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Learning Goals: Helping Students Achieve Success. Dawn R. Rager, Eileen M. Merges, & Laura L. Phelan Part 1: Learning Goals & Assessment Part 2: A New Practicum Course for Majors Part 3: Capstone Courses. Part 1: Learning Goals and Assessment Dawn R. Rager.

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learning goals helping students achieve success

Learning Goals: Helping Students Achieve Success

Dawn R. Rager, Eileen M. Merges, & Laura L. Phelan Part 1: Learning Goals & Assessment Part 2: A New Practicum Course for Majors Part 3: Capstone Courses

overview of psychology at sjfc
Overview of Psychology at SJFC
  • Our Psychology Department offers two degrees
    • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
      • more flexible to accommodate a 2nd major or minor
    • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
      • emphasizes the rigor of scientific research
      • best suited for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology or a related field
learning goals
Learning Goals
  • Adapted from The APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major(www.apa.org/ed/psymajor_guideline.pdf)
    • Knowledge, Skills, and Values Consistent with the Science and Application of Psychology
      • Knowledge Base of Psychology
      • Research Methods in Psychology
      • Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology
      • Application of Psychology
      • Values in Psychology
    • Knowledge, Skills, and Values Consistent with a Liberal Arts Education that are Further Developed in Psychology.
      • Information/Technology Literacy & Communication Skills
      • Knowledge/Values of Sociocultural & International Awareness
      • Knowledge/Values of Personal & Career Development
program assessment plan
Program Assessment Plan
  • Purpose is to improve the program and student learning
  • Linked to learning goals/outcomes which, in turn, are aligned with departmental and institutional missions
  • Developed/implemented with input from all department members and with support from the College
  • Factors in recommendations from various sources, e.g.,
    • APA’s The Assessment CyberGuide for Learning Goals and Outcomes in the Undergraduate Psychology Major (www.apa.org/ed/guide_outline.html )
    • Dunn, D.S., Mehrotra, C. M. & Halonen, J.S. (Eds.) (2004). Measuring up: Educational assessment challenges and practices for psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Implemented in manageable way for faculty members and students
  • Is a work continuously in progress
apa best practices in assessment
APA Best Practices in Assessment
  • Top 10 Task Force Recommendations (www.apa.org/ed/best_practices.html)
    • Encourage department ownership to drive the process.
    • Define your objectives in the context of your institutional mission.
    • Focus on collaboration and teamwork.
    • Clarify the purpose of assessment.
    • Identify clear, measurable, and developmental student learning
    • Use multiple measures and sources consistent with resources.
    • Implement continuous assessment with clear, manageable timelines.
    • Help students succeed on assessment tasks.
    • Interpret and use assessment results appropriately.
    • Evaluate your assessment practices.
implementing our assessment plan
Implementing Our Assessment Plan
  • Formal program assessment began in the 2005-06 academic year
    • Assessed Goal 2 – Research Methods in Psychology
  • Continued during the 2006-2007 academic year
    • Assessed Goal 4 – Application of Psychology
conclusions for goal 2
Conclusions for Goal 2
  • Our students are demonstrating appropriate progress for most aspects of Goal 2
    • understanding research methods and their strengths/ weaknesses
    • designing & conducting research & interpreting the results
    • preparing APA style reports of their research
  • Area in need of improvement
    • we need to help our students better understand statistics at a conceptual level
    • Seabrook (2006). Is the teaching of statistical calculations helpful to students’ statistical thinking? Psychology Learning and Teaching, 5 (2), 153-161.
goal 4 assignments
Goal 4 – Assignments
  • Health Psychology (PSYC 255) – Goals 4.1 & 4.2
    • Gather information about your family health history & use heath psychology theories and concepts to develop a preventative health plan for yourself
  • Social Psychology (PSYC 235) – Goal 4.1
    • Use social psychology theories and concepts to design an effective program for encouraging high school students to engage in safe sex practices
  • Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 401) – Goal 4.2
    • Case study with ethical and sociocultural implications
conclusions for goal 4
Conclusions for Goal 4
  • Our students are demonstrating reasonable progress for some aspects of Goal 4 (Application of Psychology):
    • recognizing that ethical issues influence the application of psychological principles in solving problems
    • understanding some ways in which psychology can be applied to solve real world problems
  • Areas in need of improvement – we need to help our students:
    • develop a greater appreciation for how sociocultural issues influence the application of psychological principles in solving problems
    • better understand various ways in which psychology may be applied to solve real world problems
evaluating our assessment practices
Evaluating Our Assessment Practices
  • The data that we’ve collected to date also indicates that we need to:
    • standardize some of our measures (e.g., paper Δ scores)
    • improve the reliability of our measures for Goal 4
      • separately evaluate students’ appreciation of ethical & sociocultural issues
      • develop operational definitions for the categories in our rating scale (i.e., below, meets, and exceeds expectations)
      • possibly use more than two judges to evaluate samples of student work
assessment challenges opportunities
Assessment: Challenges & Opportunities
  • Program assessment can be a challenge in that it requires
    • Careful thought and planning
    • Commitment, time, and effort
    • Continuous review and revision
  • However, despite its challenges, program assessment can
    • be implemented in a way that is manageable (and interesting) for faculty and students
    • provide important insights regarding the effectiveness of the program
    • lead to continuous improvements in the program and student learning
practicum for psychology majors
Practicum for Psychology Majors
  • Why offer this course?
    • Students are unaware or fail to take advantage of learning opportunities
      • Ex/ fieldwork, Independent Research, Honors Program, Psychology Club, Psi Chi
    • Students are not prepared to develop long term goals and effective plans for pursuing careers
    • Because of the large number of majors and heavy advising loads, advising sessions are spent mainly on academic advising
    • Practicum would allow us to promote student development in these areas
    • Practicum designed to achieve various elements of our student learning goals
student learning goals
Student Learning Goals
  • Goal 3: Critical thinking skills in Psychology
  • Goal 4: Application of Psychology
  • Goal 5:Values in Psychology
  • Goal 6: Skills consistent with liberal arts education
  • Goal 7:Sociocultural and International awareness
  • Goal 8: Personal and career development
practicum for psychology majors1
Practicum for Psychology Majors
  • Requirement for new students starting Fall 07
  • Pre-requisite: “C” or better in either PSYC 200 or PSYC 201
  • Taken in sophomore or junior year
  • One section per semester team-taught by all full time faculty
  • 20 to 40 students per class
  • 1 credit course
  • S/U grade
texts we are considering
Texts We are Considering

