A Half-Century of Teaching Psychology: Retrospective and Perspective

McKeachie, Wilbert J.
University of Michigan,

I began teaching psychology in 1946. Clearly many changes have occurred in the content, methods of teaching, and our understanding of teaching and learning in the years since 1946.

In content we have moved from behaviorism through cognitive psychology to motivation, emotion, and self-regulation. Biopsychology has shown us that the brain works the way our psychological theories would predict.

In teaching we have moved from lectures to active learning and the tools available to us have moved through chalk and blackboard, film, paperback books and xeroxes, TV and videotape, teaching machines, and computers.

In our understanding we have moved from the teacher as a dispenser and reinforcer of learning to the view that what is important is what goes on in students' minds.

I shall review these trends as they are reflected in my own learning from my students, my research, and from interactions with psychologists in other institutions in this and other countries.

Professor Wilbert McKeachie: Biographical notes

Wilbert McKeachie is Professor at the University of Michigan, USA. He received PhD from the University of Michigan in 1949.

He was President of American Psychological Association in 1975-76, President of American Association for Higher Education in 1978-79, Founding President, Division of Educational, Instructional, and School Psychology, International Association of Applied Psychology in 1982-86.

Honorary doctorates from
University of Cincinnati
Denison University
Eastern Michigan University
Hope College
Shawnee State University
Alma College
Northwestern University

  • 1955 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, University of Michigan
  • 1973 American College Testing-American Education Research Association Award for Outstanding Research
  • 1985 American Psychological Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching in Psychology
  • 1987 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology
  • 1988 Edward L. Thorndike Award for Outstanding Research, American Psychological Association Division of Educational Psychology
  • 1997 Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education Award for Lifetime Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning Colleges and Universities.