One-semester projects may cover a wide range of topics within the field of clinical psychology and will consist of a review of empirical research on the topic as well as a proposal to examine one or more yet-to-be-studied hypotheses. Two-semester projects for next year will focus on one of the following topics:
Examining Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in College Students
As more children diagnosed with ADHD grow into young adults, research is beginning to examine how having this disorder is related to functioning at this age. This research is lacking in terms of understanding whether or not college students are good reporters of their own symptoms as compared to their parents and/or close friends. In addition, very little is known about whether or not ADHD symptoms are stable while students are in college. There is a small body of literature that suggests that students with high ADHD symptomatology are at risk for academic, social, family, and behavioral problems. Are there interventions geared toward helping these students develop various study and social skills that could decrease their risk for negative outcomes? What relationship does parenting have with ADHD symptoms and adjustment at this age? Professor McKee plans on collecting screening data from the entering first-year class and then following select students over the year. Data will also be collected from students who have been screened in prior years. Some projects may involve data collection from parents and close friends.
The Transition to College
The transition to college can be difficult for many young adults as they learn to live on their own and adjust to increasing academic demands. A number of factors have been identified that relate to success during this transition. These include, but are not limited to: high school and college friendships, relationships with parents, orientation programs, and other individual difference variables (e.g., clinical symptomatology, self-esteem, coping styles). Some projects will involve collecting data from incoming first-year students on these various factors. In addition, there may be a chance to follow up with students who participated in previous studies to examine how these factors changed over time as well as the extent to which these factors predict indicators of a successful transition at Hamilton.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Interventions
Projects related to developmental disorders such as ASD entail devoting the first semester to a literature review to develop a theoretical understanding of ASD including its etiology and treatment. The literature review is coupled with regular volunteer work at a local agency such as the Clinton Elementary School (CES) or the Promise Program of the Kelberman Center. Excellent fall-semester students may be invited to conduct an empirical study during the spring semester using the methods of Applied Behavior Analysis, Social Stories, and similar techniques that the agency (CES or Promise Program) is already using for individual cases. Projects in this area are ordinarily open only to students who have had experience working with children with special needs and who have the recommendation of Hamilton faculty as reliable, independent students. A flexible academic schedule with free time through the noon hour on at least two class days, and regular transportation between campus and the project site are required. The number of placements in the local agencies is limited.