Grant-funded course seeks to change campus culture

Paul Elmendorf

Andrea Kelly

A new course, The Psychology of Peak Performance, is coming to JSC this spring and will focus on how to maximize student potential through healthy choices and behaviors, with the ultimate goal being to change the culture at JSC.

“The objective of the course is for students to play a role in developing a model, a prevention model for the campus,” said Andrea Kelly, the former director of counseling at JSC who is returning to the college to teach the new class. Finding ways to prevent unhealthy behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse and binge drinking among students at JSC is what the course will hopefully accomplish, according to Kelly.

“The idea would be that students would be looking at what contributes to a positive feeling on campus, and is there a model that would help the general population here at JSC feel like they’re thriving, living healthy lives?” she said.

Kelly believes if students feel they are thriving, they will be less likely to engage in substance abuse and other negative behaviors on campus.

The course will involve a mix of activities, including lectures, video presentations, visits by guest speakers, in-class discussions and outside activities. “The material they will be learning will be about concepts about how we can be our best,” said Kelly.

Students will also learn concepts in physiology that relate to the goal of their feeling that they are thriving in their lives and about becoming better athletes, which would lead to having a more fulfilling life.

The new course is funded by a grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, called an NCAA Choices Grant, and will be worth three credits. The size of the class, which is open to all students, will be relatively small and the only prerequisite is to have previously taken Introduction to Psychology. Students who have not taken Introduction to Psychology, and still want to be in the course, should talk to Kelly.

“We really want people who are passionate about it,” said Kristin Cannon, who is the coordinator of student-athlete development, assistant womens soccer coach, and the person heading up JSC’s NCAA grant.

The course will end with students developing a model to be used to try to alter the culture of JSC in a positive way. “As the course comes to an end, students will take what they have learned and they’ll actually be developing this model that hopefully will be applied to the campus,” said Kelly. “I will hope that the individual students will leave feeling like they have more tools to influence their lives in a positive way.”

The course for the moment is slated to be offered for the next three years during the spring semester of each year, but the scheduling is not set in stone. “We hope it is something we can build from,” said Cannon about the positive behavioral change ideas the class is expected to produce to improve the lives of students and the culture at JSC.