Missouri State University
Psychology Department Blog

Psychology Graduate Student Receives MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award


Taylor Smith is a second year graduate student in the Experimental program on her way to earning a Master’s of Science in Psychology.

As a Missouri State alumna, she knew there was no where she would rather attend for graduate school.  Her Master’s
education as a Bear also provides the opportunity to continue researching in Dr. Adena Young-Jones’ educational psychology research lab; Taylor just began her fourth year with the group.

With Dr. Young-Jones’ mentorship, Taylor has found her passion in teaching with a focus on diversity within and outside of the classroom.  As an instructor and graduate assistant for the Introductory Psychology courses, she spends the majority of her time helping students to succeed in the realm of academia.  Keen to pursue valuable opportunities, Taylor was the graduate representative for Southwestern Teachers of Psychology (SWToP) and a level 1 partner for the Bears for a Just Community Living Learning Community on campus.  Additionally, she coordinates with local middle schools to host and facilitate a workshop for students which encourages critical thinking about diversity while incorporating fun activities.

These and other achievements have not gone unnoticed by peers, faculty, and regional representatives.  Taylor is the 2017 Missouri State University’s Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award recipient.  “There are so many amazing TAs on campus; I could hardly believe I’d won!  Teaching undergraduates has been a priceless experience that solidified my ambition to become a professor of psychology.”  Additionally, she is the first MSU student to be awarded the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools’ (MAGS) Excellence in Teaching Award for her innovative philosophy.  “It’s important to vary teaching methods within the classroom to keep students’ attention and return focus to content mastery and improvement instead of grades.”  Ultimately, she desires to pursue a doctorate within the field of Social Psychology.

See more information on the MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award webpage.

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Psychology students present research at SWPA Conference

The Educational Psychology Research Lab (six undergraduate students and two graduate students) traveled with Dr. Young-Jones to present at the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) conference in San Antonio, Texas on March 31-April 2, 2017. Students successfully presented on a variety of research projects and fielded questions from professionals and peers.

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Want students to do better in school? Don’t focus on grades

Studying in PSU

“Talk to your neighbor.” It’s a common phrase in Taylor Smith’s classes at Missouri State University.

As a graduate teaching assistant, Smith collaborates with multiple classes in the department of psychology. If you sit in on one of them, you won’t see the traditional lecture style of teaching you might expect. Instead, Smith’s classes are full of chatter and activity.

“I believe students should focus more on content than what they need to do to receive an A,” said Smith. “I want students to interact with the material.”

Taylor SmithMeaningful discussions

As a student, Smith noticed some of her peers struggled to absorb course content because it was not engaging enough. To combat this challenge, Smith works to build a safe and inviting atmosphere for class discussion and interaction.

“Small group activities give quieter students a chance to voice their own thoughts and insight,” said Smith. “Additionally, they allow students to work out their thoughts before they share them with the whole class.”

Smith’s style has paid off for both her students and herself. This year, she received the Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award from Missouri State’s Graduate College and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools.

“My approach pushes students to interact with their peers in a meaningful way by using examples from their own life,” said Smith. “Awarding participation credit to students when they contribute, instead of focusing on right or wrong responses, encourages deeper learning and understanding.”

For more information, contact Smith.

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Hill Hall Renovation

Please make note of the following information!

Hill Hall will begin a major renovation beginning on June 1, 2017. The Psychology Department will be relocating to the Glen Isle campus location, and will remain there through the end of the Summer 2018 term.

Almost all of the Psychology courses offered will be scheduled in the Glen Isle location – please be sure to check the location of your scheduled courses so you have ample time to commute (whether by personal vehicle or the Glen Isle Bear Line Shuttle service).

Hill Hall Renovation

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