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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 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 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 • 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 • 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) • 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
Conclusions • 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)
References 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 • 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 • History and Systems of Psychology (PSYC 415) • Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 401) • Seminar in Psychology (PSYC 407)
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
Seminar • Topic of seminar changes each semester. Recent examples include: • Sleep • Eating Behavior • Human Sexuality • Detective Fiction and Psychology • Women’s Health Issues • Political psychology
Seminar • Topic decided by individual faculty • Emphasis on reading and discussing primary sources • Assignments must include a major paper and a presentation
Abnormal Psychology • Etiology and treatment of major diagnostic categories are considered from the major theoretical perspectives • Biological • Cognitive • Behavioral • Socio-Cultural • Psychodynamic • Humanistic
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 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 • 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