Cerritos College Psychology Department Pushes Beyond the Status Quo
For Immediate Release: November 2, 2007
Media Contact:Allison Abel, Public Affairs, (562) 860-2451 ext. 7878
Kimberley Duff, chair of the psychology department at Cerritos College, believes it’s never too early for students to do research that matters. While most students presenting their research findings at national conferences are graduate students, Duff has encouraged her community college students and alumni to jump in and give their seniors a run for their money—with impressive results.
Duff’s research methods class provides students with a launching pad to start in on their research. Two of her former students, Patty Singim and Fabiola Castro, began research on gender interpretations of sexist jokes while taking this class. They were able to continue their research on the topic after transferring to California State University, Long Beach, and presented their findings at conferences of the Western Psychological Association (WPA) in both 2006 and 2007.
“A lot of professors came up and talked to us about our research,” said Singim. “They were impressed with what we found.”
Maria Cosio, another of Duff’s former students who recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach and now is one of her teaching assistants, accompanied Duff to the 2007 WPA conference in Vancouver, Canada last spring. The two presented the results of a project undertaken by Duff during a recent sabbatical.
“Students were surprised that we were able to do research like this at a community college,” said Cosio. “The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive.”
The presentation, entitled “Development of a Multi-Media Website for Mentoring Students in Research,” explained a Web site Duff developed and now uses for her psychology students, in which they can connect over the Internet with former Cerritos College psychology students as well as access valuable information related to their major. The positive results Duff and Cosio presented were so compelling that “other faculty were interested in doing similar Web sites for their students and alumni,” said Cosio.
Another presentation made at the conference by Duff and Cosio, along with former student and now part-time Cerritos College psychology instructor April Thames, detailed the success the college has had in offering tutorials to its psychology students.
“We’ve been offering a tutorial to our psychology students for several years,” said Duff. “The tutorial is a great chance for students to come and work on projects together, making learning a more collegial process.”
The benefits were numerous, according to the group’s findings; students who attended tutorial sessions tended to perform better on exams, were more motivated to transfer and pursue careers in psychology, and were more likely to present their research at conferences.
“At the tutorials, students receive aid as they prepare for presentations, participating in and presenting at conferences,” says Cosio, who is addition to serving as a teaching assistant also helps facilitate the tutorials. A case in point of the tutorials’ success is Cosio herself, who says they were a key part of her time as a student at Cerritos College and played a large role in preparing her for the presentations she’s made at WPA.
“Before the tutorials, we only had one or two students per year presenting research at conferences,” said Duff. “After we began offering the sessions, the numbers have increased dramatically—recently, we had 17 students present at a conference.”
Duff says the more students that take advantage of the opportunity, the better. “When students attend professional conferences, they get the chance to experience psychology as a career. They also have an amazing opportunity to network with faculty at four-year institutions, which may lead to future jobs in the labs of faculty members when students transfer. By presenting at conferences, students are able to apply what they learn in the classroom and hone their communication skills by sharing their findings with psychologists.”
As a teacher, few things are more gratifying to Duff than to watch her students have such success. “Seeing our students have their work accepted through the review process is a testament to all of their hard work, and it reflects the quality of education that our students receive at Cerritos,” she says.
Cerritos College serves as a comprehensive community college for southeastern Los Angeles County. Communities within the college’s district include Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, La Mirada, Norwalk, and portions of Bell Gardens, Lakewood, Long Beach, Santa Fe Springs and South Gate. Cerritos College offers degrees and certificates in more than 180 areas of study in nine divisions. Annually, more than 1,200 students successfully complete their course of studies, and enrollment currently surpasses 20,000 students. Visit Cerritos College online at www.cerritos.edu.