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TIP-TOPICS

Marcus Butts and Nancy Yanchus
University of Georgia

Eyal Grauer
Bowling Green State University

 Wow, is it 2002 already? In this edition of TIP-TOPics, we bring you three of our featured segments. In Psychology et al., we will provide some insight into the possible extensions of I-O psychology to the field of cognitive psychology. Career Corner discusses some of the unique experiences of people teaching in I-O masters programs. Finally, in Path to Glory, we give some tips on how to save money. After all those New Years celebrations, now may be a good time for you to start pinching those pennies again.

Before getting immersed in your reading, wed like to remind you about the upcoming IOOB conference, a great opportunity to meet other grad students in your field. This year the conference will take place in Tampa, at the University of South Florida, March 13, 2002. Be sure to check out the IOOB Web site for the latest information (www.ioob.org).

Psychology et al.

While it is evident that there are distinctions between different fields of psychology, many times there are similarities that go unnoticed. In this issue, we compare cognitive psychology with I-O psychology, and see how subfields of psychology can learn from one another.

The goals of cognitive psychology are far different from the goals of I-O psychology. Cognitive psychologists are interested in knowing how the brain functionshow it works. Cognitive psychologists also study phenomena like attention, sensation, perception, linguistic operation, and memory. In contrast, I-O psychologists have a much more applied goalimproving work organizations and worklife.

Since the approaches are quite different, it does not at first seem logical to compare the two. However, upon further examination, there are some intriguing concepts of importance to both fields that overlap, such as judgment and decision making. Decision making takes place every day in the workplace and some decisions have implications for hundreds of lives. Thus, understanding how individuals reason and go about making decisions, and investigating how these decisions are perceived by others, can aid both cognitive and I-O psychologists. Some I-O psychologists, such as Scott Highhouse and Janet Sniezek, have begun examining the relationships between the two fields through research looking at decision-making processes at work and during job searches. Another mutual interest topic is personal perceptions about trial processes, from eyewitness testimony to juror perceptions. These two topics demonstrate potential subfield interaction in the future of research.

Many cognitive psychologists use techniques that could be beneficial to I-O psychology. Neural networks, for example, were initially developed to mimic the brain and how it functions for artificial intelligence and computer science purposes. There are many types of algorithms used in neural networks to represent different natural occurrences, from hearing sounds to false memory encryption. Neural networks show some promise for helping our field because unlike regression models, they are able to learn patterns and are often capable of coping with missing data better than regression analysis. As for practical applications, neural networking models have been used to increase detected credit card fraud rates, to predict the likelihood of bombs in airport luggage, and for identification of individuals using fingerprints and face identification (now being used in certain U.S. airports). Neural networking has the potential to aid I-O psychology in selection tasks and in predicting turnover, but to date, very few papers have been written about I-O psychology and neural networks.

Similarly, there are some techniques such as item response theory and structural equation modeling, which are used frequently in I-O psychology but have not (to our knowledge) been applied to cognitive psychological situations. Some researchers in the cognitive field, such as John D. McAuley of Bowling Green State University, have suggested that IRT could be used to look at measures of recognition and recall (among other things).

What does all this have to deal with grad school? Well, all I-O programs have core requirements. You can take classes on cognitive psychology or neuroscience, and find applications for their methodologies and perspectives in the I-O field. So dont dread those core requirements. For all those proposals that you write up for your core classesrun the studies and integrate the information. You may learn something new during the process. And heyyou may even get a publication out of it!

Career Corner

We all know that there are various professor positions you can get with a PhD in I-O psychology, but many of you may wonder what the differences are between professor positions at masters programs and at PhD programs. Thus, we searched out a couple of reputable professors at I-O masters programs to give you their insights. First, Jeffrey Conte shares his current experience at the San Diego State University masters program. Then, Douglas Johnson will give you advice that he has accumulated through his time at University of North Texas, which includes initiating the universitys I-O masters program in 1971 and eventually helping start the PhD program (which replaced the masters program) in 2000.

Jeffrey M. Conte, Assistant Professor
San Diego State University

 Similarities Between Masters Programs and PhD Programs

Teaching, research, and service are important parts of the job for professors at both masters and PhD programs. In masters programs that require students to complete a thesis, mentoring responsibilities for professors are similar to those at PhD institutions. Although masters theses are generally smaller in scope than dissertations, professors at masters programs are likely to advise a larger number of students given the comparably larger enrollment. Thus, professors at masters and PhD programs alike are responsible for guiding students through the trials and tribulations of the research process.

Teaching Duties and Research Responsibilities

Teaching duties for professors at a masters program differ from those at a PhD program because masters students are especially interested in applied issues in class. Thus, developing a masters seminar requires including readings that have very clear applied implications. Professors at masters programs often utilize book chapters from the SIOP Professional Practice series and articles from journals such as Academy of Management Executive and Harvard Business Review to supplement readings in the Journal of Applied Psychology and Personnel Psychology. Teaching graduate classes at a masters program also requires professors to maintain a balanced scientist-practitioner perspective in a class with students who will very likely work in industry for the rest of their careers. In addition, masters students are very eager to get involved in applied projects in their coursework.

