Wendy L. Dunn
James Y. Canfield Professor of Psychology

B.S. Biology and Psychology, Iowa State University, 1974
M.S. Experimental Psychology, Iowa State University, 1975
Ph.D. Educational Psychology, University of Iowa, 1979
Ph.D. Management and Organizations, University of Iowa, 1993

What research or projects are you currently working on with Coe students?
I'd like to involve students in a new area of research exploring about how adolescents and young adults think differently about problems than they will in their early thirties. For a long time, psychologists thought that our ability to solve complex problems change very little after about age 12. Until a few years ago, most researchers thought brain development was largely complete by age 16 or so. However, newer research suggests that a person's ability to think about a problem shifts about age 25-30. At this time in life, it seems as if people develop a new-found ability to reason about emotional issues much more effectively. This improvement in dealing with multiple, controversial topics mirrors results that are emerging from brain imaging studies that show a rapid period of brain development and refinement that occurs in the late teens to early 20s. I think it will be fun for students to explore the limits of thinking in college-aged populations, especially about emotion-laden issues such as relationships, drug use, and so forth.

What is your favorite class to teach and why?
I like to teach all of the classes I offer, but I suppose my all-time favorite is Intro Psych in the Fall term. I really enjoy the excitement that new students bring to the class, and I like to think that I can make a difference in helping students adjust to college-level work and to college life and expectations.

What book are you currently reading?
An Inheritance of Loss

What do you do outside of class?
I like to garden in the spring and summer. I play the piano for relaxation (but never in public)!

What is the best getaway location, local or abroad?
I love downtown Chicago. It's easy to get to and has become a familiar destination over the years my husband and I have been going there. New York City is great, too.

What is your favorite thing about Coe?
The students, without a doubt. Each one brings such a different perspective.

What is your favorite Coe tradition?
I love to hear the organ music in Sinclair and, although I can barely carry a tune, to sing the College hymn. The Christmas Convocation is also something I always look forward to.

What makes Coe stand out from other schools?
Its dedicated faculty, of course! Seriously, I think Coe faculty are outstanding in their concern for students and their willingness to challenge students to do their best work here.

What advice would you give a prospective student?
Be open minded when you get to College, and never skip a class.