Teaching of Psychology

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 1532-8023
Print ISSN: 0098-6283
There is growing controversy over the ethics of using animals in biomedical and behavioral research. This article reviews two prominent philosophical justifications for animal liberation and describes an exercise that facilitates class discussion of animal research issues. Students simulate participation on an institutional animal care committee and decide whether a series of hypothetical experiments will be allowed. Students reported that the exercise sharpened their awareness of this issue and of the complexity of making ethical decisions.
Can short, ungraded, free-writing assignments promote learning of course material? We randomly assigned introductory psychology recitation sections (N = 978 students) to writing or thinking conditions. For all sections, teaching assistants presented students with a discussion topic based in current coursework. Students either wrote or thought about the topic for 5 min. All sections then discussed the topic for approximately 10 min. Exams included questions related to the discussion topics. Students in the writing condition attended class more often and performed better on factual and conceptual multiple-choice exam questions than students in the thinking condition, even after controlling for measures of student quality. The results suggested that brief free writing improved factual and conceptual learning.
In three experiments, we studied the effect of incentives (0%, 1%, or 5% of grade points; $2 or $10) on willingness to participate in hypothetical experiments varying in degree of aversiveness. College students read a brief description of an experiment, rated their willingness to participate, and wrote comments. Willingness to participate was greater with larger incentives (in two of three experiments) and was lower for more aversive treatments (in all experiments). We discuss the teacher's role in the research process.
Many undergraduate research projects with human subjects are not reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Undergraduate research should be reviewed to protect subjects' welfare, ethically and legally protect instructors, enhance the reputation a psychological research, and enrich the educational experience of student researchers. A survey of undergraduate researchers (N = 53), all of whom underwent the IRE process for their research, indicated that they thought they had teamed more by going through the IRE process, produced a better product, viewed instructor feedback more positively, saw the instructor as more of an ally, seared their research more seriously, and were sensitized to ethical issues. We recommend the IRE process for all undergraduate research.
Assigned textbook readings are a common requirement in undergraduate courses, but students often do not complete reading assignments or do not do so until immediately before an exam. This may have detrimental effects on learning and course performance. Regularly scheduled quizzes on reading material may increase completion of reading assignments and therefore course performance. This study examined the effectiveness of compulsory, mastery-based, weekly reading quizzes as a means of improving exam and course performance. Completion of reading quizzes was related to both better exam and course performance. The discussion includes recommendations for the use of quizzes in undergraduate courses.
This article describes an approach to enhancing the value of case study material in teaching professional ethics in psychology. The mock committee approach involves a series of hearings convened by students who rotate membership on a class ethics committee. Members of the class participate randomly as psychologists accused of various ethical violations. While the class observes, formal complaint hearings occur that result in official rulings and the setting of appropriate penalties and remedial requirements. The larger class then joins in active feedback and exchange with the committee to highlight and discuss salient ethical issues. We present and discuss student evaluation data for this technique and comment on the potential advantages of this teaching approach.
The author maintains that students who are likely to be research participants should know more about their rights.
Failing to conduct a research study because it involves deception or invasion of privacy is as much an act to be evaluated on ethical grounds as is conducting such a study. A classroom exercise was designed to teach that there are several vantage points from which the ethical evaluation of a study can be made. Role-play and discussion are used to sharpen critical thinking and develop an appreciation of the subtleties of research ethics.
I collected information on the effects of ethical concerns on research questions asked and methods used by psychological researchers. Faculty researchers described the advantages and disadvantages of ethical concerns on their specialized areas and provided case examples of the effects of institutional review board actions on their research questions and methods. I offer several suggestions for using this information to increase students' ethical awareness and understanding in research methods courses.
Rosnow's (1990) role-play exercise for teaching research ethics was used in undergraduate research methods courses, and its effectiveness was evaluated. Results indicate that the exercise can be a valuable tool for sensitizing students to the factors involved in judging the ethics of research.
