Study Document

Measuring Academic Success Among Psychology Students Reflection Essay

Pages:6 (1835 words)



Topic:Academic Success

Document Type:Essay


Reflection on Peer Mentoring


Stoloff, Good, Smith and Brewster (2015) determined measures of success in a number of ways: 1) whether students attended graduate school within 5 years of graduating, 2) the departmental score on the Major Field Test for Psychology (MFT), and 3) completion of the program by students. Other factors had been tested before, including student-teacher interaction, and used as measures of success. The study by Stoloff et al. (2015) aimed to build on prior works and to show what the relation between student success and test scores, graduate school attendance, and program completion was overall. This paper will provide a summary of the article by Stoloff et al. (2015), discuss the characteristics of psychology programs that lead to success, identify other ways that success can be measured; address ways in which successful peer mentoring programs could bridge the gap, or actively support, department efforts to address the shortcomings of student success; and provide commentary on how my activities as a peer mentor translate into a successful undergraduate experience, both for me and for the students I serve.


Stoloff et al. (2015) recruited 278 chairs from 976 psychology departments throughout the US; 62 of them from schools granting doctoral degrees; 144 of them granting master’s degrees; and 72 of them from schools granting bachelor’s degrees. The researchers used the survey method of collecting data to gauge the perspective of these department chairs and one of their aims in doing so was to assess the “frequency with which students had experiences that we believed might be important to the success of psychology majors” (Stoloff et al., 2015, p. 100). The researchers wanted to see whether these experiences were seen with measures of success.

One of the experiences they looked at was the achievement of APA learning objectives. The researchers asked department chairs how many courses emphasizing these objectives were completed by 80% of students. The researchers also asked about class sizes, and other student experiences such as: student participation in research, practice with communication skills, use of technology, engagement in field placement, study abroad, participation in co-curricular activities, engagement in career preparation activities, and interaction with faculty. Development of research skills, communication skills, technology skills, and all the other experiences were measured and scored to obtain the averages. These measures of student experiences were then compared to measures of student success already described above.

The researchers found that students who had more favorable and active learning-based experiences in their courses had higher measures of success. For example, they noted that school programs in which students are active in student organizations related to their psychology major scored higher MFT/ACAT scores and these students also tended to go on to graduate school at a higher rate. In short, the more engaged learners are in their subject, in developing their skills, in preparing for a career and in getting to know teachers, the more likely they are to succeed.

Other Characteristics of Programs that Lead to Success

One of the areas in which schools fall short is in the area of classroom size. The smaller the classroom the more engaged the student is likely to be, which translates into a greater likelihood of academic success. If the school cannot afford small classes across the board, the best solution is to have introductory courses be large but higher courses be small. Another area where universities tend to fall short is in student-faculty interaction.…

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…al. (2017) have noted, and I have found this to be true in my own experience. The more times I have been able to mentor, the more confident I have become in my own studies and the more I have seen others become confident in their studies. By interacting with others, we also become more sociably connected, which builds a level of engagement that would otherwise not be seen. That level of engagement makes coming to school and getting to class and staying focused more exciting, interesting and attractive. Because we all know that we are working towards a common goal, we are all supportive of one another and a strong support system is what students need to stay committed to their goals. It is the reason student-faculty relationships are so important: they feed that encouragement and motivation.


Stoloff et al. (2015) showed that engagement is a big factor in determining students’ success as far as chairs of psychology departments are concerned. However, the study also showed that measuring success in terms of graduation, course completion and graduate school enrollment may not be enough. The researchers also recommended getting the students’ perspective on the matter. From my own experience I have found that peer mentoring is a great way to get students engaged and committed to their studies, as it has helped me become focused and it has helped the peers I have mentored. Another way to measure success, however, might be to take a long view and look at how many students go on to have satisfying careers in their field of psychology. Since the career is typically the ultimate goal, that would be a good measure for determining success and it could be compared to student…

Sample Source(s) Used


Ashbaugh, K., Koegel, R. L., & Koegel, L. K. (2017). Increasing social integration for college students with autism spectrum disorder. Behavioral development bulletin, 22(1), 183.

Hughes, A., & Fahy, B. (2009). Implementing an Undergraduate Psychology Mentoring Program. North American Journal of Psychology, 11(3).

Page, D., & Hanna, D. (2008). Peer mentoring: The students' perspective. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 7(2), 34-37.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

Stoloff, M. L., Good, M. R., Smith, K. L., & Brewster, J. (2015). Characteristics of programs that maximize psychology major success. Teaching of Psychology, 42(2), 99-108.

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