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.”