Psych Students Publish Research

What began as a research project for a former student has now evolved and become the defining work for a William Woods University senior involved in the university’s Mentor/Mentee program.

Currently “in press,” Donna Delia and Christy Clark’s paper regarding attachment style research conducted on the WWU campus was accepted for publication in the next edition of the psychology journal, “Explorations in Psychology.” The journal is published by the Mid-South Psychology Conference at Lambuth University.

Last spring, psychology students Delia, a junior at the time, and Clark, a senior, picked up the research of a 2001 WWU graduate, Leah Beth Williamson of Fulton, for their abnormal psychology class.

Under the direction of Marilyn Van Leeuwen, William Woods associate professor of psychology, Delia and Clark compiled Williamson’s collected data for presentation at the Mid-South Psychology Conference at Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn.

Van Leeuwen believes this was “an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students to be engaged in learning experiences outside the traditional classroom.”

Delia, a St. Louis resident, attended the conference last February and presented the gathered information in poster format. The presentation went so well that, according to Van Leeuwen, it “opened up the door for submitting a publication.”

With Clark, who is from Eldridge, Mo., heading the writing process of the paper, the pair submitted the piece, “Coping Strategies and Addictive Behaviors: What is the role of attachment style?” for publication.

The research investigated the tendency that humans have to form and maintain close bonds from infancy and on throughout their lives. Called “attachment style,” the students studied how these trends that were developed at an early age affected adults in their relationships later.

William Woods University’s Mentor/Mentee program provides an opportunity for students to participate in enrichment experiences outside of regular coursework. The program pairs a faculty member and a student for collaborative study, using investigative, research-related exploration.

Van Leeuwen said this type of faculty-student research is unusual for undergraduate students.

“Typically students don’t have the opportunity to work with a faculty member at this level until a master’s thesis level or later. Even then they may not be doing their own research, but rather the faculty member’s work,” she said. “So the unique aspect of this program is the joint nature of the collaborative effort. I really feel that the research belongs to the student and I am just a resource and guide.”

Betsy Tutt, WWU vice president and academic dean, is delighted with the outcome of this project. According to Tutt, “This learning experience is the hallmark of the student-centered education students receive at William Woods University.”