Education for the Joy of It – Dr. Robert J. Pellegrini


By Dr. Robert J. Pellegrini

This book is targeted to all current or prospective high school students, college students, or anyone 

Image: Book Coverelse who aspires to strengthen the educational foundation upon which to build the rest of her/his life — with the hope that it is especially helpful to people who might otherwise become, or have already been formal educational program dropouts or lockouts. I cannot guarantee that applying what is offered here will ensure an “A” grade, or achievement of one’s life goals.  But I do guarantee that I have tried to summarize critical elements of thought, feeling, and action oriented to such objectives.

Part I of this book is all about how to work both hard and “smart” to experience the joy of academic success.  Hard work is necessary to achieve anything worthy of pride in our own creative effort.  But it’s not just how much or how hard we work at things.  It is also “how smart” we work that determines our life outcomes.  And what I mean by “working smart” is working efficiently and effectively.  The goal here is to help all students reap as much as possible from their educational investment, whatever that investment may be in terms of time, money, energy, and self-disciplined personal sacrifices.

Part II is about what it takes to achieve great success at anything in life.  The format for this second part is, essentially, a psychological profile of outstanding achievers.

From both my professional and personal experience, I’ve learned how vitally important education can be as an avenue to a pro-socially valued and personally satisfying life.  And once again in 2014, I find myself championing an approach designed to facilitate human development through educational opportunity in a program I call “Life Construction 101” — designed not just to augment efforts to help at-risk students, but to help every student enjoy academic success experiences.

Education For The Joy Of It is the “user’s manual” for that Life Construction 101 program.  Accordingly, the Appendix to this book presents a brief, structured exercise designed to provide a very preliminary template for initiating the construction or reconstruction of one’s life.

And that’s it.  A little book that I hope will be one of the biggest books its readers ever read.

About the Author

A Past-President of The Western Psychological Association (WPA), San Jose State University Professor Emeritus of Psychology Bob Pellegrini received his B.A. degree from Clark University Phi Beta Kappa and with High Honors in Psychology.  Supported by National Institute for Mental Health fellowships, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Denver, with clinical and research pre-doctoral internships at The University of Colorado School of Medicine, Children’s Asthmatic Research Institute and National Jewish Hospitals in Denver, and National Science Foundation-sponsored post-doctoral study at Stanford University.

At SJSU he taught and mentored thousands of students, many of whom in underserved minority population educational programs including a B. A. degree program he co-founded at the California Department of Corrections’ Soledad prison.  To help students maximize their learning gains per unit of time invested, he created several study guides produced by major academic publishers.  His commitment to giving SJSU students “the best introductory psychology course available anywhere at any price” has been acknowledged in teaching awards as SJSU and Western Psychological Association outstanding professor of the year, and invited contributions to prestigious educational events such as the Lewis M. Terman Master Lecture Series.

Bob’s award-winning work as a social scientist/educator has focused on illuminating and promoting actualization of human potential.  This book is the owner’s manual for his Life Construction101 project, designed to provide students, especially those most at risk for educational failure, with skills and perspectives to help them experience success in high school, college and throughout life.

At age 69 and 70, Dr. Pellegrini again qualified for the USA Bodybuilding Championships by placing 2nd and 1st, respectively, in his master’s division finals of the nationally-sanctioned 2010 San Francisco and 2011 San Jose contests.

Donations Making a Difference

Through generous gifts, endowments and grants, the Department of Psychology is proud to award 10 Scholarships (read below) to our students each year. These awards recognize our students’ academic excellence, research creativity, service, and educational resilience.

We are dedicated to growing these financial awards in both size and number.  Your support toward that goal is greatly appreciated by our faculty, staff, and, especially, our remarkable students. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about our giving opportunities or if you would like to discuss establishing a new scholarship fund.


Dr. Ron Rogers 
Chair of Psychology

How can you contribute to our students’ success?

  • Navigate to the “Give to SJSU” page
  • Enter your donation amount
  • Skip the “areas of giving” section
  • Type one of the fund names below in “Other Purpose”
  • Complete the remainder of the form
  • Click the “Make a Gift” button!


Current Gift Opportunities

Research and Scholarship

  • James and Becky McGaugh Research Award. An annual award to a student whose research involves advancing society’s understanding of learning, memory, and/or biopsychology.
  • Robert and Marlee Hicks Scholarship. An annual award to a student whose research involves advancing society’s understanding of motivation.
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Research in Psychology. Annual scholarship award to one or more Psychology Students in recognition of his/her exceptional research.
  • Outstanding Graduate Research in Psychology. Annual scholarship award to one or more graduate Psychology Students in recognition of his/her exceptional graduate student thesis/research. 

