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Vis­iting Instructor of Psy­chology Car­oline Kraft is teaching Cog­nitive Psy­chology and Child Psy­chology classes this fall. Car­oline Kraft | Courtesy

Vis­iting Instructor of Psy­chology Car­oline Kraft only minored in psy­chology as an under­graduate student at the Uni­versity of Kansas, but after a devel­op­mental psy­chology class piqued her interest in the field, Kraft earned a doc­torate in psy­chology and joined the Hillsdale College psy­chology department this fall.

Her senior year of college, Kraft said a devel­op­mental psy­chology class she took com­pletely opened her mind to a future in psy­chology.

She said her interest in the psy­chology class inspired her to work in her devel­op­mental psy­chology professor’s lab, where she studied topics like aggression and bul­lying, and worked on a project to develop a new anti-bul­lying program called KiVa.

KiVa is a research-based program designed to prevent bul­lying through online games and student lessons. It is now wide­spread in schools across the nation, according to its website.

“As soon as I got into the lab, I started wanting to apply to grad school for psy­chology, which is not some­thing I orig­i­nally saw myself doing, so it was kind of a major shift,” Kraft said. “My initial dream was to make it to New York City and work on some mag­azine or some­thing, but it com­pletely changed because I became so fas­ci­nated by devel­op­mental psy­chology, so I just went for it. No regrets at all.”

After changing her aca­demic focus, she attended graduate school back home at the Uni­versity of Oklahoma, where she received her doc­torate in exper­i­mental psy­chology. She then put herself on the job market, applying to Michigan schools.

“When this Hillsdale oppor­tunity came up, I went for it,” Kraft said. “Being from Oklahoma, I actually hadn’t heard of Hillsdale before this because it’s con­sidered a tiny college.”

This semester, Kraft is teaching two classes: Cog­nitive Psy­chology and Child Psy­chology. Next semester, she will teach Devel­op­mental Psy­chology and Research Design.

Senior Elyse Hutcheson, a student in Kraft’s Cog­nitive Psy­chology class, said she enjoys Kraft’s engaging teaching style.

“Dr. Kraft is such a fun, down-to-earth, and relatable person, and because she recently grad­uated from her PhD program, she really under­stands stu­dents,” Hutcheson said. “I really like that she empha­sizes dis­cussion in her classes and that she gives us the oppor­tunity to engage with the material she’s teaching.”

Kraft’s under­graduate lab work and her recent work on friend­ships, aggression, and how social status plays a role in those things helps make the material she teaches as engaging as pos­sible, according to Hutcheson.

Psy­chology department chair­woman Kari McArthur said Kraft’s prior psy­chology expe­rience made her a great can­didate for this position.

“Dr. Kraft’s edu­cation in Exper­i­mental Psy­chology will be put to great use as she teaches two sec­tions of Research Design next semester along with a course in Lifespan Devel­op­mental Psy­chology,” McArthur said. “I encourage stu­dents who have not yet met Dr. Kraft to seek her out.”

Kraft said she cannot wait to share with her stu­dents what she has learned through her expe­ri­ences in the field of psy­chology.

“My favorite part of teaching is con­necting with the stu­dents and hearing their ideas,” Kraft said. “I love it when stu­dents ask ques­tions because I find that learning is a col­lab­o­rative process; it doesn’t just stop when they’re done with the class. I want the infor­mation they learn in the class to be some­thing they can carry with them past the semester.”