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Queen's University

Psychology E-News 2013
Welcome to the December 2013 e-newsletter!

Top Stories:

Department of Psychology to Expand Social Media Presence


We're very excited to announce that we're planning to expand our communication platform in 2014!

As part of our ongoing commitment to connect with alumni, current students, and new students, the Department of Psychology will soon be launching our social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube platforms.

Follow us and stay informed with regular news updates and featured stories. Meet our current graduate students and learn about their exciting research. Find out what our faculty and alumni are up to. And tell us about yourself!

"This initiative reflects the combined efforts of academic and support staff to better communicate with our alumni and friends about the exciting developments in teaching innovation and research excellence that are taking place in the Department of Psychology," said Dr. Richard Beninger, Department Head. "We look forward to continuing to being in touch with all of you and to hearing from you."

Please watch our website and e-newsletters for launch updates!

The Balanced Academy: A Message from Undergraduate Chair, Jill Atkinson

Undergraduate Chair, Jill Atkinson

The Psychology Department complements its research strengths by participating in ongoing efforts to improve the undergraduate student learning experience at Queen’s. One of my roles is to ensure that we are balancing our work on the research front with an equally strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Ideally, there is a synergy between research and teaching. For graduate students who are in small specialized classes and ‘belong’ to labs where much of their training takes place, this synergy is clear. 

When teaching undergraduates, faculty members find themselves in larger classes covering broader areas of the discipline. As highly specialized researchers, it is important for faculty to figure out ways to bring the whole of psychology alive for their students, and to create active, meaningful learning activities outside of their labs. This applies not just in small upper-year labs and seminars where we teach psychology concentrators about our area of expertise, but especially in the large classes in which we teach concentrators and nonconcentrators about the whole of the discipline.

For those of you who went through the undergraduate program when I did, you will recall handling our first rats in PSYC 205 (Learning) and lining up rods with strings stretched down the length of Humphrey Hall in PSYC 215 (Perception). All of our compulsory courses including these experimental courses had labs, and thus all of us had hands-on experience working through classic research studies and discovering psychological phenomena for ourselves.

Over time, as enrolments grew and resources shrank, many of these labs were eliminated and the three-hour lecture was retained. As a result, teaching was often limited to the transmission of material from faculty member to large numbers of students, with little opportunity for engagement.

Now, thanks in part to technology and in part to a better understanding of the importance of active learning for retention, we are bringing back hands-on learning. We are also working to better align course activities with the skills and knowledge that we want our students to have years after they have graduated. While they may not remember how to calculate an F-test, they will hopefully remember when and why random assignment and large numbers are important and how to decide if a claim in the media should be trusted or not.

From PSYC 100 up to PSYC 501 (formerly 500), changes have taken place. In future newsletters, I look forward to describing some of our teaching innovations and introducing you to the people involved in them. This Teaching and Learning in Psychology series will feature interviews with regular and adjunct faculty, as well as our Teaching Fellows, grad student TAs and undergraduate facilitators.


Promoting Science in the Community (Developmental Psychology Area)

Child building brain model

For the last few years, a Saturday in May has been dedicated to “Science Rendezvous” in cities across Canada. In Kingston, the members of our Developmental Psychology program (known as the “Child and Adolescent Development Group” within the broader community) have worked closely with organizers in the Queen’s Faculty of Education to create an interactive science showcase geared toward children of all ages. In May 2013, our display was one of 50 hands-on science activities visited by over 2500 child and parent attendees in the city’s downtown arena (The K-Rock Centre). Our activity was designed to teach children about brain development through realistic models of the brain and a game that illustrated the importance of the frontal lobe, the largest part of the human brain and one that takes the longest to develop.

Science Rendezvous has become an important event for us; the Developmental Psychology faculty members, along with graduate and undergraduate students, have made engagement in science outreach an important part of our program. Our motivations are twofold: to promote better understanding of psychology as a science, and to give back to the Kingston community that has made our research possible by volunteering as participants in our studies for many years.

Through other activities in the community, our focus on science outreach extends throughout the year. Our students visit over 15 parent-infant groups that meet at the Ontario Early Years Centres, and we attend several seasonal festivals and events in Kingston. (A favorite for the students has been an event held at a local pick-your-own strawberry field!) A science-themed camp on the Queen’s campus, Science Quest, has invited us to create an hour-long, interactive class on attention and brain development. At some events, we join other programs in our Department; together with members of the Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science program, we take part in the annual Brain Awareness Day for grade 5 and 6 students, showcasing research in neuroscience.

Taking a cue from Dr. Wendy Craig, a professor in Developmental and Clinical Psychology at Queen’s who is a co-founder of PREVNet (a network of researchers and nonacademic organizations promoting healthy relationships for youth:, we have recently enhanced our online presence. Through Facebook and Twitter, we are able to reach parents, teachers, and students to share recent findings from our laboratories and others in the field of Developmental Psychology. 

At a time when there is an increasing need to engage children in science, we hope that these activities will get children interested in psychological science by introducing some of the important questions, methodologies, and applications.

For those who are interested, the Child and Adolescent Development Facebook and Twitter posts are public--an account is not necessary to view them.  



Department of Psychology Update: Computer Teaching Lab H219

Computer Lab H219

Over the last two summers we have upgraded our teaching computer lab in Humphrey 219. This project was split into two phases, and had an overall upgrade cost of $25,000. Upgrades included in both phases of the project plan were 28 new desktop computers, new 20" LCD widescreen monitors, a new presenter podium, new projector, new projector screen, and new built-in retractable audio/video cable enclosure at the teaching station. The new workstations and teaching podium provided a professional environment with an emphasis on better ergonomics and ease of use! Hats off to the Psychology Technical Staff for their excellent work.


Alumni Report: Mitch Andriesky, Arts'53, and Wilda Andriesky, Arts'59

The Queen’s University Alumni Association is honouring Mitch Andriesky, Arts'53, and Wilda Andriesky, Arts'59, with the Branch Marsha Lampman Award. This award is presented annually to an alumnus/a who best exemplifies outstanding service and dedication as an ambassador on behalf of Queen's.

The Andrieskys have been tireless Queen’s supporters for many years. Together, they established the Mitchell and Wilda Andriesky Award to provide financial support for graduate students in the Queen’s Department of Psychology. Our students in the past have benefitted from this generous support, some of our current students are recipients of the Mitchell and Wilda Andriesky Award, and future students will benefit from this valuable scholarship. Mitch has volunteered with the Kingston Branch for years, and is also very involved in student recruitment for Queen’s. Wilda has been instrumental in finding speakers for the Kingston Seniors’ events.

The Andrieskys will all be honoured at the QUAA Alumni Awards Gala in April 2014. They are among the most generous benefactors of the Department of Psychology and very deserving of this recognition.

Read the award citation here:

Feel free to contact Alumni Relations communications officer Michael Onesi (613-533-6000 ext. 78063, if you would like more information.


Association of Graduate Students in Psychology AGSIP

Association of Graduate Students in Psychology photos

A warm and excited welcome to the incoming psychology students! AGSIP looks forward to having you in our Department. We are a fun group of students who work hard and play hard. So far this year, we’ve shared great food at the Welcome Potluck and at the Whine, Wine and Cheese, where we took the opportunity to catch up with old friends and welcome new ones. AGSIP also hosted a memorable Psychology Trivia Night where professor and graduate student teams fiercely battled to win exciting prizes.

The AGSIP events for this academic year are far from over. The Winter Term will bring movie nights, a casino night, and weekly post-colloqium get-togethers at the Grad Club. Overall we're looking forward to continuing a great year filled with memorable activities and events!


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000