 Academic Excellence and Career Advancement

  • Frank D. Payne Memorial Scholarship. Two $500 annual scholarships to academically exceptional students with plans to pursue careers in psychological research.
  • Ronald G. Rabedeau Memorial Scholarship. This annual $1,000 award is to encourage and support students studying in the areas of NeurosciencePsychobiologyExperimental PsychologyStatisticsLearningMotivation, or combinations thereof.
  • Charles W. Telford Memorial Scholarship. In memory of the first Chairman of our Department. An annual $250 scholarship to academically exceptional students in Psychology.

 Educational Resilience

  • John and Vivian MaCrae Scholarship for Exceptional Educational Resilience. An annual scholarship recognizing educational success in spite of great personal challenges.
  • Exceptional Educational Resilience in Psychology.  Annual scholarship award for one or more Psychology Students who have demonstrated exceptional educational resilience.  

Service to Department, University, and/or Community

  • Exceptional Service in Psychology. An annual scholarship award to one or more Psychology Students who have demonstrated exceptional service to the University or the community.  

Other Opportunities

  • Psychology Discretionary Fund. This general giving fund provides us the financial resources required to respond to needs in a time of diminishing State support.

Career Center Fall Events and Resources

By Denise Hamilton (,
Liberal Arts Employment Specialist, Career Center

The following is a snap-shot of events and services that the Career Center has to offer this upcoming fall semester.


Don’t miss, the Nonprofit & Public Service Job, Internship, and Volunteer Forum October 8th from 12:30pm-4:30pm in the Student Union Ball Room!  We are hosting this educational and recruitment event for the first time with NOVA.  The forum will kick-off with a panel from 12:30pm-1:30pm.  The panel will consist of representatives from nonprofit, city, state, and federal government.  Then at 2pm students, alumni, and community members can meet with 40+ organizations and agencies from around the bay area.  This event is appropriate for any class level!  Several faculty have added this event to their syllabus as an assignment or just for extra credit.  Please feel free to do the same if it fits within the goals of your course.

  • Business, Government, & Nonprofit Job & Internship Fair:  Another event not to be missed, especially for those students seeking a job or internship.  This event will take place in the Student Union Ball Room on September 18th from 12pm-4pm.  We are expecting 85 employers representing these various sectors.  Another great event to add to your syllabus!
  •  Social Media Panel:  Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram have taken over the way we communicate with each other and the world.  Because of this, companies and organizations are hiring for positions to manage their online or social media presence.  This panel will explore this emerging career field!  Join us on, Wednesday November 4th in Student Union Ballroom C from 2pm-4pm to learn more.


  •  Faculty Toolkit:  Everything you need to integrate SJSU Career services into your classroom is right here!
  •  Graduate/Professional School Resources:  We just revamped our grad school page with helpful videos and resources.
  •  Big Interview:  This is the go to tool to help students prep for interviews.
  •  GoinGlobal:  This new tool, accessed through SpartaJobs, is key to any abroad job or internship search.
  •  SpartaTrack:  Just like an academic plan, students need a career development plan to follow and guide them.  This link will take you to just that!  Note that students will fall in different sections regardless of class year.


  • One-on-one:  I LOVE meeting with students!  Students can make an appointment with me via SpartaJobs.  My appointments this fall will take place on Mondays from 1:30pm-3:30pm at the Career Center.  I can be flexible and schedule outside this time frame if necessary.  The center also offers drop-in advising hours for quick resume review and/or questions.

  • Career Advice Drop-In:  NEW this semester, I will be hosting a drop-in career advice session at the ACCESS Center in Clark 240 on Wednesday’s from 1:30pm-3:30pm, starting September 3rd.  Students can come by with any career related question or concern to discuss!


Cyber Safety

Cyber Safety: Exploring the Human Element in Online Security

College of Social Sciences Newsletter, Spring 2014

Photo: Drs. David Schuster and Jeremiah Still

Drs. David Schuster and Jeremiah Still


David Schuster and Jeremiah Still, assistant professors in the Psychology Department of the College of Social Sciences, are using their expertise in human factors—the study of how our capabilities (and limitations) affect our ability to interact with technology—to find new ways of addressing the problem.The data loss and resulting avalanche of bad publicity were a stark reminder that no one—not even one of the nation’s largest department store chains—can count on fool-proof computer security. Everyone, from major corporations to the National Security Agency, is vulnerable.

