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Psychology professor named to state top 20 list

Stephanie Madsen
May 07, 2013

It’s easy to see why Stephanie Madsen is rated among the top 20 Psychology professors at Maryland colleges and universities. Behold her office: children’s bedtime storybooks litter her desk and floor, and she’s planned milk and cookies for students in her afternoon seminar as they analyze the bedtime stories from the perspective of attachment theory.

“The books, the cookies, all help translate theory into real life situations,” Madsen says, sharing credit with colleagues in the Psychology department for being passionate and dedicated to their students. “It’s a strong department, and I am really proud to be part of this team.

“We want to get our students thinking and to engage them in research.”

Madsen is known among students for classes that go beyond the theoretical, textbook concepts of the subject. She infuses reality into her classroom with activities such as bringing children and parents into her classroom or sending her students to complete service-learning projects in the community to provide immediate confrontation with values, knowledge and the real world.

As department chair since 2008, Madsen leads the team that includes a behavioral neuroscientist as well as cognitive, social, behavioral and counseling psychologists. Madsen, director of the college’s Honors Program and a professor since 2001, extends the department’s expertise as a developmental psychologist.

Among the most popular majors at McDaniel, Psychology leads graduates to a diversity of careers.

“Our graduates tell us that they feel well prepared to take on graduate level studies – and they often go on to earn Ph.D.’s,” says Madsen, who notes that McDaniel alumna Jennifer McCabe, a professor at Goucher College, is also among the top 20 Psychology professors honored by Online Schools Maryland. “Psychology majors go on to do all kinds of things – life coaching, speech pathology, teaching, and careers in business.”

A magna cum laude graduate of Carleton College in 1996 with a master’s and doctorate in child psychology from the University of Minnesota, Madsen is the author of more than 15 major journal articles and cited by Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio for her work on adolescent romantic relationships. As director of McDaniel’s Honors Program, she inspires students to take leadership roles on campus.

Beyond the classroom, Madsen’s students are her research collaborators, her co-authors on published academic papers, and her protégés. When she presents papers at invited academic conferences such as the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence or the annual meeting of The Society of Research in Child Development, her student co-authors are by her side.