Honors Course Contract – Abnormal Psychology

Honors Course Contracts provide students who are pursuing an Honors graduation distinction the opportunity to earn Honors credit for courses that are not already being offered as Honors. The Honors Course Contract experience varies depending on the discipline, course material, and instructor. No matter what the expectation, though, students can expect an Honors Course Contract to ask for higher-level thinking and reflection.

 In the following post, senior psychology major and Undergraduate Research Scholar Julia McDonald ’17, describes her experience with an Honors Course Contract in PSYC 306 – Abnormal Psychology. McDonald is pursuing the Honors in Psychology departmental Honors distinction.

By Julia McDonald

I have always been interested in the enigma that is the human mind. The complexities of the human experience and the pervasive nature of psychopathology is what first prompted my interest in the study of psychology. However it wasn’t until college when I really began to immerse myself in the study of psychology. I am currently in the process of applying for PhD programs in clinical psychology and I aspire to have a career in academia at a university with a strong research mandate. The experiences I have gained through the psychology honors program have been instrumental in my ability to pursue graduate studies by encouraging me to not only be a consumer of knowledge but to also create new knowledge by researching within my field.

This fall I enrolled in Dr. LeUnes’s abnormal psychology (PSYC 306) honors course. As stated in the A&M catalog the course focuses on “behavior pathology; functional and organic psychoses, psychoneurosis, character disorders, psychophysiological disorders, alcohol and drug addiction and mental retardation; therapeutic and diagnostic methods.” However the greatest lessons Dr. LeUnes teaches in his class cannot be found in the textbook, they are from his own lifetime of experiences in the field of psychology. Dr. LeUnes believes in supplementing what is in the book with real world experience. For this reason for over 40 years now, Dr. LeUnes takes his PSYC 306 class on two fieldtrips: the Brenham State Supported Living Center and the Giddings State School. These fieldtrips allow the student to understand first hand what intellectual disability looks like as well as juvenile delinquency. No other abnormal psychology class at A&M offers this unique experience other than Dr. LeUnes’s class.

Julia McDonald '17 (left) with Dr. LeUnes (center) on a field trip to Brenham Supported Living Center.
Julia McDonald ’17 (left) with Dr. LeUnes (center) on a field trip to Brenham Supported Living Center.

By far the greatest thing about taking honors with Dr. LeUnes is that he is extremely flexible and will go out of his way to work with students who are interested in doing research or pursue a career in psychology. Dr. LeUnes offered to let me take the regular (non-honors) PSYC 306 section and get honors credit by completing an independent research project under his advisement. So not only did I get honors credit but also I got a chance to gain experience with research. Under Dr. LeUnes’s advisement I conducted a literature review on how the classic Little Albert experiment is reported in modern of abnormal psychology textbooks. My review examined how the Little Albert experiment is often misreported and therefore authors, teachers, and promoters of psychology should not be so quick to market this landmark study as an example of scientific validity and historical saliency until all of the inaccuracies in reporting have been addressed. My study is currently under consideration for publication in an academic journal and I will be presenting at several psychological conferences this semester.

My desire to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology is what has inspired me to take abnormal psychology at the honors level and to pursue research whenever I can. However, Dr. LeUnes’s class is not only calibrated to those wishing to seek a career in clinical psychology, but rather to anyone who is interested by the human experience. I would without reservation recommend Dr. LeUnes’s class to anyone! He definitely makes the class interesting to say the least! With all of Dr. LeUnes’s accumulated experience, there is never a concept he teaches without being accompanied by a story of personal experience. Dr. LeUnes loves to teach, he loves to inspire and he loves to help determined students reach their dreams. After taking abnormal psychology honors with him I can without a doubt say that I have learned more than I ever thought I would, been inspired by his kindness and lifetime of accomplishments, and gained research experience that has made me a competitive applicant for graduate school in clinical psychology. Dr. LeUnes is likely the best teacher and mentor that I’ve ever had! So if you have the opportunity to take honors PSYC 306, do it!

To learn more about contracting a course for Honors credit, please visit http://honors.tamu.edu/Honors/Earning-Honors-Credit.

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