College of Letters and Sciences

DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior, emotion, and thought.  The goals of psychology are to describe, explain, predict, and influence mental and behavioral processes.  Objective observation, experimentation, and quantitative and qualitative analysis are psychologists' tools for achieving these goals.  By expanding and enriching our understanding of how people think, feel and behave, the study of psychology increases and broadens students' understanding of themselves and others, and encourages students to apply this knowledge and understanding appropriately to improve the condition of individuals and society.

Contact us

Elizabeth Olson
Department Chair & Associate Professor
Phone: 262-472-5400
Location: Laurentide Hall 1221

Davin Stavroplos
Department Assistant
Phone: 262-472-1026
Location: Laurentide Hall 1223

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Critical thinking in psychology

A primary goal of the Psychology Department's curriculum is the development of students' ability to think critically.  This essential ability to reason with purpose and to be intellectually curious includes several thinking skills that are useful to students both within their academic coursework as well as their daily lives.  These skills include the following:

  • Identifying and evaluating assumptions
  • Integrating information
  • Considering the validity of sources
  • Evaluating evidence
  • Considering alternative explanations/hypotheses/confounds
  • Communicating valid conclusions that reflect critical thinking
  • Making appropriate inferences
  • Making logical arguments
  • Comparing and contrasting different points of view
  • Problem solving
  • Objectivity

Experiential Courses

The Psychology Department supervises field placements for majors interested in applying their knowledge of psychology to real-world situations for course credit (PSYCH 487).  Students are supervised by both a Psychology Department faculty member and an on-site supervisor.  These experiences provide insight into the types of employment students may achieve with a Bachelor's degree in psychology.  Field Training is also excellent experience for students intending to pursue graduate training in such areas as counseling, clinical psychology, school psychology, and social work.  Field placements include a range of human service agencies, schools, crisis intervention programs and correction facilities.  Students are encouraged to take this course during their junior year.

Nursing Home Visitation Program

An option for placement in Field Training is the Nursing Home Visitation Program.  Students are encouraged to participate in this well-known project founded by a UW-W student and a psychology professor, Dr. Clifford O'Beirne.The N.H.V.P has been a part of UW-Whitewater campus' efforts in community service for over 35 years, and has averaged over 200 hours per week.  This is one of the largest programs in the nation that goes to nursing homes.  To date, UW-W students have made over 175,000 visits to nearby nursing homes.For more information on the Nursing Home Visitation Program.

Independent Study (PSYCH 498, 498R) and Senior Thesis (PSYCH 499) are courses in which students work closely with a faculty member on a research project.  Whether students should have certain background, such as having taken statistics will depend on the specific project.  Students are always encouraged to contact their interested faculty to learn about possible research opportunities.  A good way to get started on accumulating research experience is to volunteer to help with faculty's research if they have never worked with the faculty before.

Students may apply for financial support for their research (e.g., to purchase materials, travel) through the Undergraduate Research Program.  Students who participate in this program will have the opportunity to present their research on UW-Whitewater's Undergraduate Research Day.  Students interested in undergraduate research are encouraged to plan for enrollment in these courses by discussing the possibility with their academic advisor as early as possible.

Students may work with faculty on research in a number of different ways.  Many students opt to take Independent Study (PSYCH 498) in which they work under the direction of a faculty member on research topics that interest them.  These hands-on experiences may include literature review, data collection, analysis, or writing up papers or manuscripts.  Students in the Undergraduate Research Program may enroll in Independent Study - Undergraduate Research (PSYCH 498R).  These courses are repeatable (in combination with one another) for a maximum of 6 units in the major and 12 units in the degree.

Some students choose to complete Senior Thesis projects (PSYCH 499) that involve a faculty advisor and a committee of faculty project reviewers.  Students engage in a critical review or an experimental study of a topic of interest to them under the supervision of an honors thesis committee of the Psychology Department.  The course is repeatable for a maximum of 6 credits in the major and 12 units in the degree.

Matthew E Andrzejewski

Matthew E Andrzejewski

Lecturer 2

Department(s): Psychology

andrzejm@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1228 |

(262) 472-5417

Barbara Rybski Beaver

Barbara Rybski Beaver

Professor, Professor (Ss)

Department(s): Psychology

beaverb@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1233 |

(262) 472-5416

Abby  Biddle

Abby Biddle

Graduate Assistant

Department(s): Psychology

BiddleA25@uww.edu

Caleb  Flack

Caleb Flack


Department(s):

flackc@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1213 |

(262) 472-5410

David A. Havas

David A. Havas

Associate Professor

Department(s): Psychology

havasd@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1226 |

(262) 472-1872

Sasha L Karnes

Sasha L Karnes

Associate Professor, Associate Professor (Sv)

Department(s): Psychology

karness@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1211 |

(262) 472-3037

Amanda L Kidwell

Amanda L Kidwell

Lecturer 1

Department(s): Psychology

KidwellAL28@uww.edu

Kimberly K Knesting

Kimberly K Knesting

Associate Professor, Associate Professor (Ss)

