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Student Research
Psychology alumni Amanda Nitowski (with research supervisor Dr. Alicia Nordstrom) presented her independent research project at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference in Pittsburgh in March 2009


Psychology Research Lab
Student Research Project
Faculty Research Projects
    Reactions to Involvement in Social Interactions
    Student Stereotypes and Prejudice towards Groups of Difference
     College Retention, Adjustment, and Performance Study
     Academic and Psychological Adjustment of Health Sciences Students

Psychology Research Lab
The Psychology Research Lab houses research equipment for faculty and students working on short and long term research projects.  Thanks to a grant from the Faculty Research Grants Committee, the department was able to purchase brand new laboratory equipment and give students and faculty a home for research. Faculty and students enrolled in PSY 300: Research Group and PSY 490: Independent Research will be using the room to conduct the data collection, entry, and analyses for their projects.

Student Research Projects
In addition to participating in faculty research, psychology majors can choose to create their own independent research projects.  Students present their findings during the Campus Research Fair in April, but some of our students have presented their research at regional, national, and international conferences. 
  • In March of 2014, Sarah Nowalis presented her project, Parenting Styles as Predictors of Mental Health, Substance Use and Adjustment in Emerging Adults at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference in Boston.  
  • In May of 2011, Roger Giovino and Matt DeMuysere presented their project, It Pays to be Friendly:  Perceptions of Physical Attractiveness and Positive and Negative Attributes in Relation to Gender and Friendly or Rude at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Conference in Washington, DC. The APS is one of the most prestigious research societies in the field of Psychology. 
  • In May of 2010, Mike Bobrowski presented his project, Self-efficacy and Locus of Control as Predictors of Academic Adjustment across Genders at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Conference in Boston, MA.  Mike was the first undergraduate from Misericordia to present at this conference.
  • In March of 2010, Mike Bobrowski presented his project, A Study Examining the Implicit and Explicit Preference of African-Americans and Caucasians with Respect to Perceived Occupational Prestige at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference in New York City.
  • In March of 2009, Amanda NItowski presented her research project, Examining the Role of Parental Control and Attachment in Relationships with College Peers at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

Reactions to Involvement in Social Interactions
Principal Investigator: Kelly Filipkowski, Ph.D.
This study is an in-depth investigation into psychological and physiological reactions to being involved in various social interactions. Although self-reports provide valuable evidence as to the psychological processes occurring during these experiences, participants can exhibit demand characteristics, or may not be able to identify how they feel, or why. The aim of the project is to simultaneously capture both biological and psychological factors involved in the interaction process as it occurs either face-to-face or via chat rooms.
After providing informed consent, students complete a pre-interaction questionnaire packet and provide a baseline hormone sample (via saliva sample). Participants then engage in a brief "get acquainted" conversation with two other individuals, and then complete a post-interaction questionnaire packet and saliva sample.

Comparing the Impact of Three Diversity Assignments on Students' Attitudes towards Groups of Difference
The Voices Project: A Second Intro to Psychology Pedagogical Study Examining Students' Attitudes towards Groups of Difference
Enhancing Students' Cultural Competence through Interviews with Muslim and non-Muslim British Students
Principal Investigator:  Alicia Nordstrom, Ph.D.
The goal of this pedagogical research study is to empirically examine the impact of three different learning approaches on student attitudes towards “groups of difference.” Students enrolled in three Intro to Psychology sections in Fall, 2009 (all taught by the principal investigator) were assigned to a research-based, service-learning, or experiential diversity assignment condition. Students completed pre-and post assignment surveys asking about their attitudes towards “groups of difference” and will complete a follow up survey one year later.  The project will examine which diversity assignment (if any) had the largest short-term and long-term impact on change in student attitudes towards groups of difference. 
Conference Presentations:
Nordstrom, A. H. (2012, August).  The Voices Project: Enhancing students' cultural competence in Intro to Psychology.  Poster presented at the 120th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Orlando, FL.
Nordstrom, A. H. (2011, October).  The Voices Project:  Using an experiential diversity assignment to reduce stereotypes and prejudice in Intro to Psychology.  Presentation at the Best Practice in Teaching Introduction to Psychology conference of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Atlanta, GA.

College Retention, Adjustment, & Performance Study
Principal Investigators: Dr. Alicia Nordstrom (MU), Dr. Marnie Hiester (MU), and Dr. Lisa Swenson Goguen (Penn State Hazleton)

