginia and also St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown, Maryland at the Shepherd’s Martinsburg Center. This program allows the students to receive college and high school credits simultaneously.