Science vs. Practice in I-O Psychology – My Experiences from a Master’s Level Perspective

As you may already know, I’ve recently relocated to Southwest Florida in the summer of 2012.  Since arriving back in Florida I have been fortunate to receive an Adjunct Instructor position at my undergraduate institution, teaching two, upper-level, psychology electives (Tests & Measures and Intro to I-O Psychology).

Teaching is definitely a double-edged sword though!  It’s extremely rewarding in the rare occasions that my students light up with enthusiasm at my unconventional methods (such as incorporating current events, case studies, discussion/seminar style activities, and group/team-based projects aimed at “real world” application of the subject-matter), but it can feel almost hopeless when students don’t engage.  So much so that I can’t help but take it personally, especially when I put the majority of my own time (and some of my own money) into developing these “unconventional” activities.

I know that to some, or most of you reading this, the methods listed above are anything but “unconventional”.  The majority of my own education, especially post-graduate, consisted of a mix and match of exactly those same components!  However, the sad truth about what I’ve experienced this semester is that my students’ expectations are heavily geared toward receiving lectures with powerpoint slides that simply regurgitate their assigned readings!  I can’t speak for other adjunct professors in small liberal arts universities, but this pedagogy (or lack of) is demotivating to myself as an educator, and just plain disappointing from my perspective of what constitutes a rich, learning environment.  As a first time educator, these experiences, coupled with the small monetary compensation, has led me to pursue a practitioner role in I-O psychology instead (which I have been VERY fortunate enough to have lined up for the end of this semester – see below).

It’s a little depressing turning my back at “the Academy”, as I’ve had some great prior experiences in learning and development roles so far (working in institutional research and in a corporate university).  I suppose the problem may be that I have a strong work ethic, and can’t help but put 110% of myself into teaching.  And when the financial reward is completely unbalanced, and I’m at a loss of the intrinsic rewards that inherently should be there- via almost nonexistent student engagement – I have no choice but to move on with what are clearly more rewarding opportunities.

So, moving forward, I will be joining a successful local company in December 2012, starting full-time as an Implementation Manager for their Pre-employment Assessments division.  Click here for more information about Global HR Research, I’m extremely excited to be joining their team!


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