Dr. Will Canu has taught at Appalachian State University since 2007. He says he was attracted to the university’s strong grounding in undergraduate and liberal arts education, its vibrant Department of Psychology and the opportunity to work with graduate students in the clinical psychology master’s program.
Canu teaches undergraduate courses in foundations of psychology, abnormal psychology, behavior change, a seminar called psychosocial stressors and psychopathology, and contemporary issues in psychology. He also teaches graduate-level diagnosis and psychopathology.
“What I find to be special about Appalachian students is that they tend to be more interested in changing the world for the better than those who were at my previous university… most are thinking more deeply about what their interests are and how they can make those count for their communities. I like that a lot.”
Canu said he initially chose to study clinical psychology as an undergraduate student “because I was drawn to understanding how it was that some people suffered such distress and maladjustment in their internal lives.”
His research lab has recently focused on three areas of research: ADHD, learning differences and rural clinical psychology. Generally, he has four to six undergraduate students working with him, as well as two or three graduate students.
“I incorporate my knowledge and experience of the research process into every class in how I explain different aspects of psychological science,” Canu said about how his research informs his teaching. “Second, in certain classes I get to talk a little bit about ADHD and then I can actually talk about some of the findings I have generated (e.g., about how social dysfunction continues into adulthood). Third, I emphasize research skills into my upper-level and graduate classes, including how to read and interpret psychological science articles, how to write in American Psychological Association style, and how to develop hypotheses.”
What is his advice to prospective students considering a major in Psychology?
“Jump in! It’s a big field, bigger than you imagine, and there are many topics regarding how humans think, feel, behave, develop and adapt to life that you might find interesting. Keep an open mind and follow your interests... it’s a great field for someone interested in human service!”