Graduate program’s ratings rise thanks to faculty research

By Anna Flagg

The School of Education’s department of educational psychology in the Baylor Graduate School is a small program but is keeping up with large state university research activity.

The program is currently ranked sixth among private institutions, according to data released in April from Academic Analytics — an organization dedicated to providing academic business intelligence data.

The data also noted that in the United States the program is ranked 34th overall, making notable strides from last year’s No. 54 ranking.

The educational psychology department offers an undergraduate degree in special education and four graduate options.

The graduate options include a doctoral program, a master’s of arts program, a master’s of science in education program, and an educational specialist degree program in school psychology.

The program is small, with 10 full-time faculty members and about 10 students per class, but it is still able to keep up with larger institutions.

Dr. Marley Watkins, professor and the chairman of the department of educational psychology, left Arizona State University to work at Baylor this fall.

“I think our success can be attributed to our size,” Watkins said. “Students really know their professors here due to the size of the program, and that is unheard of at state schools.”

Watkins said most rating agencies are empirical and base their research on reputation and opinions, which he said he believes can give off faulty and subjective information.

According to its website, Academic Analytics does the opposite and compares research activity at various institutions rather than basing a judgement on their reputations. Academic Analytics ranks doctoral programs through the scholarly productivity of the faculty.

“Even though our department is small, we excel in publishing scholarly journals and books as well as conducting scientific research,” Watkins said. “That is why we did so well in the rankings.”

Cathryn Clark, a first-year student in the educational psychology master’s program, came to Baylor from Pepperdine University.

She said she wanted to work in schools but did not necessarily want to be a teacher, which she said made Baylor the perfect fit.

“It is fun to finally be in classes pertaining to what I am going to be doing in the future,” Clark said. “The professors are involved in the community so we get to hear real-life scenarios from school psychologists in Waco I.S.D. as well as parents of children with disabilities.”

Watkins said he hopes that more people become aware of the program in the future.

“Psychology is a popular undergraduate major, but a lot of students are unaware of the opportunities in the school of psychology for careers,” Watkins said.

“Our hope is to create interest and help people understand the possibilities for future careers in psychology,” he said.