Applied Educational Psychology and School Psychology Students, Graduates, and Professor Present at the International Council of Psychologists Conference

ADPSP Students at the ICP Virtual Conference

Applied Educational Psychology and School Psychology (AEPSP) students, graduates, and Professor Deborah Stiles presented at the International Council of Psychologists (ICP) virtual conference. The title of their presentation was, “COVID-19, Teachers, Mental Health Professionals, Well-Being, and International Children’s Rights.”  

This was the 55th peer-reviewed, collaborative, multi-method professional presentation that the Webster University AEPSP programs have given at national/international psychology or social science conferences. 

During the conference, held in Dec. 2022, Professor Debbie Stiles elaborated about the success of the program. “We are successful because of a process called ‘masked review,’” Stiles said. “When we submit a proposal, our affiliation and names are omitted. The reviewers don’t know if we’re from Harvard or Webster, and don’t know if we’re several famous professors or just students. The proposals are judged on their own merits. It is extraordinary that we have presented 55 peer-reviewed professional presentations at big deal conferences. The students love this work because we contribute to the ‘knowledge base’ and make a positive impact on the lives of at-risk children and families.”  

Joseph Parks, a student in the Educational Psychology program, shared his gratitude for the opportunity to present at the ICP conference.  

“One of the most remarkable things about the Webster educational psychology program is that it gives you opportunities to be more than just a student; it allows you to participate in professional dialogues in your field,” Parks said. “One of the best parts of the ICP conference was it didn’t feel like we were students, it felt like we were part of the conversation in the global community. It was an honor to be surrounded by psychology experts and to exchange thoughts with them!” 

In 2020, the group began their collaborative studies of the psychological impact of COVID-19 on schools. At the 2020 ICP virtual conference, they presented on a topic of, “The Impact of COVID-19 on PreK-12 Teachers, School-Based Mental Health Professionals, and their Abilities to Support International Children’s Rights: A Preliminary Investigation.” In 2022, they presented a follow-up study that compared the 2022 responses with the responses from 2020. 

The AEPSP group hypothesized that the negative impact of COVID-19 on school-professionals and children would be less severe in 2022 than previous years. Their hypothesis proved to be incorrect - no significant differences were found on the questionnaire. Participants from both time periods described highly negative COVID experiences.  

Open-ended comments on the questionnaire illustrated losses and struggles. Participants expressed dismay about placing themselves at risk and feeling a lack of control at school. Responses showed that participants did not feel school administrators understood the extreme stress they were experiencing. Some participants even expressed wanting to quit their jobs.  

However, responses also revealed a handful of school professionals were able to cope well with the pandemic. These individuals described the importance of finding meaning and purpose in their work as well as having supportive, enjoyable personal connections and some sense of control at school.  

Professor Stiles’ teaching approach may be the reason this group of students has been successful in and out of the classroom during the pandemic years, contrary to what their study found to be the case in most environments.  

“My main goal as a professor and psychologist is to do more than teach my applied psychology graduate students,” Stiles said. “I seek to empower them to dream big and collaborate on research projects about important topics.” 

2022 conference presenters included Stiles, Webster University graduates Keary Ritchie, Laura Axtetter, and Lisa Tigue, and current Webster University students Joseph Parks, Diana Carvajal Endara, Michelle Gestring, Jessica Brown, Michelle Kimbrough, and Stephan Baker. 

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