During a weekend of training on Sept. 28-30, 14 psychological scientists learned the nuts and bolts of the legislative process, and focused on ways they can advocate for funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and other defense-related agencies. The psychologists also practiced translating their research into language congressional staffers will understand.
"Talking to staffers is very different from talking with other psychologists," explains training organizer Heather Kelly, PhD, APA's senior legislative and federal affairs officer.
Guest presenter and APA fellow Susan Chipman, PhD, who works in the U.S. Office of Naval Research, highlighted the contributions of DoD research to education and training technology, particularly in the area of artificially intelligent tutoring for military and civilian applications. She also noted areas in which she'd like to see more research funded, including the use of multimedia and virtual reality, the effectiveness of alternative instructional strategies and the use of computers to approximate human speech.
After learning how to communicate the necessity of behavioral research, the participants took their new skills to Capitol Hill, meeting with their congressional delegations to highlight the importance of psychological research to national defense. The current defense budget, said Kelly, includes major cuts to research in the fields of psychological and behavioral science.
"We need to ensure the Department of Defense budget for the 2005 fiscal year includes appropriate funding for behavioral research," urges Kelly.
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