Teaching of psychology in the southwestern United States, Mexico and Italy

McCarthy, Sherri
Northern Arizona University,

This session will summarize the teaching of psychology in the southwestern United States, including information about high school, community college, university and graduate programs. Comparisons will be made to the curriculum and programs in Mexico and Italy.

Psychology education: Types, Levels, Structure, Disciplines, Contents, Assessing students' knowledge and skills in psychology

  1. What types and levels of psychology education take place in your country (secondary schools, colleges, universities, professional schools, etc)? All of the above
  2. What national structures, frameworks, guidelines, or standards exist to define, regulate or accredit psychology education? States establish licensure requirements for professional psychologists and counselors; the American Psychological Association accredits professional preparation programs; educational accreditation agencies oversee secondary , community college and university programs.
  3. What is the structure of psychology education (e.g., the curriculum of psychology education, and associated learning disciplines? A popular elective in secondary schools;t least one introductory course at the college level required in most disciplines;psychology majors generally complete 15 courses in specific topics at the undergraduate level; 12 to 15 more specific psychology courses and a thesis research project at the master’s level and 12 to 15 more, plus an internship and a research dissertation at the doctoral level. The focus area determines the exact courses, but general topics such as personality, testing, biopsychology, learning & memory; social psychology, human development and history are included in all programs.
  4. What major topics, principles, and concepts are typically included in the introductory psychology course in different educational institutions? Research methods; history; learning & memory; sensation & perception; developmental psychology; abnormal psychology; social psychology.
  5. What principle theories and authors are included? Textbook authors abound; the most commonly used include Gray, Santrock, Weiten and Coon. Psychoanalytic, humanistic, behavioristic, cognitive and developmental theories are covered. Common theorists include Freud, Piaget, Maslow, Skinner, Beck, Adler, Jung, Vygotsky, James, Ebbinghaus.
  6. What methods and techniques are used for assessing students' knowledge and skills in psychology? Papers, projects, presentations, oral & written exams.
  7. What programs of psychology education exist for people interested in continuing and lifelong learning of psychology? Community college programs are available to all. The courts often mandate study for some, particularly in the areas of developmental, family counseling and substance abuse.

Methods and Resources for Teaching and Learning psychology.

  1. What methods are used for teaching the facts, methodology, concepts, and principles of psychology? Lecture, discussion, interaction, multimedia, role plays, games & cooperative learning
  2. What methods of theoretical psychology education are used? same
  3. What methods of applied or practical psychology education are used? Same as above, plus practicum, observations and service learning
  4. What methods are used for promoting active learning? See above
  5. How are new technologies (e.g., computers, multimedia, Internet, etc.) used in the teaching of psychology? To facilitate research and discussion and to make education available to students at geographically remote sites.
  6. What distant methods of teaching psychology are used? Internet/Web CT, cable tv, interactive television
  7. How does psychological practice inform psychology education? Much variation from site to site—typically, federally funded research within agencies is disseminated through journals and, eventually texts, to students.
  8. What resources (textbooks, computers, multimedia, Internet database, etc.) are available for psychology education? All of these.
  9. How are psychology teachers trained for different educational settings (e.g., secondary schools, colleges, universities, and professional schools)? Some variation by state; generally, secondary teachers are trained in educational methods, and complete a focus of approximately 4 to 8 courses in psychology along with this; community college teachers receive a Master’s degree in psychology; university professors obtain a Ph.D. in their specific area of teaching (ie.. educational psychology, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, industrial psychology, etc..) and those at professional schools have Psy.D. or Ph.D. degress.
  10. What continuing education programs exist for teachers of psychology? Several annual institutes are offered, primarily through professional organizations such as APA, Div. 2, TOPPS and APS.
  11. What journals in the presenter’s country emphasize the teaching of psychology? Teaching of Psychology; Journal of Educational Psychology
  12. What are the associations of psychology teachers in the country? American Psychological Association (APA) (with regional organizations, as well—WPA, RMPA, SWPA, MWPA, EPA—and state sub-organizations); American Psychological Society (APS)