Teaching the Hard Disciplines of Seeing and Thinking in Contemporary American Psychology

Lutsky, Neil
Carleton College Northfield,

This talk will address how teachers of psychology in the United States are attempting to teach "the hard disciplines of seeing and thinking" in psychology amid three trends.

Those trends in undergraduate psychology education are: wider public access to higher education coupled with high interest in psychology, increased reliance on technology in teaching, and the inclusion of new subject areas in psychology (e.g., cross-cultural psychology, positive psychology, and the psychology of computing) with growing pressure for standardized assessment. These trends, in part, threaten to undermine efforts to involve students actively in psychology as instructors attempt to teach larger numbers of students, employ technology to achieve economic efficiencies, and cover more and more subject matter. However, teachers of psychology are also responding to these forces in new and creative ways. For example, certain applications of technology, to be described in the talk, involve students as psychological scientists who evaluate and conduct research. An increased emphasis on laboratory work and student-faculty collaborative research for psychology majors also attempts to strengthen undergraduate education in the science of psychology. In keeping with more general trends in science education in the United States, teachers of psychology are now both more likely to be specialized and to make hard choices between breadth of coverage and depth of student involvement throughout the major, even in the introductory course. The talk will emphasize the importance of maintaining students' active engagement with psychological science, both to serve their broad educational needs and those of the field of psychology.