Since she began teaching online at the start of the new millennium, Maria Lavooy has seen rapid advances in technology transform the virtual classroom, from swifter Internet connections to enriched learning platforms.
“This has allowed our program to offer the best of what a face-to-face class and an online class has to offer,” said Lavooy, Assistant Professor and Applied Psychology Online Program Chair at Florida Institute of Technology.
"I believe psychology will continue to contribute to multicultural and cross-cultural education"
A longtime educator and past president of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology, Lavooy has described her approach to student engagement as the “2 I’s” – interactivity and immediacy.
We spoke with Lavooy about her interest in psychology, Florida Tech’s 100% online BA in Applied Psychology program, and the importance of diversity awareness and cross-cultural education.
Q. Can you tell us about your background and how you developed an interest in psychology?
I was pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology, specifically animal behavior, when I was invited to join a biopsychology honors program. A number of courses in various disciplines were required, including some in psychology, in order to complete the honors program. I enjoyed the psychology classes so much I considered a double major in biology and psychology. However, I was accepted into a doctoral program in animal behavior at Miami University, Ohio, before I completed the psychology major. The animal behavior program was offered through the Psychology Department; therefore, I earned an MA and a PhD in Psychology.
Q. What attracted you to Florida Institute of Technology (FIT)?
I started working at FIT in May of 2010; however, I have lived in Melbourne since 1994. So, of course, I was very familiar with the university and its wonderful reputation. My first teaching position was at a small, private university and I always desired to return to that environment. When a position for which I was qualified opened up at FIT, I jumped at the opportunity to work there. I had worked and presented with faculty from FIT while working at a large, public university in the area. These collaborations with FIT faculty made transitioning back to a private university an easy one and the right one for me.
Q. Why should prospective students consider enrolling in Florida Tech’s 100% online BA in Applied Psychology degree programs?
Not everyone can live in the Central Florida area to avail themselves of on-campus FIT classes. The online program allows students who live all over the world, who must move often or who cannot attend on-campus classes for various reasons to earn a degree from a university with high standards and a national reputation.
All faculty who teach in the program have degrees, expertise and extensive professional experience, so students benefit at all levels. From a general academic perspective, students gain the critical-thinking, the problem-solving, and the oral, writing and interpersonal communication skills required to be successful employees in today’s market.
Q. You have spent a significant portion of your teaching career in online instruction. How has the online delivery of degree programs changed in that time?
Rapidly changing and developing technology has afforded advances in offering online classes. Faster and better computers, more user-friendly learning platforms and more widespread availability of Internet access have made teaching and learning easier than ever. This has allowed our program to offer the best of what a face-to-face class and an online class has to offer.
Q. Given the increasing diversity of college students nationwide, do you anticipate a growing role in psychology programs for coursework related to multicultural issues?
Increasingly, employers value employees who are aware and sensitive to issues of culture, class, race and ethnicity. Psychology has always been in the forefront of respecting and increasing diversity awareness through the offering of courses, through the incorporation of diversity issues in classes and through much of the research conducted.
With the growing diversity in this country, I believe psychology will continue to contribute to multicultural and cross-cultural education, playing its part in raising public awareness of diversity, both in terms of its issues and its richness, and the part that people of all classes, races and ethnicities play in the development and growth of our country.
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