SAU’s psychology department gains with Phillips
Laurinburg, N.C. - With the start of the new semester, students in the psychology program at St. Andrews University are benefitting from the addition of Dr. Ann G. Phillips to the faculty.
"We are excited and pleased to welcome Dr. Phillips," said Dr. John A. Knesel, Chair of Natural and Life Sciences and Associate Professor of Biology. "She is coming to us with a great deal of experience and energy as well as bringing new ideas to our program.”
Phillips for her part is excited to be on campus and in the classroom.
"I am excited to meet people and really look forward to getting to know the students," she said. "I wanted to come to a liberal arts college in the southeast. I saw the ad and applied. I knew nothing about St. Andrews until I Googled the name, but once I started talking about it people came out of the woodwork to share stories. I wanted to go somewhere where the people are nice and St. Andrews definitely fits the bill."
Phillips is familiar with North Carolina having earned both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Experimental/Social Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also holds a B.S. in Psychology from Berry College.
Having taught courses at UNC-G, High Point University and Elon University, she comes to St. Andrews from an assistant professor position at Huntingdon College, where she also spent some time as department chair while also serving on several committees and being a part of a variety of campus groups.
"I have taught a wide variety of courses that include general psychology, statistics, research methods, social psychology, theories of personality, psychology of women, a self seminar, positive psychology, history and systems, and senior capstone," she shared. "I've also taught a few non-psychological classes - a first year experience class for incoming freshmen and two travel seminars on Puerto Rico and London."
She admits that some of her favorite classes to teach have been the travel courses, although psychology remains her passion.
"In social psychology classes, we occasionally have a day of people watching that includes recreating classic studies such as the classic elevator experiment by Ash or the 'door study' by Simons and Levin demonstrating change blindness," she said.
In order to share her passion for psychology with students, she has several tricks up her sleeve to get the students engaged from the start.
"On the first day of class, I ask students to introduce themselves, why they are taking the class, and if they are involved in any extracurricular activities," she said. "While covering course content is important, knowing the students allows me to cater course materials to each group of students and catch the interests of individuals in that class. For example, if I know that I have soccer and basketball players in the class, I use concrete examples of psychological concepts involving soccer and basketball.
"I also strive to spark interest and involvement in class topics by encouraging class discussions, demonstrating my enthusiasm for Psychology, providing concrete examples of abstract constructs, and integrating a little humor whenever possible," she continued. "Discussions are one of my favorite pedagogical tools. Encouraging students to share their opinions and then support those opinions with facts and logic encourages learning and fosters critical thinking skills. And a little scholarly disagreement can energize a class."
Phillips demonstrated her classroom techniques for fellow faculty during a summer presentation, "The Emotional Consequences of Self-Discrepancies - Should I, or Do I Want To?" During the hour long session she shared data on two of her own research driven publications on the psychological concept of self.
"Most of my research to date involves the self and emotions, especially self-discrepancy types and corresponding emotions," she said. "I have also worked with emotional concepts, self-awareness, and individual differences. Recently I have become involved with a project that concerns community pride and involvement in an underprivileged, inner-city community of primarily African Americans."
With eight publications and six poster presentations to date, Phillips can share the research experience with the students in a broad way.
"Both my self research and my interest in community psychology have opportunities for student involvement and collaboration," she said. "I look forward to working with students who are interested in either area. Collaborations, research assistance and independent studies are always welcome with me.
"Experiential learning experiences are also another technique that I integrate into classes whenever possible - the hands-on experiences provide first-hand knowledge of how psychology and psychological research 'works.'"
As enthusiastic as Phillips is about psychology and teaching, it is a challenge to picture her in any other field. However, she does have a back up plan based on a combination of two other passions - travel and water sports.
"If I weren’t teaching I would be a beach bum, renting wave runners, teaching people to do water sports in a tropical location," she shared with a smile. "I have a passport and credit card standing by should I decide to pursue that opportunity."