Meet Carrie Switzer
- B.A. Psychology, McPherson College
- M.Ed. Research Methodology, University of Pittsburgh
- Ph.D. Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
- I originally wanted to be a special education teacher. I was a counselor at a summer camp for kids who were mentally challenged, and I met another counselor there who encouraged me to go to McPherson College in Kansas. When I got there, I
realized the only classes I wanted to take were the psychology classes, so I switched to psychology. I thought I wanted to be a counselor and go into private practice, but thankfully I didn’t go straight into graduate school with that in mind. Instead, I worked at a county crisis line for three years, training people to take calls, and also taking calls myself. Doing that made me realize that I did not want to counsel people. I decided that I wanted to teach. So when I went to graduate school, my plan was to become a professor.
- I grew up in a town of 300 people. In the last year, I’ve been to Spain, Hawaii, and Puerto Vallarta. I love to travel and I’m finally
at a point where I can do that. When I got back from a trip to Spain, I decided I wanted to take a Spanish class. It was me and five freshmen, so I had some incentive to do well. I passed, and I’m taking Spanish II in the fall.
- Lynn Pardie, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Education, and I designed our capstone course to evaluate whether or not students are mastering the American Psychological Association’s ten learning goals that they set up for undergraduate psychology majors. Over the last four years, I’ve been collecting data on that and I’m going to present it at the American Psychological Association convention this August.
Major project underway:
- I want to start looking into the barriers for women who are nontraditional students coming to higher education. I want to look at the things that prevent them from coming and whether there are different personality traits for women who do come back as opposed to women who don’t go beyond the high school education level.
- I try to have students collaborate on a topic in each class. When I was an undergraduate student, I hated just sitting and listening to the professor because there are so few people who are really that interesting for that long, some are, but that’s rare. So I do some lecturing, but then I show a video clip or something illustrating the concept, and then I have students get together in small groups each class period to do assignments applying the concept. I think it’s important for them to be able to see how the theories and concepts that we’re talking about apply to real life. I try to help them see practical ways that psychology can be used.
- Sheryl Reminger, another professor in the Psychology Department, and I have helped with the costumes for three of the UIS plays. We go to the dress rehearsals and are backstage during the performances. It allows us to interact with students in a different way than when we are in the classroom.
Advice for prospective students:
- For any student, the thing I found the most useful as an undergraduate was volunteering to help faculty on projects. It’s particularly good for students to take advantage of the AST opportunity. It’s different to think about what a job might be like as opposed to experiencing it. The more practical experience students get in the area they want to go into, the better off they’ll be once they get out there.
Best thing about UIS:
- You get the best of both worlds here. Instructors have come here because they like to teach and they are good at it, but unlike smaller schools where the teachers are very focused on teaching, here the teachers are also expected to be scholars with active research areas. So students are exposed to people who are good teachers but who also have active research projects. Sometimes at bigger universities you have people who are the research one researchers, but they are not necessarily good teachers and they are not necessarily teaching. Here, you’re getting a combination of people who are good at both and who do both.
Best thing about the Psychology program:
- We’re focused on getting undergraduate students involved in faculty research projects and having students do their own research projects. We have several students every year who go and present at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference and the UIS Research Symposium who are doing their own work, which helps them get into graduate school. That’s not counting the students who help faculty as research assistants. I feel that is a strength of our program—we’re not so big that students don’t have a chance to participate; we can expose them to hands on research that is valuable for their future education.