Masters Matter: Dr. Shawn Bergman and Meaghan Hansen, IOHRM

Dr. Shawn Bergman, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and professor in the Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management (IOHRM) graduate program, and first-year graduate student Meaghan Hansen discuss the Master of Arts in IOHRM at Appalachian. This interdisciplinary program is offered by two Appalachian departments: the Department of Psychology and the Department of Management, which are housed in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Walker College of Business, respectively.


  • Shawn Bergman: Hello I am Dr. Shawn Bergman, I’m the director of The Office of Research Consultation and also the Associate Director for The Center for Analytical Research and Education and an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and professor in the IOHRM Graduate Program.

    Meaghan Hansen: Hello my name is Meaghan Hansen and I am a first year IOHRM graduate student.

    SB: So we are in Smith Wright Hall, the building that houses the department of psychology. The IOHRM program is also in Peacock Hall, we have several faculty over in the department of management as well.

    So I have several strains of research going on as well, both applied and basic research. In the basic research field, we have an HR science team of about 20 graduate and undergraduate students looking at how we can use information from social media to make personnel decisions. We’ve also sprinkled in a little bit of analytics and how we can blend analytics and information from social media to make personnel decisions. So in the applied research area we got a lot of different projects ongoing. We got an applied project workforce development board where we are trying to figure out ways folks can more efficiently get jobs. We are also doing a lot of work with GearUp and Education, and College Access and that’s a project in which uh Meaghan is working.

    MH: So the GearUp project is actually a seven year grant that was awarded to Appalachian State to work with partnering counties in order to help sixth, seventh and eighth graders kind of increase their self efficacy in order to apply to college and get accepted to college. So my role in that is a data analyst and I’ve been working in education analytics and specifically I’m working to see the enrollment of students in seventh grade and how they are getting enrolled into certain math classes in eighth grade.

    SB: That’s one project we have going on with Gear Up. We’ve got a lot of projects going on with Gear Up so, if maybe math isn’t your thing, we are working doing an analysis of the data to figure out what’s the most effective and efficient path for different types of students to get into college. Because not every single type of student, there’s not one type of student in high school. In college we are going to look at the different types of students and what the pathways to college access are for each one of those different types. So that’s another project we’re doing that’s heavily analytic. We have another IOHRM graduate student leading that effort as well.

    MH: One of the things that I love about this program is that we have the opportunity to work on coursework that we learn actually in field and that relates directly back to the project with GearUp. We’re doing quantitative research and learning about that in class, then I have the opportunity to practice that skill in a more applied setting.

    Working with Dr. Bergman and all the IOHRM staff has been an amazing experience. They are not only willing to help you succeed in the classroom, but they are also there to help you succeed in applied settings as well. So they are looking to help you build ways that your resume will stand out and that has been an amazing opportunity for me.

    SB: So our philosophy in the IOHRM program is we’re obviously heavily student centered and we believe in getting our students out there and taking the lead on projects. And this is a universal philosophy across all of the IOHRM faculty. We really embrace and endorse the family experience here. We tell our students to make themselves better, make their classmates better and make this program better. And that’s really the whole impetus for what we talk about and what we do and it permeates everything that we do from out of class experiences, in class experiences, working on these applied projects, working on basic projects and internships. It is a consistent thread all the way through. And that’s really what we do, you know, we work hard play hard. And that’s kind of our mantra and our philosophy here in our program.

    MH: Initially I came to visit Appalachian State because I liked the course curriculum, the information on the website about the faculty and the idea that there was a really extreme and positive culture that was not found anywhere else. But when I got to campus and actually starting meeting some students who were already in the program and I actually had the opportunity to meet some of the faculty members, it kind of solidified that culture to me and that’s reason why I pursued Appalachian State.

    SB: That’s what I tell students that are interested in coming here. You know, the students always, for obvious reasons, want to meet the faculty, but the thing that I always strongly encourage interested students to do is talk to our current students. They know our program better than the faculty do. They’re living every single day what we do here and they are our best ambassadors for the program and we put our students in charge of stuff in our program in these applied projects. They run the program. And so its really really awesome. So if you want to know what’s it like, all that contact information is intentionally on the website. You can contact all our students, they want to be talking with people who are interested in applying and that’s really the way to get to know what we really do. Talk to the faculty. We have some of the expertise and we run the classes, but the students are the ones who make up the program and they are the embodiment of what we are trying to do in the program.

    MH: Going off of what Dr. Bergman said, I have had prospective students reach out to me and I know several of my cohort members have also talked to prospective students and we are willing to answer any questions that they may have about the program, how’s it different from undergraduate work, what the course load feels like and looks like really when you’re in it. So we’re all always willing and, like he said, all of our information is online so you can just pick any one of our emails and reach out to us really because every single one of us would be willing to answer.

    SB: Absolutely