Kuther, T.L. (2006). The psychology major’s handbook (2nd edition). Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.

Landrum, R.E. & Davis, S.F. (2007). The psychology major: Career options and strategies for success (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.

course goals
Course Goals
  • Students will
    • Review skills necessary to be successful psychology majors
    • Explore psychology learning opportunities
    • Explore career opportunities
    • Prepare job/graduate school materials
syllabus topics sample activities
Syllabus Topics & Sample Activities
  • Self-reflection and identification of personal and professional values
    • Imagine that you have just passed on. You have devoted yourself to your life’s work and have been successful in its execution. What contribution did you make to a better world? When all is said and done, what statement did your life make? Use your answers to these questions to prepare your obituary.
  • Brainstorm and research potential career choices
    • Research a career that you are interested in and one that you are not interested in.
  • Review and explore academic and extracurricular experiences
    • Psychology Involvement Session: The class will recruit students to speak in class about their involvement in learning experiences outside of the classroom
topics sample activities cont d
Topics & Sample Activities (cont’d)
  • Prepare graduate school and/or employment application
    • Resume, vita, personal statements
  • Cultivate professional relationships
    • Requesting letters of recommendation questionnaire
  • Work on interview skills
    • Mock interviews
  • Discuss potential changes in careers and emphasize the importance of continuing education and becoming a life-long learner
    • Attitudes and Options exercise (Landrum & Davis, 2007): Quiz on attitudes towards growth in a career
  • Our practicum covers important topics in an Intro to the major course consistent with those identified in Landrum, Shoemaker, and Davis (2003)
  • Plan to assess effectiveness of the course
    • Psychology Major Career Information Survey Items (Thomas & McDaniel, 2004)
    • Psychology Survey (Landrum & Davis, 2007)

Kuther, T.L. (2006). The psychology major’s handbook (2nd edition). Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.

Landrum, R.E., & Davis, S.F. (2007). The psychology major: Career options and strategies for success (3rd edition). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Landrum, R.E., Shoemaker, C.S., & Davis, S.F. (2003). Important topics in an “Introduction to the Psychology Major” course. Teaching of Psychology, 30, 48-51.

Thomas, J.H., & McDaniel, C.R. (2004). Effectiveness of a required course in career planning for psychology majors. TeachingofPsychology, 31, 22-27.

capstone definitions
Capstone: Definitions
  • Opportunity for students “to demonstrate comprehensive learning in their major through some type of product or performance” (Palomba & Banta, 1999, p.124)
    • Palomba, C.A. & Banta, T.W. (1999). Assessment essentials: Planning, implementing, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • “Requires students to bring together the skills that have been developed in their program of study” (Halpern, 2004, p. 22)
    • Halpern, D.F. (2004). Outcomes assessment 101. In Dunn, D.S., Mehrotra, C. M. & Halonen, J.S. (Eds.), Measuring up: Educational assessment challenges and practices for psychology (pp. 11-26). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
capstone courses at sjfc
Capstone Courses at SJFC
  • History and Systems of Psychology (PSYC 415)
  • Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 401)
  • Seminar in Psychology (PSYC 407)
history and systems
History and Systems
  • Assignments
    • Major paper
      • Examples: The Mind-Body problem, History of a particular discipline, biography of historical figure within context of psychology
    • Presentation
  • Topic of seminar changes each semester. Recent examples include:
    • Sleep
    • Eating Behavior
    • Human Sexuality
    • Detective Fiction and Psychology
    • Women’s Health Issues
    • Political psychology
  • Topic decided by individual faculty
  • Emphasis on reading and discussing primary sources
  • Assignments must include a major paper and a presentation
abnormal psychology
Abnormal Psychology
  • Etiology and treatment of major diagnostic categories are considered from the major theoretical perspectives
    • Biological
    • Cognitive
    • Behavioral
    • Socio-Cultural
    • Psychodynamic
    • Humanistic
abnormal psychology1
Abnormal Psychology
  • Assignments
    • Weekly case studies
      • formulating case conceptualizations from a variety of perspectives
      • provide opportunity to discuss the socio-cultural factors that impact the development and expression of psychological disorders
abnormal psychology2
Abnormal Psychology
  • Assignments (cont’d)
    • Major paper - examining a disorder from at least 2 of the major theoretical perspectives
    • Includes thorough review of relevant literature
    • Requires critical reasoning abilities to analyze and critique literature and formulate own conclusions
capstone and assessment
Capstone and Assessment
  • Papers in seminar courses used to assess goal 2.3 (consume literature)
  • Goal 4.1 & 4.2 (application and ethical/socio-cultural issues) assessed in Abnormal Psychology
  • Departmental discussion surrounding comprehensive exam in Abnormal and/or History & Systems to assess knowledge base in Psychology