Research duties and responsibilities for faculty at a masters program differ in several ways from those in a PhD program. First, because masters students are in the graduate program for a shorter period of time than PhD students (23 instead of 46 years), they are less likely to develop an independent research stream. Thus, professors in masters programs are very likely to direct theses in one of their own research areas. In addition, whereas PhD students who are going on to academic careers are often very interested and involved in the research and publication process, many masters students are primarily interested in gaining applied skills through internships and other applied experiences. Thus, professors in masters programs are often responsible for providing advice and expertise to students as they work in their internships. Although there is certainly some research collaboration between faculty and students in masters programs, such faculty-student collaboration is less common than in PhD programs. Accordingly, many professors in masters programs collaborate on research primarily with faculty colleagues in their own and other universities. Finally, compared to PhD programs, there is often less emphasis at many masters programs on obtaining grants to support a research program and graduate students. However, this distinction has diminished in recent years as many professors at masters programs are now strongly encouraged or required to obtain grant money to support their research and their students research.

Differences Among Masters Programs

Although it is clear that there are some important differences between masters and PhD programs, there are also notable differences among masters programs. First, although masters programs on average admit a larger number of students per year than PhD programs, the size of incoming classes at different masters programs varies widely. Second, the relative emphasis on teaching and research differs across masters programs. This is made apparent by examining teaching loads of professors. At masters programs with a relatively heavy research emphasis, the teaching load is likely to be two courses per semester, which is the same as at many research-oriented PhD programs. In contrast, masters programs with a heavy teaching emphasis may have teaching loads of four courses per semester. Thus, the teaching and research responsibilities described above for professors at masters programs will depend upon the relative emphasis on teaching and research as well as the size of the program.

Overall, the flexibility of the job and the varied activities and responsibilities involved in teaching, research, and service provide for a very challenging and fulfilling career for professors at masters and PhD programs alike.

Dr. Douglas Johnson, I-O Psychology Program Director
University of North Texas

 Research Requirements and Teaching Expectations

Prospective faculty should always be concerned about research requirements and teaching loads. The two should be negatively correlated. Unless the masters program is located in a doctorate-granting department, the research requirements should be somewhat lower than in a PhD program. The teaching load will likely be somewhat higher. Typically in masters programs, there are fewer I-O faculty colleagues to team with to generate research projects. Masters students are not as research oriented as doctoral students, and they are only around for 2 years instead of 5 or 6, so it is more difficult to develop long-term student research projects and research assistants. It is reasonable for departments to expect a more modest level of research and publication from I-O faculty under these circumstances. You should be wary of a department that has all of these: a high teaching load (four courses per semester is a high load), extensive research and publication requirements for tenure, few I-O faculty colleagues, and only masters students to work with. Also, be wary of departments that will expect a lot of committee work from you. Untenured professors have more important things to do. Good departments tend to protect untenured faculty from excessive committee work.

You should be prepared to be flexible about what you need to do to achieve tenure and promotion. During my career, the University of North Texas changed from a teaching university with minimal faculty research requirements, to a more traditional publish or perish institution. Stay alert for possible changes in tenure-promotion requirements, especially if there is a change in university administration. Prior to accepting a position, ask about the historical stability of tenure-promotion requirements at the institution and the likelihood and direction of future changes.

The Importance of Applied Expertise

If you are going to teach in a masters program, you should have a strong orientation to teaching and to applied I-O psychology. Having an entrepreneurial spirit is a plus. While there is clearly a place for pure academic faculty in doctoral programs, such is rarely the case in masters programs. The primary purpose of most masters degree programs in I-O psychology is to create technical professionals for industry and consulting. However, there are a few masters programs that are designed as doctoral prep programs for students who wish to obtain their doctoral degrees. Be sure to determine which type of program you are dealing with, as the latter type may have fewer applied and more traditional academic components.

In general, you are likely to find that I-O masters students are highly motivated and vocationally oriented. They want as much applied training as they can get from their faculty so that they can get professional jobs within a couple of years after entering the program. Therefore, you should plan to develop and supervise applied experiences for your students. This includes creating contacts with external organizations for internship placements. You may need a strong set of sales skills to do this, as organizations will not necessarily fall all over themselves to work with you, even if your program is very good. If you teach in a community where there are consulting and in-house I-O psychologists, find out who they are and get them involved. They may not always have internship positions available, but they will usually work with students whenever they can. Fortunately, the University of North Texas is located in the DallasFort Worth area, so I have usually been able to find external placements for my students. If your institution is located in a more rural location, youll need to be creative to develop applied experiences. This is where an entrepreneurial spirit is useful. You may have to develop a program-based, public service type of mini-consulting firm (with faculty-supervised students as the consultants) and offer its services to clients wherever you can find them.

