Psychology faculty

Laird R. O. Edman, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology

Ph.D., University of Minnesota
M.A., (Psychology), University of Notre Dame
M.A., (English), University of Notre Dame
B.A., Luther College

VPH 310


Laird Edman holds the Northwestern College Endowed Professorship. He specializes in the cognitive science of religion, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and teaching and assessing critical thinking. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology that focused on cognition and learning from the University of Minnesota, as well as master’s degrees in counseling psychology and English literature from the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Edman’s research has been published in Psychological Reports, The Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Resources in Education, Teaching and Learning in Honors, and The National Honors Report. He has also presented papers, workshops and seminars at the annual conferences of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, National Collegiate Honors Council, and American Educational Research Association.

Prior to joining Northwestern’s faculty, Dr. Edman taught at the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Waldorf, and Luther College. He holds Teacher of the Year awards from Waldorf College and the Honors Program at Iowa State University. At NWC he advises senior research students and teaches Research Methods, History and Systems of Psychology, General Psychology, Learning and Cognition, Statistics, Psychology of Religion, and Christ and Psychology.

He was on sabbatical during the 2013-14 academic year, working with Dr. Justin Barrett of Fuller Theological Seminary on a book that will present the latest research on cognitive and psychological issues related to worship and discipleship.


  • Learning and Cognition

    Learning and Cognition

    An introduction to the topics of learning, memory and cognition within the field of experimental psychology. An emphasis will be placed on approaching problems as an "experimental psychologist." Advantages and limitations of the experimental approach and applications of the knowledge base of experimental psychology will be highlighted.Prerequisites: PSY111 and 215.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
  • Introduction to Clinical Psychology

    Introduction to Clinical Psychology

    This course provides a first exposure to the theory and practice of clinical psychology. A major emphasis will be a review of the various theories of psychotherapy. The way in which these theories are applied within professional psychology constitutes a secondary, but strong, emphasis.Prerequisites: PSY111 and eight additional credits in psychology.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
  • History and Systems of Psychology

    History and Systems of Psychology

    This course is one of the senior capstones to the psychology major. It is an overview of the history and theories which have shaped contemporary psychology. Particular attention is given to the assumptions and presuppositions underlying the discipline, as well as the nature of the discipline and the ways in which thoughtful Christians can integrate their faith with psychological theory and method. Prerequisite: 12 credits of psychology courses and at least junior status. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
  • Psychology Research Lab

    Psychology Research Lab

    As a culminating experience, senior students conduct a semester-long empirical research project and produce an APA-formatted report. This is substantive project that allows the student to individually explore a self-selected research topic in depth and to experience the research process from initial idea to finished publication-ready manuscript. It challenges the student to think creatively, to integrate knowledge and skills obtained throughout the psychology curriculum, and to produce a worthwhile contribution to the field.Prerequisites: 20 credits of psychology courses including PSY215 and 216.(4 credits)
  • Christ and Psychology

    Christ and Psychology

    This course is one of the senior capstones to the psychology major. The course challenges thoughtful Christians to be critical but genuinely appreciative of the increasing role psychology is playing in modern life. A sizeable literature has developed which focuses on the relationship between orthodox evangelical Christianity and the formal discipline of psychology. The course examines some of this literature and asks: How can a scientific psychology be compatible with a person-oriented Christianity? How can Christians integrate their faith with psychological theory and methods? Prerequisite: 12 credits of psychology courses and at least junior status. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
  • General Psychology

    General Psychology

    This course is an overview of the field of psychology and includes topics such as biological bases of behavior, learning and memory, motivation and emotion, human development, personality, intelligence, abnormal behavior and therapy. The course emphasizes methodologies including observation, correlational and experimental as they are used in the study of psychology. A major purpose is to have the student struggle with the question, "What is psychology?" Finally, this course provides students with the necessary background in psychology to move on to other more advanced topics in the field.(4 credits)
  • Research Design and Introductory Statistics

    Research Design and Introductory Statistics

    This course acquaints the student with basic empirical research techniques in the behavioral sciences including political science, psychology, social work and sociology. The course aims to enable the student to function as a conductor and a consumer of behavioral science research. Techniques include: observation, questionnaire and survey, interview, single-subject designs, qualitative research, and experimental and quasi-experimental methodologies. Topics include: descriptive and basic inferential statistics, sampling methods and research ethics. Prerequisites: PSY111, SOC101, PSC101, or PSC105, and fulfillment of the general education math requirement. (4 credits)
  • Research Design and Advanced Statistics

    Research Design and Advanced Statistics

    Skills in statistical analysis and interpretation of psychological research are developed in this course with emphasis on correlation, regression and analysis of variance. Basic skills learned in Research Methods I are extended through practice in conducting, analyzing and reporting research using statistical software such as SPSS. Prerequisite: PSY215. (4 credits)

Publications and presentations

  • Primary author of the Minnesota Test of Critical Thinking
  • Chapter in Teaching Critical Thinking in Psychology: A Handbook of Best Practices, Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.
  • Chapter, “Are They Ready Yet? Epistemological Development and Critical Thinking,” in e-book Essays from E-xcellence in Teaching, published by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, 2007.
  • Student Leadership Experiences and Epistemology, Moral Development, and Sense of Vocation (with student Sarah Connolly), annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, San Francisco, 2009.
  • Epistemology and Religiosity as Predictors of Moral Reasoning (with student Emily Meyerink Griese), annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Chicago, 2008.
  • Predictors of Volunteerism Among College Students (with student Jillian Groeneveld), annual conference of the American Psychological Association, Boston, 2008.
  • The Affects of Cross-Cultural Experiences on Emotional Intelligence, Spirituality, Epistemology, Empathy, Optimism and Vocational Thought (with student Amy Vander Holt), 19th Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, D.C., 2007.
  • Epistemology, Self-Concept, and Need for Achievement as Predictors of Academic Achievement and Honors Participation (with student Candace Gross), 19th Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, D.C., 2007.

Professional experience

  • Associate Director of Honors Programs, Iowa State University
  • Teaching and Research Assistant, University of Minnesota
  • Instructor of Psychology and English, Honors Advisor, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
  • Honors Program Director, Associate Professor of Psychology and English, Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa
  • Adjunct Instructor of English, University of Notre Dame


  • American Psychological Association
  • American Scientific Affiliation
  • Association for Psychological Science
  • Christian Association for Psychological Science
  • International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education
  • National Collegiate Honors Council
  • Upper Midwest Honors Council (president, 2003–04)
  • Guthrie Theater Educational Advisory Board (1994-1999)
  • Iowa Humanities Board Speakers Bureau (1990-1999)


  • Northwesten College Endowed Chair, 2011-
  • Teaching Excellence Award, Northwestern College, 2008
  • Honors Faculty of the Year Award, Iowa State University, 2002–03
  • Professor of the Year, Waldorf College, 1995