Research Summary
Beginning in the fall of 2005, this longitudinal, multisite study set out to identify factors that predict successful adjustment to college, academic performance, and retention. The original study had three principal investigators: Dr. Alicia Nordstrom (clinical psychologist at Misericordia University), Dr. Marnie Hiester (developmental psychologist from Misericordia University), and Dr. Lisa Swenson Goguen, (developmental psychologist from Penn State Hazleton).   Each investigator had their own area of interest. Dr. Nordstrom was interested in how mental health and personality factors affected first-year students’ transition to college. Dr. Hiester examined how adolescents’ relationships with their parents related to their academic, social, and emotional adjustment to college, and if gender differences might play a role in these relationships. Dr. Swenson’s interest focused on how friendships change over the first semester of college and what other factors influence peer relationships in college students. This was the first time a study like this had been conducted at Misericordia University. 
The sample for this study was 490 college students enrolled in core History courses at Misericordia University and core English courses at Penn State Hazleton. Students completed surveys during the second and the eleventh week of the semester to examine the transition to college during the first semester. Of the total sample, 271 students completed surveys at both time periods and were 17-18 years old (suggesting that they were first-year students). 
During the 2008-09 academic year, Dr. Nordstrom conducted a follow-up study with the original Misericordia participants who were first-year students in 2005 and are currently in their senior year. The goal of the follow-up study was to better understand the long-term impact of mental health, personality, social, and cognitive factors on college students’ academic performance, and college adjustment and retention in their senior year.  The original study participants were invited to come for a 60-90 minute interview and survey session to find out information about their mental health, self-esteem, personality, peer and parent relationships, and college adjustment. The follow-up study also added a new component that was not a part of the original study. With students’ permission, their parents were interviewed by phone and asked about their experiences as a parent and their relationship with their college-age adolescent. This will help us learn about the college experience from both the student and parents’ perspective. 
Research Dissemination
The investigators of this study found great interest from the academic community in their findings and have presented results in peer-reviewed journals as well as national and international conferences.  We have also been interviewed by regional press interested in discussing the challenges of the college transition. 
Conference Presentations
Nowalis, S., & Nordstrom, A.H. (2014, March). Parenting styles as predictors of mental health, substance use and adjustment in emerging adults. Poster to be presented at the 2014 Eastern Psychological Association Conference, Boston, Massachussetts.
Bobrowski, M., Nordstrom, A. H., Hiester, M., & Swenson, L. M. (2010, May). Self-efficacy and locus of control as predictors of academic adjustment across genders. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science 22nd Annual Conference in Boston, MA.
Swenson, L., Nordstrom, A., & Hiester, M. (2009, October). The effects of peer attachment and social anxiety on United States college students’ friendships. In M. Demir (Chair), Friendship Experiences and Happiness Among Emerging Adults in Different Cultural Contexts. Symposium presented at the 4th Conference on Emerging Adulthood in Atlanta, GA.
Nitowski, A., Nordstrom, A. H., Swenson, L. M., & Hiester, M. (2009, March). Examining the role of parental control and attachment in relationships with college peers. Poster presented at the Eastern Psychological Association conference in Pittsburgh, PA.
Hiester, M., Nordstrom, A. H., & Swenson, L. M. (2008, May). Parental attachment and intrusiveness predict psychological health and adjustment for college freshmen. Poster presented at the American Psychological Society conference in Chicago, IL.
Nordstrom, A. H., Swenson, L. M., & Hiester, M. A. (2008, March). Effects of social anxiety and self-esteem on the transition to college. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Adolescence biennial conference in Chicago, IL. 
Swenson, L. M., Hiester, M. A., & Nordstrom, A. H. (2008, March). Linking social and cognitive development among first-year college students. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Adolescence  biennial conference in Chicago, IL. 
Swenson, L. M., Nordstrom, A. H., & Hiester, M. A. (2008, March). Friendship quality and adjustment during the transition to college. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Adolescence biennial conference in Chicago, IL. 
Peer-Reviewed Publications:
Nordstrom, A. H., Hiester, M. A., & Swenson, L. M. (2014). The impact of social anxiety and self-esteem on college adjustment, academics, and retention. Journal of College Counseling, 17 (1).
Swenson, L.M., Hiester, M.A., & Nordstrom, A.H. (2010). Associations among peer relationships, academic achievement, and persistence in college. Journal of College Student Retention:  Research, Theory, and Practice, 12, 319-337.
Hiester, M. A., Nordstrom, A. H., & Swenson, L. M. (2009). Stability and change in perceived attachment to parents and adjustment outcomes during their first semester transition to college life: The influence of gender and residence. Journal of College Student Development, 50, 521-538.
Swenson, L.M., Nordstrom, A., & Hiester, M. (2008). The role of peer relationships in adjustment to college. Journal of College Student Development, 49, 551-567.

Longitudinal Study of Academic and Psychological Adjustment of Health Sciences Graduate Students

Principal Investigators: Dr. Alicia Nordstrom and Dr. Scott Massey (Director of Physician Assistant Studies)

Research shows that graduate students in Health Sciences graduate programs report high rates of depression and anxiety (Massey et al 2012), which can impair students well-being and success in program completion. This study is the first to examine the academic and psychological adjustment of students in four Health Sciences graduate programs (Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology, Physician Assistant). Starting in Fall 2013, graduate students will be followed for 2-4 years (from start to completion depending on program length) and will complete survey packets 1-2 times per semester. It is hypothesized that students reporting high levels of mental health symptomatology (i.e., anxiety, depression), stress, physical health problems, and/or low self-esteem/competence will show greater academic difficulties, lower rates of program completion, and worse quality-of-life. We will also examine learning styles, study skills, coping styles, family stress, and social support as mediators and moderators of these relationships. 

Psych student, Michael Bobrowski, with Alicia Nordstrom
Alumni Michael Bobrowski (with research supervisor Dr. Alicia Nordstrom) presented his research at the Association for Psychological Science Conference in Boston, MA in May, 2010