Life-Span Developmental Psychology
WVU’s Psychology Department received the Innovation in Graduate Education Award from the American Psychological Association in recognition of the junior-colleague model used to train graduate students in research, teaching, and program/service evaluation. Graduate training is seen as modeling and instruction in a variety of professional skills and roles, only some of which are acquired in the classroom. As junior colleagues, students and faculty collaborate in research, rather than students serving as research assistants assigned to individual faculty. Students develop individualized plans of study. Contact among faculty and students outside the classroom is frequent and casual.
HISTORY. WVU has an illustrious history in life-span development as the first program in this field. Our program continues to provide in-depth training to the next generation of life-span developmental psychologists. Graduates are highly successful in obtaining employment and find positions in academia, government, research institutions, foundations, and applied settings.
TRAINING. The Ph.D. in developmental psychology at West Virginia University combines breadth of training in a variety of perspectives on normal development across the life span with depth and rigor of training in an area of specialization selected by the student. The program is designed to train disciplined researchers who are also skilled classroom instructors.
RESEARCH TRAINING. Research training can occur in a variety of laboratory or applied settings with a variety of age ranges; the research is conducted on a topic of the student’s choice, insofar as possible, supervised by and in collaboration with one or more faculty members. Initially, faculty provide a high degree of structure and guidance that is tailored to the students’ entry-level research design and data analysis skills. By the end of training, students have developed a research specialty and can successfully design and execute all stages of a research project (e.g., data collection, analysis, dissemination of findings). Students attend professional conferences and present their research to regional, national, and international audiences. Students submit their work for publication in scholarly journals and books. The department and college provide funds to support student research and travel to conferences. Funding via research assistantships is often available.
TEACHING TRAINING. Graduate students receive structured, supervised, hands-on teaching experience. Students become proficient in a variety of teaching technologies and methods. When teaching for the first time, students enroll in a teaching seminar and learn lecture strategies, best practices for encouraging active learning, leading discussions, classroom management, assessing student learning, and ethical issues. Students create a teaching portfolio and write a teaching philosophy. Students rapidly develop high-quality teaching skills within a single semester. Upon graduation, most students have taught one or more of the following courses: introduction to human development, introduction to social psychology, introduction to psychology, and/or research methods. Advanced graduate students may design and deliver a course in their specialty area. Funding via teaching assistantships is always available.
CURRICULUM. The developmental program is organized so that breadth is obtained through courses in advanced conceptual and methodological issues in life-span developmental psychology, infancy, child development, adolescent and young-adult development, and adulthood and aging. Specialization occurs through research, elective courses, and elective topical seminars. In addition, developmental faculty and first-year students participate in a Professional Development Seminar, developmental faculty and advanced students participate in an advanced Professional Development Seminar, and developmental faculty and all students in the program participate in a Developmental Research Lunch Group. The Developmental Research Lunch Group meets approximately every other week for student and faculty presentations and a brown bag lunch.<< Back to Doctoral Programs
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