At Argosy University, we’re proud of our talented and experienced faculty members, who bring years of industry knowledge and expertise to the classroom. Today, we’re introducing Maria LaFrance, PhD, an Assistant Professor in our College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences.
Dr. LaFrance's expertise includes behavioral neuroscience, substance abuse and higher and postsecondary education. She has been published in many peer-reviewed journals and is a member of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Women in Neuroscience and Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience.
Q: How did you get into teaching?
ML: I started teaching in graduate school. At that time, I really had no interest in teaching, and I wanted to spend my time doing research. However, the first time I saw a psychology student’s eyes open wide and jaw drop when they grasped a new concept that excited them, I was hooked!
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being an instructor?
ML: For me, it’s knowing that—on some level—I am touching students’ lives on a regular basis. Whether they have learned from me the effects of drugs of abuse, the options for prevention programs for teens at risk for substance abuse, the dangers of energy drinks, or how to use American Psychological Association (APA) format correctly, I have done something to touch their lives, broaden their horizons, and learn something new.
Q: What's new in the psychology field that you find most engaging?
ML: In the substance abuse field, the most interesting area is the interaction between pharmacotherapies (medications for treating substance) and traditional psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. The vast majority of the research in this field has focused on either using pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy, but not the combination of both to improve the outcome for the client. This up-and-coming area of research is going to be fascinating as it continues to evolve.
Q: Outside of teaching, describe your most interesting project.
ML: With several other Argosy University faculty members, I’ve been working on a research project looking at the relationship between coping strategies and work-life boundaries. As an online instructor, I’ve become very familiar over the past 7 years of how fuzzy the boundary between work and life can be when working from home.
This project has been immensely interesting to me on many levels, not only from a personal standpoint, but also because I think our research results could eventually help our faculty and maybe even our students learn to better manage the boundaries between work (and school) and life.
Q: Why would you recommend Argosy University?
ML: There are many advantages to Argosy University, namely the individualized attention in every class. Most of our courses (even at the introductory level) contain around 15 students. This small classroom atmosphere makes it very easy to get individualized attention and support. You also get to know your classmates well through discussion interactions.
Q: What advice would you give students to help them succeed?
ML: There are 3 main pieces of advice I can impart:
(1) Read the assignment instructions and rubric carefully
(2) Read the announcements carefully
(3) Ask for help when you need it
Asking for help could range from asking for clarification on an assignment or an extension because of an illness or emergency to seeking writing help in the tutoring center, APA help in the APA Learning Center, or help through the Counseling and Disability Services.
Never be afraid to ask for help! Argosy University is one of the most supportive student environments I have been lucky to be a part of; there is always someone available to help you in some way.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
ML: In addition to classes and support resources, Argosy University also has a thriving student activities network, even for online students! I serve as one of the faculty advisors for the Psychology Club which meets once a month through an online webinar. We have guest speakers come in to speak on a variety of topics interesting to students including psychology topics such as online and alternative therapies, and the changes in the DSM-5, as well as topics on scholarships and fellowships, volunteering, networking, and writing resumes.