HISTORY OF MUSKINGUM'S PSYCHOLOGY DEPARTMENT


The sources employed in this overview are the college catalogues, department files, and two previous summaries by two chairmen and Professors of Psychology, J. J. Smith (History of the Psychology Department of Muskingum College: prepared for the college's 1937 centennial celebration) and H. E. Titus (a collection of historical data generated by his history of psychology students in 1976).

PSYCHOLOGY FROM 1867 to 1937

Psychology has been taught at Muskingum College for well over a century. Presumably, the first course originated in 1867's Department of Philosophy which offered a course, Mental Philosophy as a required senior capstone for all students. It was taught in two semester-long, sequenced divisions: 1. Intellect and 2. Feeling and Will and served as a core element in the curriculum until about 1900. In 1896 "psychology" was first used to identify a course (Psychology: The Intellect) which essentially replaced the Mental Philosophy course, but had the same content. By 1911 the department of Philosophy had expanded to include two psychology instructors who taught and developed several psychology courses which were largely designed to prepare teachers. These were introduced over a nine year period beginning with Teachers Psychology (1908), and followed by Social Psychology (1910), Elementary Psychology (1912), Genetic Psychology (1912), Psychology for Teachers (1915), Educational Psychology (1916), and Psychology of Vocal Expression (1917). In addition, Psychology courses were offered by other departments (Speech: Psychology of Speech; Economics: Psychology of Advertising)

In 1920 the Department of Psychology was established. It was separated from the Philosophy Department with its own major under its first head, Professor John Coleman. In 1921 more courses were added: General Psychology (a sophomore year requirement for graduation), Psychology of Character and Experimental Psychology. There were three historical trends during this period. First, psychology was increasingly taught as a science. Second, it was offered earlier in the liberal arts curriculum. Third, it was increasingly applied to professional and vocational lines.

PSYCHOLOGY SINCE 1937

Professor J. J. Smith succeeded Coleman as Department Chairman and the program reflected his interest in social psychology and changed little from 1937 to his retirement in 1953. Since then, a series of major developments have led to a modern, well defined curriculum. These can be summarized in six phases:

  • Phase I.
    The psychology department was part of the college's division of "Life and Thought" along with Bible, Philosophy, and Religion. There were no laboratories and very little research was done by either students or faculty. Although a number of students went on for advanced degrees, these were in social service areas rather than the scientific/academic areas. The program was designed more to serve students seeking teacher certification rather than the college liberal arts program.

  • Phase II.
    In 1959 the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Undergraduate Education published highly regarded guidelines for solid psychology programs. Although the college lacked proper facilities or equipment, four courses were revised to incorporate laboratory work. This was due to the persistence of a succession of young instructors who creatively worked towards adoption of the committee's recommendations.

  • Phase III.
    With an influx of a larger, more experienced staff in the 1960's, the department began a more formal incorporation of the APA standards. The department had consisted of two master's level instructors (Ludeman and Coffield) and two adjuncts teaching one quarter time or less. These were replaced with three Ph.D.'s (Chan, Kaiser, and Titus), a Master's with experience (Nagle) and two part time teachers (Orr and Leathers). For years each major had been required to write a senior review paper. This was modified to require that the core of these papers consist of independent research conducted by the student under the supervision of a staff member. (The department maintains a library of copies of each senior paper from 1943 to the present day which are listed HERE) . To support these changes, a section of the basement of Montgomery Hall was made available for faculty offices, classes, and research. And, a modest equipment budget was provided. On a limited scale, both faculty and students became more actively involved in research. More students were attracted to psychology and the program was considerably strengthened.

