Project-based Study Explores Causes and Consequences of Human Behavior
Submitted on December 18, 2018
Service learning is an integral part of project-based studies at Georgetown College. This past fall, for the third consecutive year, students in Dr. Karyn McKenzie’s Psychology and the Law college course and Elkhorn Crossing School (Scott County, Ky.) juniors in Mr. Michael Tackett's Trial Advocacy course collaborated to explore causes and consequences of human behavior. Participants are pictured above.
Throughout the semester, each college student group researches its case’s psychological aspects (e.g., defendant’s background, public opinion of the case), while each high school group investigates its case’s legal aspects (Did the defendant have a guilty mind? What evidence shows the defendant committed various elements of the crime?).
The cases researched and analyzed this year included those of serial killer Ted Bundy, kidnapper Ariel Castro, serial killer David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), serial killer and rapist John Wayne Gacy, murderer Andrea Yates, and killer Edward Gein.
The objective is for the students to acquire a deeper knowledge of real-world issues and challenges which they then share with one another during a Research Showcase presentation held in the month of November.
“Benefits to the students include gaining experience researching and synthesizing case material, becoming experts on cases they previously knew little about, becoming involved in a group within the community, and applying concepts and theories to real cases,” commented Professor McKenzie. “They are doing something different from the typical research paper assignment and getting to know their own group members and all service learning participants better.”
Of the collaborative project, Mr. Tackett said, "It has been an honor to work with Dr. McKenzie and her students. This project allows my students to enhance their critical analysis and presentation skills; giving them an opportunity to prove to themselves that they are well on their way to being ready for college."
Students in Mr. Tackett's class were equally enthusiastic. Casey O'Connell remarked, "I benefited through working with the college students and Dr. McKenzie because it helped me see other aspects of the trial. Not just the investigation and the criminal justice side. But also the psychological side,"
Lindsay Dawson concurred. "I feel like it helped my professionalism, in getting to connect and work with other people on a project, and it also helped me get an understanding of college life."
Besides the collaboration, ECS students spend a day on the Georgetown College campus where they attend a Psychology and the Law class, tour the campus, enjoy lunch in the college’s Montgomery Cafeteria, and explore other interests such as pre-law.
Dr. McKenzie is Professor of Psychology; Mr. Tackett, JD, is a 2000 and 2012 alumnus of Georgetown College, and a licensed attorney.