Initiating a New Masters Program

If you receive an offer to start a new masters program, dont automatically reject it. It is a unique opportunity that can lead to great personal fulfillment. I have found that program development can be as much of a source of job satisfaction as teaching, publishing, or grantsmanship, because it provides the opportunity to create an enduring contribution to your university and to your profession. However, you should make serious inquiries about the universitys commitment to the development of the program. Do not take the job unless there is enthusiastic (and financial) support by the chair and the dean. And if you accept such an offer, be a good departmental citizen and support the other programs in your department. Even though wed like to believe that the I-O program is always the most important in any department that has one, dont act as if it is, because you will need your colleagues support if you are to develop your program. The same advice holds if you take a job within an existing program. Masters programs are often located in smaller departments where there must be a supportive atmosphere among the various program faculty members if the programs are to succeed. Poor cross-program support and a high degree of territoriality are not conducive to the development of a strong program, especially in a smaller department. On the other hand, great things can happen when all departmental faculty support each others programs. Be sure to check on the supportiveness of other program faculty before you take the job.

Path to Glory

Our topic this time is one of universal concern for all I-O graduate students (unless you are a trust fund baby): how to live on your annual stipend. For the majority of us, our graduate school salary is quite low. Sowhat to do? An immediate way to supplement your income is to take out student loans. While this is a possibility for some, it may not be an option for others. Therefore, the tips we offer below are some general ways to consider how you might improve your financial status by altering how, where, and on what you spend your money. These tips span from common sense to creative, so enjoy.

How to Change Your Spending Behavior

One of the simplest ways to decrease the amount of money you spend in a week is to limit how much cash you take out of the ATM machine. Some people habitually frequent the ATM, taking out small amounts of money as needed to purchase single items or single meals. Often it is the case that while the majority of this cash is used to buy the preselected item, the remainder of the money is spent on more spur-of-the-moment purchasing decisions such as going out for coffee or stopping at a book or music store. An alternative, more cost-effective method for using the ATM is to only go once a week. Period. This can be done by planning your total weeks expenses at the beginning of the week and then only allowing yourself to take out that amount of money (plus some calculated splurge money) from the cash machine. This way, extra spending is reduced or eliminated.

Another way to change spending behavior and avoid anxiety when bills are due involves your credit card use. Its best to view each purchase you make during the month as actually writing the check. This eliminates any false sense of limitless money that using a credit card can foster. Better yet, write a check instead of using a credit card. This way you are only spending the money you actually have in your bank account. Finally, you could get rid of all but one of your credit cards, and use it sparingly (i.e., only in cases of dire emergencies).

Where You Spend Your Money Counts

The places where you spend your money can affect your overall financial picture. Perhaps at one time in your life, higher-priced department stores with designer outfits were the norm where you shopped. Unfortunately, the graduate student budget can put a damper on frequent visits to these places. There are, however, many places to buy necessary items of good quality at inexpensive prices. Some of our favorite places to find a good deal are below:

  • Dollar stores
  • www.priceline.com
  • Wal-Mart
  • Pier One Clearance
  • Sams Club
  • Gap Outlet
  • Target
  • Express (Clearance sales)
  • TJ Maxx
  • Salvation Army
  • Shopgoodwill.com

Cutting Costs

Cutting costs is a key to financial success as a graduate student. The following are examples of how you may spend less money:

  • Eating   
    • Like steak and chicken? Not every night anymore, thats for sure! Nows the time to eat pasta, rice, beans, eggs, salad, soup, cheese, and potatoes more frequently than before. Soup and potatoes can be a meal for two for under a dollar each!
    • Buy generic products in the grocery store. Most products are identical, but with a different label
    • Dont go out to eat more than once or twice a week
    • Take a bag lunch to schoolyou can encourage this by sponsoring Brown Bag Lunches (power in numbers!)
  • Clothes, books, and CDs
    • Your motto in these stores should be look, think, and decide. If you find an item that you think is perfect for you, put it back on the rack or shelf or place it on hold and go back to the store in a day or two. This gives you time to think over your potential purchase to decide if it is something that you really want (or need) to spend money on.
    • The library is known for having books, and some even carry popular CDs.; if not, there are many online locations to download MP3s and burn them
  • Monthly Bills
    • Cancel your long distance service and look into using a calling card or 10-10 numbers. Many of these are cheaper by the minute and have no monthly fees
    • Use a free Internet service provider if possible
    • Always pay credit card bills in their entirety
    • Take advantage of interest-free student loans
    • Buy rabbit ears, get basic cable, or go without a TV. Its not like you have time to watch TV, right?
  • Entertainment
    • Reduce movie theater outings, or go to a matinee
    • Rent videos instead of going to a movie theater

Successfully living on your stipend by changing your spending behavior, looking for different places to shop, and cutting costs can be a challenge, but heywere graduate students!

 

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