They are part of a “cluster hire” of new faculty in library and information science, computer engineering, computer science and management information systems who have been brought aboard to create a cyber security research group at San José State University.

“It’s inherently an interdisciplinary problem,” Schuster says. “It’s going to require new solutions that we don’t just have in one of our fields.”

The pair brings to the project extensive experience in product design, human-computer interaction and robotics, as well as the determination to find fresh solutions to old problems. It’s a tall order, Still acknowledges. “The Internet is out of control,” he says. “We’ve never really been in control of it. If we think we’re in control, it’s an illusion.”

Schuster, a Green Bay, Wisc., native who studied psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Tampa, received his Ph.D. in human factors studies last summer from the University of Central Florida.

His graduate research was part of an ambitious U.S. Army project to build robots capable of assisting soldiers in tactical situations. “What the Army wants is to move from a paradigm of robots being driven around to a mode of interaction where a soldier will give a robot a high-level task, like, ‘Monitor this floor of the building,’” Schuster says.

At the moment, that goal is more akin to a pipe dream, he acknowledges. His own focus was on situation awareness in the humans-robot interaction —providing a soldier with goal-relevant knowledge to perform a particular task. That entailed asking information might be most relevant to a soldier at any particular point.

“It sounds intuitive,” Schuster says. “It sounds like we need to increase people’s understanding of what they need to know.” What isn’t particularly clear is how to measure or ensure that, he says.

Since arriving at San José State, Schuster has gotten up to speed on cyber security. The Target data debacle “underscores the fact that cyber security is far from a solved problem and really needs to be worked on,” he says. “It really shows the complexity of it as a problem.”

The heart of that complexity lies in the fact that information “is flowing in all different directions at one time,” he says. “You have to look at interactions between individuals and technology systems, and also interactions among individuals.”

Jeremiah Still has also been on a steep learning curve around cyber security since joining the faculty. One thing he’s learned is that computer users should create their strongest password for their email account, because if your email is attacked, hackers can reset the passwords to all of your other online accounts. “Passwords just aren’t working,” he says.

Still, who grew up in a small town on southern Missouri’s Ozark plateau, has been exploring the human-computer interface since he was a teenager, when his parents bought an HP desktop. By the time he was in high school, he was charging $150 an hour to help local businesses setup and maintain networks.

“Somebody would call me up and I knew how to fix the problem,” Still said. “I liked learning it, but once I figure it all out, it was boring.”

He earned a B.S. in psychology from Missouri Southern State University and moved on to Iowa State University for his Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction. Then, Still started a new human factors program at Missouri Western State University, where he designed the curriculum and taught all the classes.

Several factors contributed to Still’s decision to relocate to San José. “I had the opportunity to have collaborators,” he said. “I wanted to be somewhere where I was more immersed in technology. This is one of the hotbeds.”

Human factors research can be applied to virtually every form of technology, Still says. “I find stuff in the cognitive science literature that’s been around for 20 or 30 years,” he says. “How do we apply that to the design context?” For example, research that predicts where people’s eyes will land first when they visit a web page could be of great benefit in pricing online advertising.

Still, whose wife Mary is an SJSU lecturer in cognitive psychology and a collaborator in the cyber security effort, has been working with his students to create more intuitive Cyber Security interfaces. “We’re taking this basic technology that’s been around for a few years and understanding what the human needs are,” Still says.

Still and Schuster meanwhile are working with an industry partner to study how people approach computer security ratings. The question, Schuster says, is “How people make use of ratings related to security when they’re provided by other humans, or by some kind of automated method.”

That entails, among other things, an assessment of the accuracy of crowd-sourced ratings, he said. “Fundamentally, people and computers are good at different things,” Schuster says.

“People have different strengths than computers do. One of the strengths of people is that they are resilient, in the sense that they can deal with unique situations—things that are off the map, the unknown unknowns.”

Veterans Embracing Transition

By Lauren Rohde, Community Relations, Lockheed Martin
Excerpt from the Lockheed Martin newletter

The end of the school year, the beginning of pool season and Mother’s Day. The month of May has a lot of connotations. It is also Military Appreciation month, which should be of special interest for Lockheed Martin employees since we all know, “We Never Forget Who We’re Working For.” But do we remember that solider once he or she returns home? What do we do to support our veteran population and help them successfully transition back into civilian life? These and similar topics were discussed in a Psychology 190 class at San Jose State University (SJSU) as part of their Veterans Embracing Transition (VET) Connect program supported by Lockheed Martin.

