Department of Psychology at Illinois State University

Capstone Experiences

The Major in Psychology is structured so that students learn basic skills and knowledge during the first three years of the undergraduate program and then apply this information in a capstone experience during their senior year. Completing a capstone experience for three hours is a requirement for the Major in Psychology. In order to be eligible to enroll in a capstone experience, students must have a grade point average of 2.2 or higher (except for Honors Research, which requires a higher grade point average and enrollment in the Honors Program).

Psychology majors may not register for more than 17 hours of any combination of the following courses: PSY 287, 290, 291, 299, 390, 398, and IDS 395.03. Listed below are the capstone experiences that are available through the department.

Research Apprenticeship

Students should enroll in PSY 390 Advanced Research Apprenticeship for this capstone experience. PSY 390 must be completed with the same faculty member who supervised students in the prerequisite course PSY 290 Special Projects: Research Apprenticeship. Students learn about a faculty member's research project in PSY 290. In PSY 390, students assume greater responsibility for specific aspects of the research project. PSY 390 also requires students complete a final work product (e.g., write a research paper or present the research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium or a professional conference). Any research conducted by psychology students must comply with the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.

The availability of positions with faculty members research projects varies from semester to semester. Eligibility to enroll in PSY 390 depends on how many research experiences students seek and how well students fulfilled their responsibilities while enrolled in PSY 290.

After completing PSY 290, students should ask faculty members if their research projects have positions for advance research apprenticeships. If a position is available, the student and faculty member should complete the PSY 390 Advanced Research Apprenticeship Contract. Click on the link to download the contract to the computer. The contract is an interactive Microsoft Word document that should be completed on the computer. If necessary, the contract can be saved and sent to the faculty member as an e-mail attachment. The completed contract should be printed, signed, and dated by the student and faculty member. The signed contract should be submitted to the department for approval. If the contract is approved, the department will also approve an override for the student to register for PSY 390. Students may not register for PSY 390 until the contract has been approved and the override has been processed. Students must register for the specific number of credit hours identified in the contract; otherwise, the registration will not be complete. If the PSY 390 Contract is approved after the first week of the semester, student must register in 107 Moulton.

Teaching and Learning Apprenticeship

Students should enroll in PSY 391 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Apprenticeship for this capstone experience. PSY 391 must be completed with the same faculty member who supervised students in the prerequisite course PSY 291 Special Projects: Undergraduate Teaching. In PSY 291, students assist a faculty member who is teaching a psychology course. Generally, this assistance is helping with class, tutoring, grading course material, and meeting to discuss with the faculty member issues that arise in teaching. In PSY 391, students design and evaluate a teaching project related to the faculty member's psychology course. This experience is especially useful to students who are interested in a teaching career.

After completing PSY 291, students should ask the faculty member if they they have positions for advance teaching apprenticeships. The student and faculty member should complete the PSY 391 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Apprenticeship Contract. Click on the link to download the contract to the computer. The contract is an interactive Microsoft Word document that should be completed on the computer. If necessary, the contract can be saved and sent to the faculty member as an e-mail attachment. The completed contract should be printed, signed, and dated by the student and faculty member. The signed contract should be submitted to the department for approval. If the contract is approved, the department will also approve an override for the student to register for PSY 391. Students may not register for PSY 391 until the contract has been approved and the override has been processed. Students must register for the specific number of credit hours identified in the contract; otherwise, the registration will not be complete. If the PSY 391 Contract is approved after the first week of the semester, student must register in 107 Moulton.

Senior Seminar

PSY 392 Senior Seminar is provided for students whose schedules do not allow them to take advantage of the other capstone opportunities. The topics discussed in Senior Seminar are variable, depending on the instructor teaching the course. The department strongly recommends students participate in one of the other capstone experiences where psychology is applied to teaching, research, and practice endeavors.

Professional Practice

Students should enroll in PSY 395 Professional Practice Seminar and PSY 398 Professional Practice: Psychology during the same semester for this capstone experience. PSY 395 is a seminar class that discusses assuming a professional identity and teaches students how to use psychological knowledge to help solve problems. PSY 398 provides students with an opportunity to earn academic credit for work experience related to psychology. This experience is available to all psychology majors, although enrollment is only possible if students are accepted for a Professional Practice position when they apply at community agencies or local businesses. Professional Practice placements are commonly referred to as internships, where the interns are supervised by professionals in the workplace. Internships are usually unpaid positions, although there are occasional exceptions.

In order to be eligible to register for PSY 395 and PSY 398, students must have completed at least 15 hours of psychology course relevant to the internship, have junior or senior standing as a psychology major, and have a grade point average of 2.2 or higher for all psychology -related coursework. Students must meet with Dr, Karen Mark, the coordinator of psychology internships. Students should be prepared to discuss their goals for the internship and identify possible community agencies or businesses. Dr. Mark will verify that students have completed the appropriate courses for potential internship sites.

Students are responsible for contacting an appropriate agency or business and meeting with a potential supervisor to discuss an internship position. After the student is accepted for an internship, the student and supervisor must complete and sign an internship contract. The contract, which is available from Dr. Mark, verifies the student's placement and supervision, and any specific information about the internship. The signed contract should be submitted to Dr. Mark. After Dr. Mark receives the signed contract, an override will be approved so that the student can register for PSY 395 and PSY 398. The internship may not begin until registration is completed and the semester has begun.

Students each one credit hour for every 40 hours worked at the internship, up to a maximum of three credit hours per placement per semester. Students will need to work at least 120 hours, during the semester, at the internship in order to receive three credit hours for PSY 398.

Students are required to submit a term paper on the last day of class for the semester. This term paper (at least five pages, word-processed, and double-spaced) should integrate the student's internship experience with relevant psychology coursework, focusing on how psychology courses material applies to the internship activities. The supervisor will also evaluate the intern's performance while at the internship. The grade for PSY 398 is determined by both the quality of the term paper and the performance evaluation.

Students should contact Dr. Karen Mark by e-mail for an appointment to discuss eligibility, placement, and registration procedures for an internship.

Honors Research

Honors students should enroll in IDS 395.03 Honors Thesis: Psychology for this capstone experience. Students should review the Honors Thesis website.

In order to register for IDS 395.03, students must complete the Honors Thesis contract with the faculty member supervising the research project. The contract is available from the Honors Office. The contract must be approved by the department and the Honors Program. After the contract has been approved, the Honors Program will give students a permit to register for IDS 395.03. The Honors Thesis contract must be returned to the Honors Office by the 15th day of the semester.

IDS 395.03 requires students to complete an in-depth research project and write an Honors Thesis. Any research conducted by psychology students must comply with the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association. At the end of the semester, students must present their research results at the Psychology Honors Colloquium. The Colloquium is presented to the department and is open to faculty, students, and the University community. Students should contact the Honors Coordinator, Dr. Jeff Wagman, by e-mail if they have any questions about Honors Research.