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HOW TO TEACH INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY: KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE Dr. Laura Mitchell and Steven Brown Bsc (Hons) MRes
Thinking about engagement • CONTENT probably the first thing you think about • But how to avoid…. ‘The student as parrot’ ? (i.e. the ‘surface’ approach to learning)
Deeper engagement • In a large cohort lecture this can be difficult. • Encouraging interaction is useful:
Discursive components Formal discursive components essential for development of critical and problem solving skills Students can learn to reflect upon and construct their knowledge The secret to doing this well: Combine your own creativity and experience with guidance from learning and teaching literature
Important phrases Student-centred learning: an active, dynamic process Constructive alignment: learning is aligned to the ‘learning outcomes’ of the class
Where did you study? • Think back to your time as an undergraduate. • What can you recall? • Which classes/modules did you enjoy? • Discuss examples of GOOD learning experiences.
Good learning experiences • For me, I recall: • Experiments • Group work • Enthusiastic lecturers/tutors • Quizzes
Background to teaching method • Idea (in a nutshell): To provide Undergraduate students with purposefully bad ‘studies’ with amusing content to help them familiarise themselves with methodologies, writing style etc. early on. • Students can engage with material which is memorable, interactive and fun. • Postgraduate students who teach can use the material as a way of ‘brushing up’ on their marking skills.
Aims and objectives • In addition to providing both Undergraduates and Postgraduates with engaging material, the teaching method can: • Test gullability of ‘outsiders’ • Poke fun at ‘common sense’ aspect of Psychology, as perceived by ‘outsiders’ • Amuse and inspire
Journal of Exploratory Nonsense • Original idea was solely to amuse myself, building a website posing as a ‘fake journal’, eventually calling upon submissions by other Psychologists to circulate in email subscriptions. • All work and no play... • End goal of compiling a book.
Some original titles • Positive correlation between Chris Martins smugness and global warming. • Ability to withstand sub zero temperatures: A comparison of Glasweigan girls on a night out with polar explorers. • Are tall people better at reaching high shelves in supermarkets? • A longitudinal study exploring whether or not eating your crusts make your hair go curly.
Relation between idea and teaching • Learning outcomes of Introductory Psychology module at GCU: • Be able to demonstrate knowledge of the basics of experimental method and the difficulties in carrying out experiments • Be able to write, using appropriate terminology and ideas, on specific topics, issues and problems • Be able to communicate ideas and views based on psychological theory, coherently, cogently and confidently
Relation between idea and teaching • Other elements from Introductory Psychology module at GCU. • Research participation embedded in Introductory module and so task could/should help identify strengths and weaknesses in the research they participate in and read about in journals and books • Referencing and plagiarism embedded in Introductory module and so task could/should help students identify examples of good/bad referencing and how to avoid plagiarism
In practice • Talk through the study with the students, opening up discussion concerning their opinions and engaging them in group discussion. • Ensure each individual has brought with them a genuine journal article, as instructed. • Ask them to define any potential strengths and weaknesses and come together in groups after discussion to report their findings.
The task itself • Three different ‘studies’. • One: Average rock band: Is there a creative peak of musicianship? • Two: Do other people’s chips taste better? • Three: A sperm for all seasons? An exploration into planned and unplanned birth trends • All have the same problems. All have different problems.
Your task • Discuss, in groups, the strengths/weaknesses of the ‘study’ you have been given. • Report back to other groups, giving a brief overview of the content of the ‘study’. • Match the weaknesses you identified to an already compiled list.
Post-task discussion • Afterwards, discuss amongst yourselves how much you enjoyed the task and how well it would work as: • A teaching tool for Undergraduates • A marking tool for Postgraduates • A fun email you might find in your inbox
Average rock band... • Weak rationale • Underdeveloped lit review, with personal opinion • Sampling: reliability of Internet sources • Sampling: ten bands isn’t enough? • Bias: selection of albums • Sweeping statements and generalisations • Cause and effect inference in weak correlation implied • Validity? Implications?
Chips... • Descriptives? • No rationale • Wrong design stated • No theoretical background • Language: biased, casual, with overstatements • No ages given for participants • Bias in ‘mines’ and ‘someone elses’ chips? • Order effects? • No figures
Sperm... • Inappropriate/unsuitable title? • Not enough detail in abstract • Lack of references • Hypothesis does not follow on logically • Inappropriate detail in methodology • Table not labelled properly, with poor layout • No info on results on gender, with t-test no reported • Language: tone and style • Suggestions for future research do not follow on logically • Interpretation of results is speculative • Inconsistency in reporting percentages
Post-task discussion • Take a few minutes to discuss amongst yourselves where best (if anywhere) this idea would fit comfortably. • Teaching scope? Or for amusement purposes only? • Would you like to see more?
Future • Broaden scope to outwith psychology, University wide. • Why should Psychologists have all the fun? • Limitless scope to keep doing new ideas that are up to date and relevant, to get students talking and excited.
Caledonian Scholars and Associates Initiative • The Caledonian Scholars and Associates Scheme has been designed to contribute to a distributive leadership model to encourage development and innovation in learning and teaching across the University, and to support Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in Learning and Teaching.
Recently funded projects @ GCU • The design, implementation and evaluation of a blended learning module in Cyberpsychology. • Exploring nursing students’ decision-making while in a Second Life clinical simulation laboratory. • Running a ‘virtual’ company by the use of ‘real world’ support. • Technologically driven.
Potential problems • ‘If it’s not examined… it’s not engaged with’ - ‘strategic’ learning. • Possible solution: Engage students with the benefits from the onset. • ‘I’ll take it home and do it later!’ • Guidance is extremely important in such exercises.
Later in the programme • Formative assessment: Students judge the quality of what they are producing and regulate what they are doing throughout • Autonomous learning developed through judgement about work of others • Reflective practice - for rest of career