Psychology faculty member's research garners attention


Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Brooke Hansen ’08, was a finalist for the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Early Career Research Award, presented on Friday, April 7, at the SEPA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

The topic of Hansen’s study explored character strengths that promote student success. Specifically, she was interested in learning more about students’ mastery goal orientation and how these attitudes may correlate with GPA and subjective perceptions of learning and mastery.  
“The study was piloted with a student, Alexis DeFulgentis ’21, as an Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity project in Summer 2021 and was my first experience as a research mentor since joining the faculty at Bloomsburg,” Hansen said. “I continued the project after Alexa graduated and we brought on an additional research team member, Megan Kuhles ’22, who participated in the data analysis and interpretation as part of her independent study capstone toward the psychology major.” 
The research involved distributing an online, self-report survey to participants along with recruiting participants from mass-enrollment courses on campus. 
“Alexa was a student in my theories and practice of academic psychology course, in which she had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for introduction to psychology students,” Hansen said. “We decided to explore whether we saw any grade differences among students with different goal orientations - those who were focused on performance versus those who were focused on skill development and mastery. We also wondered if there were relationships between student goal orientation and other character strengths that have been shown to promote resiliency and have been related to academic success such as grit, general self-efficacy, and mindset.” 
The findings demonstrated these patterns, according to Hansen. 

“Mastery Goal Orientation was not significantly related to GPA, as we thought it may be,” Hansen said. “This does make sense, however, because students who are more focused on skill development may also be more likely to pursue courses that are challenging and build on deficient areas; whereas students focused on performance may be more likely to choose courses based on ease of getting the ‘A.’ ” 
For Hansen, the decision to do research in this area of study came from the idea that students should take courses that help them grow in areas of deficiency versus courses that require little effort. 
“It was very exciting to learn that I had been chosen as a finalist for the Early Career Research Award, especially with such a large pool of applicants who met the criteria for the award,” Hansen said. “The Southeastern Psychology Association is the largest psychological organization in the southeast and one of the largest in the United States. It was an honor to be recognized as a finalist among such an impressive group of scholars.”  
Hansen is in her eighth year as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Bloomsburg.  
“As a graduate of the psychology program at Bloomsburg, it really has been an honor to join the faculty that helped to shape and encourage my career interests,” she added. “They (the faculty) have supported me while I was an undergraduate student in our program, they were invaluable sounding-boards for ideas while I pursued my Ph.D., and they continue to be supportive as I grow in my role as an educator and researcher.”