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August 29, 2007

New Psychology Lab Allows Live Experiments

George I. Alden Trust Funded Project

The finishing touches are being put on the new Psychology lab at St. Francis College and professors and students alike are already overflowing with ways to put the new software and hardware to the test.

"The lab really opens up whole new areas of study and research for our psychology students," said Dr. Michele Hirsch, one of the professors teaching classes in the lab. "One of the projects we have planned will use stimulus pads to measure muscle memory as it relates to sports psychology. It'll take a look at how effective it is to mentally visualize your actions before you do it, like how a diver will picture themselves tumbling and twisting before jumping off a diving board. Another will gauge the value students put on information depending on where it comes from. Are people more likely to believe words on a web page than a photocopy? Is it easier or harder for people to tell the difference between bias and constructive criticism when they're online?"

The new lab, largely funded by the George I. Alden Trust, holds 22 student computers that run advanced programs such as "Superlab," enabling students to conduct classic psychological experiments first-hand instead of just studying them in textbooks. Students also have access to SPSS, a top statistical software program that will help students greatly cut down the amount of time it takes to analyze research. The lab includes an interactive Smart "whiteboard," which allows for interactive text, photos and video to be shared with the class and an observation room with a two-way mirror that lets students study experiments involving both individuals and groups.

"It was vital for us to put our students on par with leading undergraduate psychology programs across the country," said Vice President for Academic Affairs Tim Houlihan. "The field as a whole is now putting great emphasis on experimentation. In fact, all our psychology students are required to take experimental psychology. Now our students will graduate from St. Francis with the tools and experience they need to move on to graduate school or careers in psychology fields."

Another benefit is that students can work on research projects that they will be able to present to peers from other colleges and universities and at major conferences across the country.

"Over the past five years, students have won four research awards for posters they have presented at local and regional conferences," said Professor Hirsch. "That's a pretty impressive number for a small school like ours. And now with the new lab, so many more of our students will be able to compete on a regional and national level."

"We have made huge strides in the past few years in adding to and upgrading our facilities here at St. Francis," said St. Francis College President Frank Macchiarola. "We owe it to grant providers like the Alden Trust and our very generous alumni who make these great projects possible."

In the past five years, St. Francis College has added a new multi-purpose full-sized gymnasium, state-of-the-art academic center with smart classrooms, HDTV studio, theater and library and a new student lounge. The College has also renovated the physical fitness center, numerous classrooms and locker rooms.

The George I Alden Trust of Worcester, MA. The Trust was established on August 24, 1912 for the general purpose of "the maintenance of some charitable or philanthropic enterprises" with particular expressed interest in "the promotion of education in schools, colleges or other educational universities." The Trustees support institutions that demonstrate a combination of educational excellence, exciting programming, and efficient and effective administration (

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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