Learning at McKendree: Guy Boysen, Ph.D.

Those who visit Professor of Psychology, Guy Boysen’s classroom will see young social scientists in action. Students are not just listening to lectures. They are helping Boysen conduct research, creating surveys and analyzing their results.

Quotation Graphic “I work at developing critical thinking and the ability to communicate. In terms of critical thinking, I try to get students to use science and logic to evaluate ideas and evidence.”

Dr. Boysen’s students watch videos of patients needing psychological treatment and make diagnoses. They also create their own psychological tests and evaluate their potential to be used for real patients.

Students also conduct individual research with Boysen as their mentor. They create and administer surveys, collect online samples of participants, analyze data and write results. He encourages students to step outside their comfort zones and play devil’s advocate.

“The most valuable thinking skill I try to instill is the ability to ‘consider the opposite’,” said Boysen. “People get stuck in evaluating evidence using the lens of what they already believe, and they miss ideas that do not fit with their preexisting beliefs. So, I try to get students to consider both sides of arguments, opposing viewpoints, and scientific evidence that contradicts the ‘folk psychology’ of everyday life that is full of myths and misconceptions.”

Boysen earned his Ph.D. in psychology from Iowa State University in 2006 and knew that he wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college. Collaborating with professors at McKendree who love their jobs inspires him.

“The support I feel here for my professional development is tremendous,” Boysen noted. “About a dozen faculty members spent four days during the last two summers attending an all-day teaching ‘boot camp.’ Although it took place early in the summer, just being around so many people that were excited about teaching made me look forward to the start of the semester, which was three months away at that point!”

Dr. Boysen’s research focus includes: psychology of the unconscious; teachers’ responses to bias and classroom incivility in the classroom; mental disorders associated with violent and nonviolent behaviors and masculine and feminine stereotypes; adult dissociative identity disorder; and female math stereotypes in the classroom.

He is certain the way he will make his mark at McKendree is by helping students make their marks. He is a scientist-teacher who encourages students to join him in his own research.

“I intentionally design my program of research to maximize the opportunities for students to be involved. Since coming to McKendree I have had students running experiments every semester, and students have also presented at professional conferences and assisted with the writing of professional journal articles every year,” said Boysen.


Quotation Graphic“This is the type of work typically reserved for graduate students, but the students I select to work with me are already performing in their classes at a grad school level, so it is a challenge that they always meet.”



More than 90% of full-time faculty at McKendree hold a Ph.D. or the highest degree in their field. Learn more about Academics at McKendree University.