Study Highlights Success of Bryn Mawr’s Clinical Developmental Psychology Program

Posted December 12th, 2013 at 2:30 pm.

A new study to be published in Training and Education in Professional Psychology identifies Bryn Mawr’s Clinical Developmental Psychology Program (CDPP) as one of five “top programs”  in clinical psychology out of 233 programs across the country.  The rankings are based on analysis of outcomes such as internship match and licensure exam performance.

Bryn Mawr’s high ranking in the study was due to several factors, chief among them the program’s success in the national match in which students  obtain pre-doctoral internships across the country.

“The match rate nationally has been less than 80 percent for the last five to ten years. Our match rate over the period covered by this study was 100 percent. So we’re way above the norm,” says CDPP Director and Professor of Psychology Marc Schulz. “It’s something we as a community take great pride in and work hard to accomplish and it’s also a testament to the quality of our students.”

Another factor the study’s authors took into account was whether students in a program did better in terms of outcomes than some traditional pre-doctoral indicators like GPA and GRE might suggest.

“This is a finding that I think speaks to graduate education more broadly here at Bryn Mawr,” says Schulz. “Because of our small size we’re able to carefully review each applicant and look at factors beyond those that are easiest to measure and find those rising stars.  We also train our graduate students in an intellectually rich and demanding environment that fosters their further development.”

In addition to the news about the study findings, the program recently celebrated the fact that two of its students had their research published in flagship journals in the field. Breanna M. Winder, along with her faculty mentor, Robert Wozniak, published work from her master’s thesis in the Journal of Developmental Psychology. Jacoba Johnson Zaring’s research was published in Psychological Science.

In an article titled “Spontaneous Initiation of Communication in Infants at Low and Heightened Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Winder and Wozniak built upon research that indicates significant language delay in many children at high risk for autism by looking at a wider range of vocal and gestural communicative behaviors during infancy and found a similar pattern.

Zaring’s research, which was conducted with lead author Sarah Shomstein of George Washington University, examined the effect of reward on visual attention paid to objects, behavior that is largely considered automatic.

“We found that reward alone, not the objects, guides attentional selection and thus entirely predicts behavior. These results suggest that guidance of selective attention, although automatic, is flexible and can be adjusted in accordance with external nonsensory reward-based factors,” write the authors.

The CDPP offers doctoral training and education in clinical psychology for men and women. The CDPP integrates training in research, teaching, and clinical intervention in a scientist-practitioner program emphasizing developmental perspectives across the lifespan. Training and classes explore adaptation and development within key social contexts, including families, schools, and cultural traditions and influences. For more information, visit the program website.

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