How Can Blogging Make You a Better Student?

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Within a few weeks of starting my psychology education, I realized that the way I was attempting to learn and retain information wasn’t very effective, in fact it was terrible. I found myself reading and rereading the same paragraphs over and over trying to force the information to sink in. 

With psychology, I found something that I was genuinely interested in, so it was important to comprehend AND retain what I was reading so that I could make sense of all of these new ideas and concepts. Eventually I found a way that suited me: reading short sections then re-writing the information in my own words.

But then, as I decided to embark on a master’s degree and take on a new placement, things got tougher. Not only was I expected to learn at a much faster rate than before, but also stay on top of new research (which tends to be published at an astounding rate). So I decided I needed a new method to keep abreast of new research, while being able to remember it in a meaningful way.

It started with a log…

The way I discovered what eventually worked best for me was born out of a requirement. At the end of each term, my instructors asked that I hand over a detailed, specific, and evidenced reflective log of what new information I had learned, how I had learned it, and where I found this information.  We called it a “reflective log.” The log was initially a foreign concept for me –and I found out that writing it from scratch a few hours before the deadline was, without question, a terrible idea.

Nonetheless, this process helped me develop a process for reflection that allowed me to grow as a practitioner. (Unless we can be self-evaluating, and self-critical when needed, we’re likely to get stuck in a rut which may stunt our growth.) 

…And ended with a blog

While I agree there is something to be said about handwriting notes rather than typing notes on a laptop, knowing that I am going to publish my notes to the world means that I engage more than I would if I were mindlessly typing as my professor spoke. 

With the creation of a blog, there’s a good chance that your notes, like mine, will become highly (and effortlessly) organized. Rather than having random bits of paper or files on your computer, your notes will be sorted by date and, more importantly, they will be searchable by keyword.

If you’re interested, there is a free guide I recommend that explains how to quickly start your own psychology blog. It covers some of the basics:

  • Setting up your blog from a technical perspective
  • Coming up with the name of your blog
  • What do to if  you run out of ideas for article topics

A way to set yourself apart

I’ll close with this: Having a blog carries many secondary benefits.  The most obvious is preparation for competitive jobs. Here, it’s not a case of wanting to set yourself apart from others, but a case of needing to. As well as the usual work experience and placements, writing your own psychology blog will be a unique selling point for most prospective employers. It not only shows you are passionate about psychology, but it also what you can do with your passion and knowledge.

When the dreaded ‘why should we hire you?’ question comes up, you’ll have a range of answers to give about what your own psychology blog has created for you:

  • I actively network with professionals within the field
  • I keep up to date with the latest research and understand how it informs our practices
  • I am practiced in disseminating high-level information to people who do not have technical knowledge

Those are just a few possible answers that might arise through your experience blogging.

Now, get out there and get started!

Editor’s Note: Marcus Clarke, B.Sc., M.Sc., regularly blogs at psysci.co, a psychology, science, and health blog that examines the latest research in psychology and science, and explains how findings can impact and help individuals’ everyday lives.

REPOST – Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans

Racial Trauma is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans

From Psychology Benefits Society, a blog from the APA Public Interest Directorate • July 14, 2016 By By Erlanger A. Turner, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Houston-Downtown) & Jasmine Richardson

Note: An earlier version of this blog was published on BlackDoctor.org

There have been many changes within the criminal justice system as a means to deter crime and to keep citizens safe. However, research demonstrates that often times men of color are treated harshly which leads to negative perceptions of police officers. The recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas have exposed many individuals and their families to incidents of police brutality that reminds us that as a society work needs to be done to improve police and community relations.

In light of these recent events, many people have witnessed these traumatic incidents through social media or participation in marches in their cities. The violence witnessed towards people of color from police continues to damage perceptions of law enforcement and further stereotype people of color negatively. In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health (Geller, Fagan, Tyler, & Link, 2014), the authors reported that 85% of the participants reported being stopped at least once in their lifetime and 78% had no history of criminal activity. What is more concerning is that the study also found that those who reported more intrusive police contact experienced increased trauma and anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, those who reported fair treatment during encounters with law enforcement had fewer symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.

Read the full article.

6 Tips to Help You Become a Better Writer

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“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

Being confident in your ability to formulate thoughts into words that end up as coherent text on paper is a necessary skill for succeeding in your graduate career, to say nothing of life beyond. Yet many students view good writing not as a skill—that is, something that can be learned—but as a blessing gifted to the fortunate few: like winning the lottery or having nice hair.

But as your incoming APAGS Member-at-Large, Research/Academic Focus , I’m here to tell you that writing is a skill, and becoming a better writer takes little more than practice, dedication, and time. As communicating ideas through writing is an essential aspect of psychological science, I’ve assembled some tips for how to become a better scientific writer below. They may not make academic life effortless, but they do a pretty good job at stopping the bleeding.

  1. Write what you mean…

Seems pretty simple, right? More often than not though we find ourselves knee-deep in word-muck at the end of our third paragraph, unable to decipher which variable we hypothesized to predict what outcome. At the outset, it is very easy to get wrapped up in jargon so write exactly what you mean, even if it sounds (at first blush) like a kindergartner wrote your introduction. You can always go back through your writing a second time to polish it up, but the single most important thing in writing is to manifest readable content.

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International Students and Clinical Work: Overcoming Challenges

MPj04383850000[1]As a part of their graduate coursework, all students in the applied psychology fields (clinical, counseling, and school psychology) are required to obtain clinical training. International students in these graduate programs often experience unique challenges in their training to become mental health professionals. In addition to problems typically experienced by their domestic counterparts, they face unique challenges such as adjusting to a new culture and, for many, learning to conduct therapy in a new language (Mittal & Wieling, 2006). These language and cultural barriers affect more than just the academic, counseling, and supervision experiences of these trainees; they take a toll on stress-levels, health, and well-being (Nilsson, 2007).

Although international students face several challenges on their clinical work when compared to U.S.-domestic counterparts, they can provide a unique perspective that might help them provide more culturally sensitive counseling. It is important to look at ways in which international trainees can be supported in developing their clinical skills and address their own needs and concerns. Here are some ways that international students can overcome challenges in clinical work:

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Why You Should Join the APAGS Convention Committee

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The 2016 APAGS Convention Committee at this year’s APA Convention in Denver.

If you have ever been to the APA convention, you know how thrilling it is: the famous psychologists, the innovative research ideas, and the free pens (just to name a few exciting things)! I was completely enamored after my first convention and wanted to contribute. Some of you may be thinking the same exact thing now, and with another convention over, it is time to start considering being a part of the APAGS programming and fervor that is convention.

Here are some reasons why you may be a good fit for the APAGS convention committee:

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