Representatives from Lockheed Martin were invited to attend the capstone class where students did

Image: Group photograph of award winners

Five of the seven veteran peer leaders proudly display their Lockheed Martin scholarships. The G.I. bill does not cover summer or winter breaks from school if students are not enrolled in class, so these scholarships help bridge the gap in financial aid.

research projects on post-traumatic stress disorder, veterans’ transitions and other issues surrounding military life. Part of the event was a recognition ceremony for their seven veteran peer leaders who helped the students learn about these issues. The peer leaders received Lockheed   Martin-sponsored scholarships to help cover costs over summer break while they are not enrolled in school.

“I’m grateful Lockheed Martin is recognizing what we’re doing here,” said Frank Martinez (pictured second from left), a veteran peer leader, Iraq veteran and member of the California Army National Guard. “I have an internship, but I’m not working. I can’t thank Lockheed Martin and their employees enough for their generosity.” During the capstone presentation, Frank shared a poignant video that he made while deployed to Iraq to show his family what it was like to be there.

Carli White, a 26-year-old SJSU student graduating next week with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, read a free verse poem she wrote. The poem is a reflection of her thoughts after spending a semester in a class on veterans’ issues and learning about the struggles that veterans face when they leave the service.

Mark Pinto (pictured middle), a peer leader and Gulf War Marine Corps veteran who is about to graduate with a master’s degree in photography, is a two-time recipient of the Lockheed Martin scholarship. “Going to school is hard, and I don’t know a vet who’s gone to school without financial struggles,” said Mark. “The relief [from these scholarships] really helps us move forward. You’re reaching out to all the vets, and it lets us know there are organizations out there that care.”

“Be informed on issues that affect vets,” said John Paul Arde (pictured second from right), an eight-year Marine Corps veteran and peer leader. “If you know vets, ask them how they’re doing and show them you care. Relate to them. Don’t quit on someone if they are having problems. I wouldn’t have anyone left if they all quit.”

The messages shared at the capstone event aligned with the core idea to raise awareness and help veterans in the ways they need support. In addition to teaming with local universities to aid veterans transitioning from the military to academics, Lockheed Martin is a strong supporter of military and veteran hiring programs and multiple nonprofits that provide a variety of services for veterans to help address their different needs.


Attention graduating seniors!

Last Job & Internship Fair of the semester…


60 employers are registered in the Spring ’14 Business, Government & Nonprofit Job & Internship Fair. Over 10% of the employers attending have internship opportunities available. In addition, the largest majors employers are seeking to recruit from this event are:

  • Liberal Arts – 68%–College of Social Science and Humanities &Arts
  • CASA – 70%
  • Business – 65%

What do you need to attend?

SPARC 2014 – Call for Submissions

Gain professional experience in a cooperative environment!

Since 1957, the Spartan Psychological Association Research Conference (SPARC) has been providing students of psychology the opportunity to present their original research in a conference setting.  Undergraduate and graduate students interested in presenting their psychological research at SPARC should submit an abstract for consideration by March 21, 2014.

Please join us this year – as presenter or attendee – for another outstanding program comprised of oral presentations, a poster session, and a keynote address from a distinguished scholar in psychology.

Submission Information:

Deadline: Friday, March 21, 2014
Submission Process:  Online Form

Keynote Speaker:

Dr. James McGaugh
Professor, University of California, Irvine
SJSU Psychology Alumnus
Web site

Event Information:

May 8, 2014
San Jose State University
Student Union Ballroom
Web site


Student-athletes work on sport transition study

Image:  Football game

by Spartan Daily, Feb 16, 2014

A group of San Jose State University athletes are  working on a study that focuses on the transition from high school to college football and the stresses that come with being a student athlete.

The study was launched in Fall 2012 with the help of Joanna Fanos, a psychology professor.

The program was created by Vince Buhagiar, a senior psychology major, graduate David Fales and David Catalano, a sophomore business management major.

Buhagiar, Fales and Catalano all played for the Spartan football team.

“The main basis of it is to help incoming freshmen with the transition between high school and college,” Buhagiar said. “We believe that is a struggle for anyone, but especially for athletes, because on top of the school and the social and the being away from home they have to juggle another part of their life which is athletics.”

Fanos said the study was influenced by a study at the University of North Texas titled “Helping Freshman Student Athletes Adjust to College Life Using Psychoeducational Groups,” written by Henry L. Harris, Michael K. Altekruse and Dennis W. Engels.

