A Closer Look

Undergraduates at Howard University will likely have their first opportunity to take a class in I/O psychology this fall thanks to a recent faculty workshop on boosting minority student participation in industrial and organizational psychology (I/O). The workshop, sponsored by APA's Div. 14 (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology--SIOP), brought together SIOP leaders, applied I/O psychologists and faculty at minority-serving institutions to consider ways to turn more of today's minority students into tomorrow's I/O psychologists.

That dialogue inspired attendee and Howard University associate psychology professor Kellina Craig-Henderson, PhD, to find a way to deliver I/O to her undergraduate students. Tapping materials and contacts she gleaned from the workshop, Craig-Henderson--along with Howard psychology professor Donald L. King, PhD--wrote a proposal for the university to fund an advanced graduate student from nearby George Mason University to teach an undergraduate I/O course this fall. She'll learn this summer whether funding has been approved.

Craig-Henderson's efforts exemplify what the workshop--one of a series called the Institutes for the Teaching of Industrial and Organizational Psychology--aimed to accomplish, says SIOP Past-president Michael Burke, PhD, who initiated the series along with Kecia Thomas, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Georgia. Through the institutes, he and SIOP leaders provide faculty at minority-serving institutions--which often don't have the resources to employ an I/O expert--with tools such as sample syllabi and PowerPoint presentations they can use to introduce I/O to their students. They also seek to stimulate dialogue between I/O experts and minority-serving faculty on enhancing I/O's diversity and to expand students' exposure to the field by creating partnerships between academic institutions, says Burke.

An ongoing effort

The workshop Craig-Henderson attended--held in February at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., near Washington, D.C.--is the second installment of the institutes; the first was held at Tulane University in New Orleans in November 2003, and a third is planned for the Atlanta area for this fall. Through the series, division leaders feel they are on their way to diversifying I/O--something they have worked at for years, says Burke. While earlier efforts to increase ethnic-minority involvement within SIOP were successful, he says, they weren't designed to increase diversity in I/O psychology for the long-term.

"These workshops are long overdue," he adds.

The D.C. workshop featured sessions on such topics as prepping undergrads for applying to I/O programs and talks by minority I/O psychologists about applied careers. What's more, presenters and participants at the institute--which included faculty from Howard, Morgan State University, Bowie State University, George Mason University and the University of Maryland, College Park--suggested several initiatives that SIOP intends to pursue to extend the institutes' reach, says Burke.

Next steps

Specifically, faculty and other workshop attendees suggested SIOP:

  • Develop a model undergraduate curriculum. SIOP members could help faculty advise students interested in I/O graduate training by pointing out courses outside of psychology that could beef up their grad school applications, such as in economics, business and communications, says Ron Landis, PhD, director of the teaching institutes and director of the I/O program at Tulane University.

  • Secure funds for exchange programs. SIOP leaders will collaborate with workshop participants on a federal grant proposal to fund summer I/O research opportunities for minority students.

  • Create consortiums. If minority-serving schools and neighboring universities with I/O offerings establish partnerships, more minority students could take undergraduate I/O classes, says Burke.

"This wouldn't be a one-way street," he adds. "It's also a way for more students to be exposed to faculty at minority institutions."

  • Enhance SIOP's speaker series. Participants suggested expanding a division program that arranges for I/O professionals to share career insights with students so that more speakers--including minorities in applied I/O positions--are available to visit campuses without I/O faculty.

  • Boost undergraduate minority student recruitment. Competitive I/O programs typically aren't proactive enough when it comes to recruiting students because they are flooded with applicants each year, says Landis.

"We are complacent because we can be, but that's to our detriment," he adds. SIOP aims to change that complacency by encouraging division members who are I/O faculty to represent their programs at Psi Chi and undergraduate research conferences such as the National Council for Undergraduate Research.

Further Reading

For further information about the SIOP Teaching Institutes, read "Diversifying I/O" in the July/August 2004 Monitor.

For information on the upcoming Atlanta-area teaching institute, contact Ron Landis, PhD.

Div. 14 at a glance

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is a home for psychologists in academe, industry, government or consulting who are interested in industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology. SIOP was established in 1945 as the Industrial and Business Psychology division, one of the 19 original APA divisions. SIOP members receive the quarterly newsletter The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist and can tap SIOP's JobNet, which connects job-seekers with I/O employers. SIOP's upcoming fall conference will be held Oct. 28-29 in St. Louis and will focus on executive leadership selection and performance management. SIOP sponsors two book series, "Organizational Frontiers" and "Professional Practice," which cover cutting-edge issues in research and practice. For more information on SIOP, visit its Web site at www.siop.org. To join, contact membership chair Talya Bauer, PhD.