Department(s): Psychology

knestink@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1213 |

(262) 472-5412

James D Larson

James D Larson

Adjunct Instructor

Department(s): Psychology

larsonj@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall |

(262) 472-1026

Anna K Lindell

Anna K Lindell

Associate Professor, Assistant Professor (Sv)

Department(s): Psychology

lindella@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1224 |

(262) 472-1804

Carolyn L Morgan

Carolyn L Morgan

Professor

Department(s): Psychology

morganc@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1235 |

(262) 472-5410

Christine E Neddenriep

Christine E Neddenriep

Professor, Professor (Sv)

Department(s): Psychology

neddenrc@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1229 |

(262) 472-1850

Heather M Niemeier

Heather M Niemeier

Associate Professor, Associate Professor (Sv)

Department(s): Psychology

niemeieh@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1227 |

(262) 472-5418

Clifford W O'Beirne

Clifford W O'Beirne

Lecturer 1

Department(s): Psychology

obeirnec@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1232 |

(262) 472-5414

Elizabeth A Olson

Elizabeth A Olson

Associate Professor, Associate Professor (Sv)

Department(s): Psychology

olsone@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1221 |

(262) 472-5400

Dan  Stalder

Dan Stalder

Professor

Department(s): Psychology

stalderd@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1219 |

(262) 472-5419

Davin R Stavroplos

Davin R Stavroplos

Department Assistant

Department(s): Psychology

StavroplDR21@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1223 |

(262) 472-1026

Krystalyn M Terski

Krystalyn M Terski

Graduate Assistant

Department(s): Psychology

TerskiKM16@uww.edu

Brandon J Thomas

Brandon J Thomas

Assistant Professor

Department(s): Psychology

thomasb@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1207 |

(262) 472-5824

Jiahe  WANG XU

Jiahe WANG XU

Assistant Professor

Department(s): Psychology

wangxuj@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1215 |

(262) 472-1018

Meg A Waraczynski

Meg A Waraczynski

Professor

Department(s): Psychology

waraczym@uww.edu

Upham Hall 368 |

(262) 472-5415

Shen  Zhang

Shen Zhang

Associate Professor

Department(s): Psychology

zhangs@uww.edu

Laurentide Hall 1217 |

(262) 472-5430

There are numerous scholarship opportunities available to students, both through the university, the College of Letters and Sciences and the Psychology Department. To make life a little easier, all of the university's scholarship applications and requirement listings are available online.

  • Larry & Mary Lee Anding Psychology Scholarship
  • Huang-Christner Psychology Scholarship
  • Paula Poorman & Susan Simmons Family Psychology
  • The Amy Krueger Memorial Scholarship
  • Dr. Richard D. Kelley Psychology Scholarship
  • Song Family School Psychology Scholarship
  • Barbara Ann Hersko Scholarship
  • APA Style A brief video on APA style plus UW-W Library links to APA-style guides.
  • Center for Students with Disabilities UW-W Center for Students with Disabilities website.
  • Course Catalog UW-W course catalog listing current course offerings and schedules.
  • Department of Curriculum and Instruction Website of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction for those interested in the Education Program.
  • McNair Program UW-W McNair Program that prepares first-generation and multicultural students for doctoral study.
  • Nursing Home Visitation Program A program founded by a UW-W student and psychology professor, Dr. O'Beirne, in which students volunteer at local nursing homes and aging communities.
  • Project Assist UW-W Center for Students with Disabilities Project Assist program for those in need of academic support.
  • Psi Chi UW-W chapter of the International Honor Society in psychology.
  • Scholarships UW-W scholarships website.
  • APA American Psychological Association website provides a plethora of information for psychology students including APA style writing, career opportunities, a list of graduate programs in psychology, and current events in psychology.
  • APS Association for Psychological Science website provides current psychological articles, publications, and news items.
  • APSSC Association for Psychological Science membership information.
  • Midwest Psychological Association Midwest Psychological Association website.
  • National Association of School Psychologists National Association of School Psychologists for those interested in School Psychology.

Students may gain valuable research experience through the department's research laboratories and research programs dedicated to conducting psychological research.  These labs and programs are typically led by individual faculty members who serve as the "principal investigator" on research studies that are conducted within the lab or program.  It's also typical for the research conducted in labs and programs to have a long-term and specific research focus, such as investigating the mechanisms of reward evaluation in the brain, or the relation between reading fluency and reading comprehension among school children. Involvement in a research lab can confer students with a strong background in a particular and focused field of research. 

Below are details about several labs/programs within the psychology department.  More detail can be obtained by contacting research faculty directly. 

Interested students are advised to have successfully completed both PSYCH 215 (Basic Statistical Methods) and PSYCH 216 (Research Methods), and have Junior standing before applying to join a lab or program. 

