Dr. Ling-Yi Zhou

  • “Positive psychology” focus
  • Collaborates with students
  • Voracious reader
  • Learn your whole life

    “Can you learn everything you need for your entire life in four years of college?” Dr. Ling-Yi Zhou asks the students in her psychology class. She doesn’t believe so. “The most important thing is to learn how to learn so that you can meet future challenges in the world. You have to be able to learn on your own for your whole life.”

    Zhou is a professor of psychology and has taught at the University of St. Francis since 1995. She is best known for involving her undergraduate students in research projects in cross-cultural gender studies and aging. Zhou and her students presented their research at the 72nd Midwestern Psychological Association meeting (2001), which led to a publication in a peer-reviewed research journal (2004). Zhou and her students also developed assessment instruments and conducted surveys to evaluate the new honors program at USF right after its implementation.

    Zhou holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University, Ohio. She has been honored by the University of St. Francis as a recipient of the Achievement in Scholarship Award. She has been awarded many summer mini-grants for research at USF. She is also listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

    Understanding ‘normal’

    Born in China, Zhou came to the United States in 1988. She connects and compares the two cultures through her research on gender. One finding stands out against stereotypes as a “surprise to the research world.” She explains: “Westerners think that Chinese women are very traditional, but educated Chinese women possess many of the qualities sometimes considered masculine—ambitious and placing career development ahead of family needs. Women in the United States are more likely to quit their jobs to be caretakers than women in China.”

    Zhou is using an interdisciplinary approach to pursue her newest focus to “understand normal people…I’m interested in positive psychology. Historically, the focus has been on abnormal psychology. It seems like ‘normal’ sector has been neglected. I plan to work to promote the positive in human development and to study personal growth—resilience, wisdom, flow, and happiness For example, how do people change a negative experience, a trauma, or a stressful situation into something insightful and positive? Zhou will again engage students in her research and teach her findings in the Positive Psychology course she is now designing.

    Connecting cultures

    With her parents and many friends living in China, and her son and grandson, along with many more friends living in other states of America, Zhou likes to keep this endearing social network of her alive.

    She voraciously reads books in Chinese “just for fun. Language changes with the times, so I read to understand what’s going on over there. I like to use words that are contemporary and will surprise my Chinese friends,” she laughs.

    Chinese movies are another passion of Zhou’s that keep her in touch culturally. And, there’s always the telephone. “I enjoy phone conversations with friends and former students in other states and in China, also. Sometimes I have to switch phones because the batteries run down,” she again laughs

    Modeling learning

    “A Ph.D. is not enough. You always have to learn,” Zhou said. “I teach myself through teaching and research work. I keep myself young through interaction with the younger generation,” said Zhou.

    “I try to model the willingness to learn, openness to new ideas and accepting diversity.


    “I have higher expectations and students see me as a hard teacher, but accessible and willing to help them,” said Zhou. “Students perceive me as a teacher who genuinely cares about their well-being and personal growth. I have this in my heart.

    Dr. Zhou can be reached at lzhou@stfrancis.edu .

    Dr. Ling-Yi Zhou teaches:

  • Life-Span Development (online)
  • Social Psychology (writing intensive)
  • Research Methods in the Behavioral Sciences I and II
  • Child Development
  • Adolescent Development
  • Adult Development & Aging

USF’s Psychology Department offers undergraduate study.