Attempts to correct several discrepancies on the founding of psychology laboratories in the US before 1900. A chronology is presented, beginning with Harvard in 1874 and ending with the University of Texas in 1898. (9 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Analyzed book content by having 3 publishing sales representatives choose 14 leading textbooks and 3 judges rate space allocated to 10 psychology content areas, currency, and documentation. Results led to the recommendation that the American Psychological Association create an updated, computerized data bank of content analysis ratings and rankings, by a standing committee of randomly selected judges, of all present and future textbooks in introductory psychology. (11 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Revised, using reviews, listings, and advertisements, previous bibliographies of introductory psychology texts printed between 1977 and 1983. 109 texts are listed alphabetically; references to 91 reviews are also listed. Entries written for or widely used for high school classes are designated. Supplemental textbook materials are coded. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Examination of 9 abnormal psychology textbooks indicated that most texts discussed the concept of the schizophrenogenic parent and noted methodological limitations of related research. The texts also implied that the concept remains viable, despite a lack of confirming evidence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
18 graduate students in a course in abnormal behavior were asked to rate 20 of 59 well-known or so-called classic articles for readability and human interest and to write a 1-page summary and evaluation of each. 20 articles (listed in this paper) were selected by more than half the class. It is concluded that student ratings should be used more often as a means of selecting supplementary readings for graduate students. (6 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Presents data that reflect the extent to which graduate students in psychology perceive themselves as prepared for different activities that they would have to undertake as faculty. Ss included 89 psychology graduate students enrolled in a wide range of doctoral programs. Results indicate a large and statistically significant gap between the level of rated importance and the level of training received in the following areas relevant to an academic career: psychology content, research training, class management, academic life, and ethical issues. The authors provide specific training recommendations for psychology departments that wish to prepare their graduate students for careers in academia. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Suggests that students in experimental psychology courses need to be taught the importance of precision in recording, analyzing, and interpreting data. To communicate this point, students should be assigned an A or F on the results section of laboratory reports, based on the accuracy of their data and analysis. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Knowledge about admission criteria is necessary for students to make informed decisions about whether to apply for graduate programs, but there is little information about the accuracy of students' perceptions. In this study, the author assessed 140 psychology undergraduates' beliefs about admission criteria, the time necessary to complete graduate degrees, and starting salaries at all educational levels. Students' perceptions of the importance of various admission criteria were relatively accurate, although they tended to underestimate the importance of letters of recommendation and overestimate minimum cutoff grade point averages. They also overestimated starting salaries at all educational levels. The author provide suggestions for interventions to correct students' misperceptions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Surveyed the number of papers and poster presentations dealing with the personalized system of instruction (PSI) at the annual meetings of the Association for Behavior Analysis, its precursor, and the American Psychological Association to determine whether research interest in this approach has waned. Results show an increase (1972–1975), a peak (1976–1979), and a decline (1980–1983). (6 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Students must be self-reflective, open to other perspectives, and willing to face their biases for critical thinking to take place. Often students profess to having no biases or are reluctant to admit having any; therefore, instructors need a method for increasing students' awareness of their assumptions and biases. Instructors can have the confrontation of presumptions and personal biases be a secondary focus (i,e., secondary agenda) of a class activity rather than the sole purpose of the activity. The technique involves presenting students with class discussion stimuli containing ambiguous information concerning background data on gender or sexual orientation, and then monitoring the assumptions students make with regard to background variables during class discussion. Several examples are provided for implementing the secondary agenda technique into psychology courses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Conducted 2 studies to investigate the nature and extent of distortion of Adlerian (individual) psychology in 57 introductory textbooks. In 23 texts there was little or no mention of Adler. Results from analyses of the remaining 34 texts suggest that Adler's psychology is either neglected or seriously distorted by most introductory texts. 21 leading Adlerian teachers and practitioners rated the 34 selections on completeness, accuracy, and satisfaction. Results show that Ss considered the treatment of individual psychology neither accurate nor reasonably complete. (2 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