  • Phase IV.
    By the end of the sixties, the department had more fully evolved into a modern phase in which the program was centered on psychology as an experimental science. Over time, psychology had been weaned of its origins in the Philosophy Department and the Division of Religion and Thought, but it was generally presented as a branch philosophy with little need for experiments or laboratories. For example, when asked to participate in the planning of the college's new science center in 1965, Chairman Rick Kaiser turned down the offer without consulting the department, saying "...we only need books to teach". Fortunately, Kaiser became an administrator and was succeeded by H. Edwin Titus who initiated several changes leading towards a greater emphasis on research and independent studies. He was instrumental in reversing this orientation and modernizing the program. Titus remodeled the classrooms to also serve as labs, recruited faculty who were committed to research, and successfully sought increased funding.

    In 1967 the college changed the divisional structure and Titus saw to it that the department became a member of both the Science and Social Science Divisions. In 1968 the department was awarded an equipment grant of $15,800 from NSF in support of the new, experimentally oriented program. The staff consisted of four and a half faculty, Dom Costanzo, Dave Skeen, Bud Taylor, Ed Titus, and Louis Cunningham (an administrator in charge of the college's counseling program). A large classroom in the basement of Montgomery Hall was remodeled to include six individual research modules and three rooms were fitted with one way vision mirrors to allow candid observation of activities. In addition, a demonstration lab, small shop and recording facility were created. These enabled a number of projects using human subjects. Animal research facilities were established remotely in an old laundry building located next to the water tower across from Sunrise Acres, an off-campus housing area. This building contained three racks of Wahman rat cages, a number of small animal cages (used for mice, toads, etc.), a large aquatic tank, and an observation bee hive. A small surgery room housed stereotaxic equipment. By 1969 the department had a staff that was more research oriented and better represented the diverse areas of psychology (Costanzo-comparative/statistics; Skeen-experimental/learning; Taylor-physiological/clinical; Titus-social/testing). In addition, a part time counseling psychologist (Cunningham) actively participated in the program. The college supported the program with a substantially increased equipment budget which complimented an NSF scientific equipment grant which supported the purchase of several apparati (notably, modern stereotaxic and lesion devices, 8 operant chambers with moduled programming racks, video recorders and monitors, reaction time equipment, 4 mirror tracing mazes, and miscellaneous general experimental devices). This allowed an expansion of the laboratory facilities and the number of courses with labs was increased to six. By the end of the decade there was a considerable improvement in the diversity and quality of student research and all staff members were professionally active, publishing original research.

  • Phase V.
    At the start of the 1970's the college engaged in a major building campaign, constructing the (Boyd) Science Center and renovating Cambridge Hall. Titus worked to insure that the Cambridge Hall changes served the needs of the psychology program. In 1972 the department moved into the second floor of Cambridge Hall, which had been customized to serve the psychology program. It provided for the first time under one roof everything needed to operate a solid program. Classrooms, research rooms, animal colonies, and even a nursery school were now housed on the 2nd floor. The department had participated in a nursery school program operated in a rented public hall in downtown, New Concord by staff spouses (Mary Cunningham & Phyllis Taylor). This FACILITY was designed to house the preschool and better integrate it within the department's program. The number of majors continued to increase and the college approved a request to add a psychologist (William Schonberg) to a newly established developmental position.

  • Phase VI.
    The past 20 years have been marked by few setbacks and many successes in the department's effort to present a solid, modern understanding of psychology as both a science and a service. Our preschool has been expanded into a full service developmental program, The Muskingum Center for Child Development. The five faculty positions are filled, and in 1991 the department was awarded an NSF grant of $36,857 for new equipment and upgrades. This award served to computerize the facility and vastly improve the experimental core of the program. The computerized equipment and programs have been integrated into all laboratory and method courses and students are repeatedly exposed to experimental techniques & protocols at increasingly higher levels as they move from the basic Experimental courses to the upper level labs and ultimately to their independent projects. In addition to the degree requirements, majors are strongly encourged to engage in professional activities. We regularly attend the Midwestern Psychological Association meeting with students, many of whom have presented papers. Our students are active participants in the Ohio Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference and since 1980, hundreds of our undergraduates have made professional presentations and demonstrations for visiting high school teachers and students during our annual Psychology Fair program.


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