Behavioral Neuroscience Research Lab (Dr. Meg Waraczynski)

We study the neural mechanisms of reward evaluation in the mammalian brain.  Specifically, we study how neurochemical manipulations of cells in a structure called the extended amygdala affect rats' evaluation of the reward effect of stimulating the brain's medial forebrain bundle.  Ultimately, we seek to computationally model how cellular activity patterns in the extended amygdala represent the momentary value of a reward in the context of the animal's current internal and external environment.

The work of undergraduate assistants is critical to these goals.  Each semester students in both psychology and the biological sciences assist with animal testing, data analysis, and other related tasks.  Some students earn competitive undergraduate research grants, complete thesis projects, and present their work at professional conferences and in professional journals.  Students also get to know other motivated, curious, hard working students with a variety of interests and gain experience working as part of a team to achieve important goals.  If you would like more information about our lab contact Dr. Waraczynski (waraczym@uww.edu) or any students currently part of our research team. 

School-Based Reading Research (Dr. Christine Neddenriep)

Our research team is interested in looking at the relationship between reading fluency (reading with ease) and comprehension (reading for understanding) in elementary-school children. We are currently working with third-grade students at Washington Elementary School in Whitewater to improve their fluency and comprehension by using a strategy, Reread-Adapt and Answer-Comprehend (RAAC) which has been shown to increase students' speed and accuracy in reading as well as their understanding of fictional text. However, RAAC has not been applied to improving understanding of nonfiction text. Our research team has developed specific comprehension questions to assist students in understanding nonfiction text using the RAAC method. We use single-case, experimental designs (e.g., multiple baseline design across participants) to evaluate the effects of the intervention. We first evaluate the effects of fluency instruction alone on reading speed and accuracy as well as comprehension and then we add the comprehension instruction to determine the relative change in both fluency and comprehension with the addition of comprehension instruction. Our team currently includes one undergraduate student, Shawna Loniello, who is in the Research Apprenticeship Program (RAP) and five graduate students in school psychology.

The Laboratory for Language and Emotion (Dr. David Havas)

The Laboratory for Language and Emotion uses the theory of embodied cognition to explore the relationship between language and emotion.  This lab is specifically interested in how language can evoke strong emotions in people, and also, how emotions impact language comprehension.  Recent research has shown that manipulations of participants' facial expressions of emotion change the speed with which they comprehend emotional sentences.  For example, pleasant sentences are read faster while smiling than while frowning, and vice versa for unpleasant sentences.  This finding helps support theories of embodied cognition, and shows that emotional states interact with sentence understanding.  Students who participate in this lab will be exposed to a variety of research methods, including the use of electrodes and eye tracking equipment.  Please visit the lab's website or contact Dr. Havas (havasd@uww.edu) for more information about this lab.

The Applied Health Psychology Lab (Dr. Sasha Karnes)

The Applied Health Psychology Lab is currently recruiting and enrolling adult patients from Aurora Health Care for a randomized controlled trial. The purpose of the research is to test the effectiveness of a web-based program that is based on motivational interviewing for increasing physical activity. Undergraduate researchers are involved with day-to-day study operations. Specific tasks include gathering and cataloging participant intake information, obtaining informed consent, collecting survey data, and sending intervention materials.

Dr. McCready's Research

Psychology student presents to class.
Psychology Major/Emphasis, Minor
Psychology

Pursuing a degree in psychology will help you learn to understand the social and biological bases of behavior. Students will gain the essential abilities to reason with purpose and will always be intellectually curious, learning critical thinking skills that will be valuable to their careers and daily lives.

A student speaks with an employer at the career fair.
Psychology (Business) Minor
Psychology (Business)

Adding a minor in psychology to your business major is a powerful combination that will equip you to understand people and how and why they think and act.

A student at graduation in their cap and gown.
Psychology (High School Education) Minor
Psychology (High School Education)

Future high school teachers will benefit greatly by adding a minor in psychology to their education major. Enhance your psychological understanding and hone research skills as you prepare to teach and mentor the next generation.

Students gather for a selfie at Commencement.
School Psychology Master's
School Psychology

The School Psychology program is a three-year, full-time sequence of coursework and field experiences that prepares students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become school psychologists. In the second year, students begin the Education Specialist Degree (Ed.S) sequence, known as the practicum year.

Major/Emphasis, Minor

Pursuing a degree in psychology will help you learn to understand the social and biological bases of behavior. Students will gain the essential abilities to reason with purpose and will always be intellectually curious, learning critical thinking skills that will be valuable to their careers and daily lives.

Minor

Adding a minor in psychology to your business major is a powerful combination that will equip you to understand people and how and why they think and act.

Minor

Future high school teachers will benefit greatly by adding a minor in psychology to their education major. Enhance your psychological understanding and hone research skills as you prepare to teach and mentor the next generation.

Master's

The School Psychology program is a three-year, full-time sequence of coursework and field experiences that prepares students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become school psychologists. In the second year, students begin the Education Specialist Degree (Ed.S) sequence, known as the practicum year.