By Phyllis Erdman
Interim Dean

When she started Washington State University’s doctoral program in counseling psychology, it hadn’t occurred to Ciara Christensen that she would end up studying hypnosis. But there she was at WSU’s 2010 Academic Showcase, in front of a research poster titled “Effects of an Affect Bridge for Age Regression,” explaining the value of hypnosis in treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

I wonder if the showcase visitors who chatted with Ciara about hypnosis were surprised to see that she and her faculty co-author, Professor Arreed Barabasz, were listed among the twenty College of Education researchers present.  Many people are unaware that our researchers delve into subjects outside the realm of classroom education.

Sometimes even I am surprised by the breadth of our research. Below are just a few examples gleaned from the presentation abstracts of the Academic Showcase in Pullman, the annual spring event at which WSU researchers explain their work. (Our college was also represented at WSU’s  Vancouver’s Research Showcase.)

“Nice at Work in the Academy.”  The guiding question in Associate Professor Pamela Bettis’ study was: How do women academics, particularly those in research-oriented institutions, make sense of the concept of “nice” in their work lives? The 28 women interviewed all spoke to its powerful presence. Some worried about what might be construed as overly aggressive behaviors. They told of losing jobs or receiving low performance evaluations because they displayed too much or too little niceness. Dr. Bettis’ analysis revealed how, in her words, “the tightrope of appropriate femininity remains taut in a supposedly post-feminist era.”

“Legality of the LPGA’s Proposed English Proficiency Rule.” Professor Cathryn Claussen analyzed a 2008 attempt by the Ladies Professional Golf Association to impose a regulation requiring its international players to demonstrate basic proficiency in the English language. Dr. Claussen is a nationally recognized expert in sport law. She concluded that the language proficiency rule did not constitute discrimination that violated the Civil Rights Act, but she suggested changes in U.S. law that would remedy such situations.

“Preservice Teachers’ Perspectives on Characteristics of Effective Teachers and Successful Students.”  In the kind of research that helps shape our academic programs, Professors Tariq Akmal and Darcy Miller found that there are significant moments in a teacher preparation program when student beliefs appeared to change.  They found that the future teachers were nurturing, but also believed in the importance of strong professionalism and teaching skills. Classroom field experiences shifted the students from certain theoretical knowledge (research-based learning) to more narrative knowledge (practice-based/teacher-based learning). 

“Physical Activity across the Transition to Washington State University.” Assistant Professor Sarah Ullrich-French surveyed freshmen before they arrived at WSU, and halfway through their first semester, to determine which factors inspired them to exercise.  The survey asked about external influences (coaches, parents, teammates) and internal motivation.  Students reported that both their motivation and time spent exercising declined once they were on campus. Self-motivated students were more likely to continue their workouts.  The study, co-authored by Matthew Bumpus, assistant professor of human development, is a good example of the College of Education’s interdisciplinary research efforts.

To appreciate the broad spectrum of excellent work that goes on at the College of Education, I encourage you to browse our online list of research topics.