Springfield College Psychology Professors Awarded NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant



Springfield College Psychology Professors Judy Van Raalte, Al Petitpas, and Britt Brewer are the recipients of a $10,000 one-year NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant focused on student-athlete career development. 

Research has shown that student-athletes lag behind their non-athlete peers with regards to career readiness, often failing to recognize how sport-related skills can aid in career preparation. The professors will use the grant funds to refine an evidence-based career development pilot program designed specifically for college student-athletes. A controlled field trial will be conducted to test the pilot program’s effectiveness. The program is expected to help student-athletes understand how qualities acquired in sport pertain to the workplace, enhancing student-athletes’ career readiness.

“Student-athletes develop a number of skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork, time management, and self-motivation all of which are highly valued in the workplace,” said Van Raalte. “Our project will help student-athletes to identify skills they have learned through sport and understand how such assets can transfer to the world of work.”

Prior research has shown that student-athletes have limited access to campus resources like career centers due to academic and athletic obligations. To complement on-campus career-planning resources, Van Raalte and her colleagues have created the website supportforsport.org to host the content they will create for student-athletes.

“Providing Web-based psychoeducational materials that are available for program use by a range of campus professionals who work with student-athletes may offer solutions to some of the limitations of career center-focused approaches,” said Van Raalte. “This is exciting research that can directly benefit student-athletes. I am thankful that the NCAA selected our project for funding, and my colleagues and I are thrilled to get started on this project.”

Founded in 1885, Springfield College is known worldwide as the Birthplace of Basketball® and for the guiding principles of its humanics philosophy—educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others. With its foundation of academic excellence and rich athletic heritage, Springfield College prepares students with real-world leadership skills for careers that transform lives and communities. The college offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields of health sciences, human and social services, sport management and movement studies, education, business, and the arts and sciences. It also offers doctoral programs in physical education, physical therapy, and counseling psychology. The college is ranked in the 2015 edition of “Best Colleges” in the top tier of “Best Regional Universities – North Region” by U.S.News & World Report, and is designated as a premier Leadership Development Center by the YMCA of the USA. More than 5,000 traditional, nontraditional and international students study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its School of Human Services campuses across the country.