404 general psychology students were assigned to 1 of 3 different item orders (sequential, chapter contiguity, and random) of the same final exam consisting of 75 multiple-choice questions. In the sequential order exam, items appeared in the same sequence in which their supporting material was presented in the textbook and lectures. For the chapter contiguity order exam, items based on the same chapter appeared together, but were not sequentially arranged within or between chapters. The order of the 3rd exam was random. Scores for the sequential order exam were higher than for the other two. There were no significant differences in the completion times for any of the exams. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Measured 134 university students' familiarity with 13 common learning aids, along with their propensity to use these aids and their perceptions of which aids are most valuable. Results indicate that textbook pedagogical aids varied considerably in their familiarity to Ss, probability of use, and perceived value. The most highly rated learning aids were bold-faced technical terms, chapter summaries, and running or chapter glossaries. Lower ratings for many other learning aids raise questions about whether these are meeting students' needs or perhaps adding unnecessarily to the bulk and cost of textbooks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Extends research by W. Weiten et al (1996) on the value of the pedagogical aids (e.g., summaries, glossaries, and the use of boldface terms) in introductory psychology textbooks. 411 1st-semester and advanced psychology students rated each of 15 aids on familiarity, likelihood of use, and value. Also examined were all full-length introductory psychology texts published between 1995 and 1997 to determine the prevalence of these aids. Although the 2 student groups generally agreed on the most and least used aids, ratings did not consistently coincide with prevalence. How ratings may reflect students' concern with test preparation is discussed. A bibliography of the full-length introductory texts used in the study is appended. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Examined the importance members attribute to incorporating diversity, their attempts to infuse diversity issues in their classrooms, strategies they have found to be successful, and resources they recommend. 703 members of American Psychological Association's Division 2 indicated that Ss generally acknowledged the importance of incorporating diversity topics in their classes. Ss who rated incorporating diversity topics as more important reported that they allowed more time in their classes to discuss diversity, were more likely to have taught a course on a diversity issue, employed a more interactive teaching style, and were at institutions that included a diversity course as part of the general education requirements. Ss identified barriers to teaching diversity, potential facilitating factors,'and successful strategies and resources for incorporating diversity issues. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Service-learning programs apply classroom principles to real-world situations and help communities by providing an often untapped resource of volunteers. This article describes how we applied the service- learning teaching approach to an undergraduate psychology animal behavior class in conjunction with a local humane society. Undergraduate psychology students learned operant conditioning techniques and applied this knowledge to 52 dogs housed at a local humane society. Students viewed the course as a positive experience and believed it offered them the opportunity to practice classroom knowledge, in an applied setting. The article describes the course and the effects of this service-learning program on the community. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Range and Estimated Median Values for Six Studies on Answer Changing Outcome in Multiple-Choice Tests
Range and Estimated Medians of
Reviewed results from 33 studies published since 1928 concerning answer-changing behavior on objective tests. The analysis showed that, generally, only a small percentage of test items were changed by Ss, most of the changes were from wrong to right answers, most test takers are answer changers, and most answer changers are point gainers. (40 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Presents the results of a national survey designed to determine the characteristics and correlates of teaching anxiety among 102 college psychology teachers. The survey focused on respondents' experience with teaching anxiety, the frequency and intensity of the experience, and the demographic correlates of such anxiety. The vast majority of respondents reported having experienced some type of teaching anxiety, and a sizable number reported it to be a continuing problem for them. Several stimuli that trigger teaching anxiety were identified. These included standing in front of a class before speaking, preparing for class, and hostile comments from students. Academic rank and teaching experience emerged as correlates of the experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
83 educational psychology students read assigned articles after instructors told them either there would be a quiz or that the articles would be beneficial professionally or to class discussions. Quizzes given after the reading assignments indicated that prior knowledge of the quiz resulted in greater knowledge of the article content, with a gain of almost 20 percentage points, than when the quiz was unanticipated. On a self-report survey, students indicated that they read an article more thoroughly if they expected a quiz than if the article was considered important professionally or to be used in discussion. These findings suggest that, despite professors' hopes for students' intrinsic motivation, students' learning may depend ultimately on whether it will affect their grade. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Notes that in recent years, many faculty have modified their teaching methods to encourage higher level thinking. However, approaches to testing often remain unchanged, reinforcing memorizing rather than critical thinking. In this article, the use of daily essay quizzes to encourage thorough preparation for class and higher level thinking is described. To assess student reactions and behavior to the daily quizzes, anonymous student responses on questionnaires at the end of the semester were compared. The students were in 2 different psychology courses: 25 students in an Abnormal Psychology class with 4 scheduled tests over the course of the semester, and 30 students in a Women and Psychology course who had daily quizzes. Student evaluations support the perceived value of this testing method in enhancing student learning. Additionally, student self-reported behaviors suggest that in contrast to daily essay quizzes, 4 tests scheduled at predictable intervals during the semester result in last-minute preparation and lower perceived student learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Describes a 2-wk exercise in a small group format for an introductory psychology course, which focuses on personality and psychological assessment in conjunction with lecture material. Students write items for a 16-item personality test, the test is administered to students outside the class, and the results are analyzed. Among the benefits of such a program are that it teaches students about the complexity of psychological constructs, it gives them some experience in thinking about the meaning of questionnaire results, and it shows them some of the problems inherent in psychological assessment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Investigated a 16-yr trend in compliance with required reading assignments, and explored some recommendations for remediation. 910 students from undergraduate and graduate psychology courses from 1981–1997 took surprise quizzes to determine compliance with reading assignments. Compliance was operationally defined as a passing score on the 1st surprise quiz of the quarter. Results indicate a decline of compliance over the period. However, compliance improved as a function of increasing class level. The authors recommend regular sampling of reading compliance by surprise quizzes and a renewed emphasis on compliance with required reading assignments. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
New graduate student teaching assistants (GTAs) tend to commit the same mistakes in their classroom presentations. In this article, the author describes these mistakes and offer suggestions for how GTAs (and faculty) may correct them. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Argues that P. E. Panek (see record 1986-15693-001), who found negative undergraduate attitudes toward the elderly, employed a research method that failed to yield representative results. Alternative methods are identified, and the pedagogical effects of Panek's finding and the substitutes proposed for it are examined. The complexity of social attitudes and methodological effects on attitude measurement are noted. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Studied the ideas about mental illness held by 84 college students at the start of an Abnormal Psychology course. Ss completed a 12-item questionnaire. A statistical analysis coordinating responses with S's background was done. Results are reported concerning etiology, personal relationships, and sources of therapy. Relationships between assumed source of mental illness and therapeutic approach are discussed. The anxiety-arousing impact of an Abnormal Psychology course is also noted. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
12 introductory psychology textbook authors and 7 psychology editors representing the publishers of these texts were surveyed on their perceptions of the introductory psychology text market. Three major findings emerged from their responses. First, the market seems roughly divided into 3 segments: upper, middle, and lower level texts. Second, like professors, authors and editors are not familiar with most of the texts in this market. Third, the growth of used book companies and the escalation of supplementary packages have greatly diminished the profit margin for introductory texts, leading to higher prices and a decreasing number of competing texts. The nature of this decrease is analyzed by examining directories of introductory psychology texts in print during the last 12 yrs. The role of the professor in these market problems is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Describes an adaptation of the principles and technology of the therapeutic community in a university course format. The classroom is viewed as a microcosm of an anomic and lonely civilization, and approaches to overcome this situation are structured into the course design. Components described include goal setting and contract negotiation, a group matrix structure, nameplates, grade determination, workpoints, ombudsman, feedback, and evaluation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Compared the outcomes of 87 undergraduates in a behavioral self-modification course or 1 of 2 psychology courses (time and expectancy controls) to determine differences relating to the effects of passage of time and expectations of improvement. Ss in the self-modification course demonstrated improvement in target behaviors and reported significantly more positive changes resulting from the course than did Ss in the 2 control courses. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
College professor immediacy is characterized by being available and welcoming to students. Although research has linked immediacy behaviors with motivation, learning, and ratings of the instructor, previous research may not have addressed the possibility of a relation between immediacy and students' ratings of their instructor's attitude toward them. Results from this study illustrate positive relations between several immediacy behaviors and students' (aged 17–35 yrs) perceptions of the instructor's attitude toward them. In addition, perceptions of the instructor's attitude were positively correlated with students' motivation, projected grades, and ratings of the instructor. Given these relations, immediacy behaviors traditionally reported in the literature may merely offer one way to communicate caring about students. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Assessed a teaching approach, termed intracoordinated team teaching, which involved 2 instructors who were each responsible for half the material; however, they planned and prepared the course and exams together and critiqued each other's teaching style. 31 undergraduates in an introductory psychology course in which this method was used completed a questionnaire. Results show that Ss preferred this method over a 1-instructor course. (1 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Tested the hypothesis that even people informed about the self- serving bias will see themselves as less frequently self-serving in their judgments than the average person. Two forms of a classroom demonstration designed to illustrate this effect are presented. Data from a total of 85 undergraduates indicate that Ss who had been informed of the research on self-serving biases in judgment saw themselves as engaging in such distortions less often than the average person. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Studied the facilitation of learning and retention by the use of a textbook for reference during examinations. 48 pairs of undergraduate child psychology students were divided into experimental and control groups and placed into several examination situations. Overall comparison of the 2 groups did not indicate that use of texts improved learning and retention. The possibility of teaching effects being obscured when interaction with student variables is not considered is noted. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Objectively analyzed 11 briefer, less expensive paperback texts for introductory psychology. Results were compared with those of W. Weiten's (see record 1989-06718-001) analysis of regular texts. Although the sample varied, the brief texts were 14% shorter and had larger glossaries and more pedagogical aids than regular texts. The pattern of coverage was similar for brief and regular texts, although coverage for social and developmental psychology dropped in the brief texts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Computed R. Flesch's reading ease and human interest scores for 32 recent textbooks on child and developmental psychology and compared the scores with those previously presented for introductory and educational psychology books. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Discusses student misconceptions about choosing to waive or not to waive their rights to see a letter of recommendation when applying for graduate school. 24 senior psychology majors indicated that they knew that if they waived their rights, they might never see the letter. However, many thought that they could still see their letter if they were not accepted and that they had a right to see it before it was sent. In fact, the relevant laws allow them to see their files only after they are accepted at and enrolled in a graduate program. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This study assessed the relationship between high school psychology and natural science classes and subsequent performance in a college introductory psychology course. After removing the variability due to SAT scores, both high school psychology and high school natural science courses were significantly related to precourse knowledge of psychology. High school psychology was not significantly related to final grades. However, students with strong backgrounds in high school natural sciences obtained higher final grades than students with less preparation.
The purpose of this study was to determine students' opinions of what is valuable for the first class meeting. Ss were 570 undergraduates. The faculty-oriented literature on the first meeting of a class presents many suggestions for content and process. Student data support these suggestions except those urging starting course content and students' divergent views of icebreakers. Being attuned to both student opinions and the faculty literature will help faculty prepare and teach a good first class. Based on student data, 10 of 11 participating faculty made voluntary changes in how they taught the first class meeting the next semester. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Given the finding that current psychology textbooks do not share a substantial common core vocabulary, we examined 2 related questions. First, was there a substantial core a half century ago before introductory texts became so lengthy and encyclopedic? Second, is there a classic core vocabulary (terms in the core vocabulary of both contemporary texts and those from the 1950s)? We did not find a substantial common core for the 1950s texts and conclude that it is highly unlikely one has ever existed. However, a classic core vocabulary of over 100 terms does exist, and we discuss the importance of covering these terms in the introductory course. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Top-cited authors
Regan A. R. Gurung
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