The UNT study split students into groups from basketball, cross-country, football, golf, swimming and diving, tennis, volleyball and track and field.

Groups discussed issues having to do with student athletics and the results showed that the sessions helped students adjust to the college environment, according to the study. 

The SJSU transition study focuses on male football players, Fanos said.

The transition group meets once a week, breaks into different groups and discusses different issues. In the Fall there will be a questionnaire given out which will assess the group members’ progress, she said.

“We hope that this season will be much more organized,” Buhagiar said.

Buhagiar said it took two years for the group to create a good framework for the study.

“It would be awesome if we could publish our study,”  Buhagiar said. “And other teams — whether it’s the coach and academic personnel from other colleges — reads it and decides that it’s a good idea and they initiate a similar project.”

The study focuses on adjusting to being away from home, not being the hero of the football team as high school students often are, dating, homesickness and other issues, Fanos said.

“These football players spend a tremendous amount of time training,” Fanos said.

She said student athletes often have to squeeze coursework in between sports training, classes, traveling for games and their social lives.

Many students have time to do their homework over the weekend, but the football players are doing it on the bus, Fanos said.

“These folks are great,” Fanos said. “I’m just very impressed with them.” 

New football players often red shirt, or sit on the bench during their first season, Fanos said.

She and Buhagiar both said red shirting causes athletes to feel left out, which can add to the stress of the high school to college transition.

“They feel like pieces of meat,” Fanos said. 

Twins Rebecca and Breanna Garcia, both junior psychology majors, are on the cross country and track teams and are helping with the study.

Breanna and Rebecca said they started working on the study this semester.

“I think it was really clear to us being division one athletes that a support group is vital to that transition,” Breanna said.

The group has started a literature review this semester, and will start collecting data from the football team in the 2014 football season, she said.

“You really have to stand back and realize that it’s not going to fall apart if you don’t meet a certain goal,” Rebecca said. “That you’re not going to crumple.”

The study is in the early stages of progress, Fanos said.

“I’m out there working with these guys every day and I’ve learned stuff about them that would make me gain a lot of respect,”  Buhagiar said. “Things that you wouldn’t talk about every day and it’s just surprising that they’re able to live with that and hold everything together so well.”


Inspired by His Sister, Spartan Designs App



Designed by SJSU students, the Bloom app minimizes risk by providing daily goals that adapt to the changing needs of an expectant mother over the course of her pregnancy (image courtesy of Jarad Bell and Cherie Yamaguchi).

It all began with a Spartan’s sister, who needed a good way to track data that would help keep her and her baby healthy through a difficult pregnancy.

That simple observation, by graduate student Jarad Bell, ’15 Human Factors, inspired plans for a new app recently accepted to the second round of a prestigious international design competition.

“The competition received 65 submissions from around the world and their manuscript was selected as one of the top 12,” wrote Assistant Professor Jeremiah Still of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Graduate Program.

Competing Internationally

The SJSU team will travel in April to Toronto, Canada, to present their work at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the premier international conference on human-computer interaction.

“It is clear by the academic participation and industry sponsors, including Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg and Autodesk, that this is the place to shine,” Still said.

Five students collaborated on “Bloom: Fostering Healthy and Peaceful Pregnancies with Personal Analytics”: Bell, graduate students Cherie Yamaguchi, ’14 Human Factors, Max Wenger, ’14 Human Factors, and Peter McEvoy, ’15 Human Factors, and undergraduate Auriana Shokrpour, ’14 Psychology.

This year’s challenge was “to design an object, interface, system or service intended to help us to develop and share self-awareness, understanding or appreciation for our body data,” according to organizers.

Developing the App

The SJSU team set out to develop an app that would foster healthy and peaceful pregnancies by motivating expectant mothers to sustain beneficial habits and behaviors.

Within the Psychology of Design Lab, the team worked hard to develop and complete an iterative research and design process that explored how persuasive design characteristics could be employed to encourage self-monitoring and motivationally sustain healthy behavior in expectant mothers.

Bloom minimizes risk by providing daily goals that adapt to the changing needs of an expectant mother over the course of her pregnancy.

In addition, the app maximizes peace of mind by offering tools that augment self-awareness and facilitate enriched communication between the medical community and expectant mothers.

Sister’s Feedback

“I have shared the project with my sister,” Bell said. “She felt that the app is the perfect way for pregnant women to take control of their health and be proactive about any complications or issues that may arise.”