Faculty members continue to expand their fields through research

Mark Sibicky lecturing at a podium

McCoy Professor of Psychology Dr. Mark Sibicky uses a unique analogy when it comes to his research.

“I think of it in terms of a parade. I always want to be in the parade, and I know I won’t be at the front of it, but at least I’m not standing on the sidewalk watching it go by,” he said. 

For professors at Marietta College, teaching is the primary focus, so research conducted by faculty often involves their students or impacts the educational aspect of their field. Recently, two research projects by faculty were published in professional journals and will help other professors in their fields improve their teaching techniques.

Sibicky is the first author of a research article in the journal, Teaching of Psychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association. The article, “Psychological Misconceptions and their Relation to Students’ Lay Believes of Mind,” is co-authored by former Marietta professor, Dr. Chris Klein, and Master of Arts in Psychology graduate Emily Embrescia MAP’17.

Grace Johnson smiling while teaching a classGrace Johnson, McCoy Professor of Accounting, also recently had a research article featured in the ISACA Journal, which is published by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, an organization that serves IT governance professionals. The article, “Preparing for the Next Generation of Auditing: A World Influenced by Data Analytics,” looks at the growing role that data analytics plays in driving business decisions, and also the technical and soft skills that auditors need to possess.

“Several years ago, I applied for and received a Plankey Professorship,” said Sibicky, who is in his 30th year of teaching. “We got the idea while teaching Intro Psychology. In subjects like Physics, students don’t quite understand it until you teach it to them. In Psychology, we see students who come to class thinking that they understand, but it’s actually misconceptions and myths. So that’s what started our interest.”

Sibicky said several undergraduate students helped with data collection, and some read through earlier drafts of the article.

“The Psychology Department features a Psychology Lab, where faculty discuss their research interests and students get to learn more about research opportunities,” Sibicky said. “A lot of undergrads are afraid of research, so it’s helpful for them to hear what we’re working on and learn about ways they can be a part of that research.”

One of the most meaningful aspects of Johnson’s most recent research has to do with data analytics, which is sorting through huge amounts of data that an organization has in order to extract meaningful and useful information that will help make business decisions. Johnson examined about two dozen articles on the role and importance of data analytics, and the skillsets that accounting and finance people need to be successful in using data analytics.

“If you look down that skillset list, very little of it is knowing how to use the software,” she said. “It’s an understanding of business, of strategy; it’s communication skills; it’s all of these sorts of soft skills — critical thinking, curiosity, wearing a professional skeptical hat, not taking things at face value.

“It was a fun project because as we are starting to incorporate more data analytic topics in our accounting courses, I saw that this was a gap in my knowledge and experience. The best way to fill that gap as a faculty member is to go and do research.”

In addition to having her article published, Johnson also presented her 2017-18 sabbatical research, Ethical Decision Making: An Exploratory Study of Business Students from Four Global Regions, at the International Leadership Association’s annual global conference in Ottawa, Canada.

Johnson, who is in her 31st year of teaching, said it is her responsibility as a professor to continue to conduct research in her field.

“You have got to be able to continue to grow your own intellectual development by investigating either new things or digging deeper into some existing matter,” she said.