PSYC 101: Introduction to Psychology

Name: Rachel Lee
Hometown: Everett, Wash.
Major: Psychology
Professor: Christina Graham, visiting assistant professor of psychology

Psych 101

Rachel’s advice to first-year students: “I’ve seen students come to college over-confident. They think, ‘if I can maintain the same level of effort as I did in high school, I’ll do OK.’ But that won’t cut it here. Now you’re dealing with the big boys.”

When Rachel Lee ’13 told a senior biology major that she had switched majors and declared psychology, he responded with a laugh: “You had professor Graham, didn’t you? She steals all the biology majors!”

Of course, that isn’t really the case. But it does speak to the reputation professor Graham has earned from her Psychology 101 class, a popular general university requirement and a prerequisite for psychology majors. At approximately 100 students, it is probably the largest class Lee will ever take at PLU – by far.

To Lee, Psych 101 never felt too big. “I came to PLU because I wanted small classes, to be at a place where the professor makes eye contact and calls you by your name,” Lee said.

That is an important part of professor Graham’s instruction. She works hard to know each student’s name, even in a larger class like this. Graham knows the best way to teach complex psychological concepts is to engage students on a personal level.

“I challenge them to keep an open mind and to see the material in their everyday lives,” said Graham. “It leads to lively discussions in class. When they learn they are playing out the subject matter every day, it becomes real to them.”

That connection is key for Lee. It not only makes her class feel smaller, but it also helped her adjust to university-level studies. “When you have that one-on-one connection, it is easier to ask a question in class or drop in during office hours.”

That connection has resulted in a big payoff for Lee. She’s been able to merge her love for biology and psychology – through talking with professor Graham, she found that she could do both. Someday, Lee hopes to practice neuropsychology.

To read about SOCI 190, click here.

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