Psychology rewarded with University-wide Departmental Teaching Award

Apr 22nd, 2010 | By | Category: April 22, 2010, Employee News

The Department of Psychology has been setting the standard among its peers for 120 years.

It offered what was most likely the earliest formal instruction in psychology west of the Mississippi River. It established the first psychological laboratory dedicated to training undergraduates.

Members of the Department of Psychology stand on the steps of Morrill Hall. The department received the University-wide Departmental Teaching Award. Craig Chandler|University Communication

Its highly regarded annual Symposium on Motivation was the first and is the longest running conference on psychology in the world. And its Law-Psychology program, established in 1974, was the first dual-degree program of its kind.
Faculty, graduate students and staff have received more than 60 teaching awards and recognitions since 2000, creating an esprit de corps that touches every member of the department.

This spring the department added to its impressive list of accolades, receiving a University-wide Departmental Teaching Award.

The UDTA originated in 1993 and is designed to recognize a department or unit within the University of Nebraska that has made unique and significant contributions to the university’s teaching efforts. The honored department receives $25,000 to be used in a manner the department sees fit, such as for travel to a conference, instructional equipment or improvements to a classroom or student resource center.

“The department has a great record of teaching, numerous teaching awards, and also many innovations in teaching,” said David Manderscheid, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Everybody in the department cares about teaching. It’s a part of the culture, it’s a part of the fabric of the department.”

The psychology department is one of the university’s most wide-ranging, attracting students who major in psychology as part of general liberal arts education as well as students who intend to pursue graduate work in fields such as psychology, dentistry, law, education, social work, medicine, physical therapy or religion. At the time of its nomination, the department included 26 faculty, 34 graduate teaching assistants and 801 undergraduate majors.

Psychology is the largest undergraduate major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the second largest at UNL. Despite its size, the department is known for providing students with personal attention and hands-on research and clinical experience, even at the undergraduate level.

“One of the many areas the department excels at is involving undergraduate students in research,” said Dave Hansen, professor of psychology and department chair. “We have very active labs that incorporate undergraduates; they can get involved collecting and encoding data and doing a variety of tasks. They work as UCARE students, do honors theses, present their work at conferences, and in some cases publish their work.”

This experience is valuable as students prepare for graduate school or next steps in their careers. Undergraduate students in the psychology department are regular recipients of prestigious scholarships and awards, such as Chancellor’s and McNair scholarships and Mortarboard and Innocents honor societies. They are routinely accepted into the country’s top graduate programs.

Psychology graduate students at UNL have received more than 100 major internal and external recognitions since 2005.
“We have a terrific graduate program with top-notch students from all over the country, and around the world,” Hansen said. “We have a variety of programs in place to help bring them along as teachers. One of the big reasons we won this award is their dedication to teaching and mentoring undergraduate students.”

Additionally, graduate students and departmental faculty engage in a junior colleague model of mentoring. Students work closely and collaboratively with faculty, and receive guidance in developing their career and shaping their research interests.

Story by Sara Gilliam | University Communications

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