Grand Theme

Teaching Philosophy of the Undergraduate Psychology Curriculum

  • To equip students to become professionals of psychology theories and methods who know how to generate and communicate knowledge to others.

Two General Guiding Principles

Generating and Evaluating Knowledge

  1. Our curriculum focuses on training students to acquire a broad and deep knowledge base with a strong theoretical and empirical understanding of psychology theories and methods.
  2. