In One Ear and Out the Other: The Correction of Psychology
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In One Ear and Out the Other: The Correction of Psychology Misconceptions and Our Mind’s Resistance to It. Samuel Erickson & Karla A. Lassonde, Faculty Mentor Department of Psychology, Minnesota State University, Mankato. Refutational Texts

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In One Ear and Out the Other: The Correction of Psychology Misconceptions

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In one ear and out the other the correction of psychology misconceptions

In One Ear and Out the Other: The Correction of Psychology

Misconceptions

and Our Mind’s Resistance to It

Samuel Erickson & Karla A. Lassonde, Faculty Mentor

Department of Psychology, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Refutational Texts

Introduction: Jeremy was finishing up with his biopsychology multiple-choice exam. He had time to spare so he decided to check over all his answers. As he looked at each question he felt confident about most of his answers. However, he was second guessing his answers on a handful of questions. Jeremy considered changing his answers. He remembered being told it is best to stick with your first choice so he didn’t. When he got his exam back he asked the teacher whether it was best to change an answer on a multiple-choice test or best to stick with your initial choice.

Refutation: The teacher said that it is widely accepted among students that changing answers on a multiple-choice test could actually lower your score. She wanted to explain to Jeremy this was actually not true.

Non-refutation: The teacher told Jeremy that he was smart for carefully considering the answers to questions before turning his exam in. She told him she would point out some specific study methods to help.

Correct Outcome: She said if you are unsure of an answer it is best to switch from an initial hunch.

Spillover: She told him he would do better next time.

Closing: Jeremy was happy to have met with his teacher after the exam. He told her that he had a lot to learn about testing and was hopeful to continue to make progress.

Comprehension Question: Did Jeremy take an exam?

  • Results

  • Participants took longer to read outcome sentences following passages that did not contain a refutation compared to those that did, F(1, 28)=8.25, p <.05.

  • Participants scored significantly better on the posttest compared to pretest t(29)=10.42, p <.05 averaging 6 misconceptions correct on the pretest and 17 correct on the posttest.

  • Discovering the Error of our Ways

  • In our previous study, we found a shocking number of psychology students held fast to misconceptions in the field. Here are the top 3 most commonly held misconceptions:

  • “If you’re unsure of your answer when taking a test it’s best to stick with your initial hunch”

    • 97% of participants

  • “Students learn best when teaching styles are matched to their learning styles”

    • 97% of participants

  • “Individuals commonly repress the memories of traumatic experiences”

    • 89% of participants

    • Why do our students hold fast to these beliefs?

    • Wouldn’t further education in psychology correct them?

    • In the previous study, senior psychology students performed significantly better than 1st year students but still missed about half.

    • This has lead us, as well as other researchers (Kowalski, 2009), to believe that conflicting new information is overpowered by stored knowledge.

    • Goal of current research: To use a method of direct refutation to override misconceptions.

Discussion

Refutation text competed with prior knowledge about the misconception in memory and readers had less trouble processing the outcome sentence.

Reading these texts led to temporary knowledge revision.

Compared to the previous average of senior psychology students of 53%, our participants composed of both introductory and senior students averaged 71% correct after reading. The beauty of this method is that it can easily be applied in the classroom, and can complement traditional teaching.

Potential problems that we must address is that this method’s assessment is done by a True/False questionnaire. An issue in using T/F questions is that students are liable to guess on the answer. To correct for this, we will need to further investigate each individual’s data to search for continuity or guessing.

Current research we are doing investigates the effectiveness of including not only refutation in passages but explanation behind the refutation.

Further longitudinal studies are also need to assess the long term effectiveness of this method.

Current Experiment

There is a striking prevalence of misconceptions among Psychology students. Experience in psychology courses appears to help revise some misconceptions; however more needs to be done outside of traditional teaching.

  • Method

  • Participants: ThirtyMinnesota State University, Mankato undergraduates received partial course credit for their participation.

  • *Participants who correctly answered 10 or more misconceptions on the pre-test were excluded from further testing.

  • Materials:

  • Demographic questions about age, major, and history of courses taken in psychology.

  • 48 True/False Questionnaire

  • 24 questions representing myths in psychology, (Lilienfeld et al., 2009)

  • 24 questions on psychological topics to prevent participants from identifying the myths

  • Passages in two conditions:

  • Refutation- a sentence explicitly mentioning that the introduced misconception is incorrect.

  • No Refutation-no correction of misconception.

  • Procedure:First, participants were given a demographic sheet and questionnaire to fill out. Next, qualifying participants read 24 passages presented line by line on the computer. Participants went through three practice questions before starting and were allowed to ask any questions if they had any. The time it took participants to read the Correct Outcome was recorded. Finally, participants completed the questionnaire again.

  • References

  • Lilienfeld, Scott O., Steven J. Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry L. Beyerstein. 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior. N.p.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

  • Kowalski, P., & Taylor, A. K. (2009). The effect of refuting misconceptions in the introductory psychology class. Teaching of Psychology, 36, 153-159


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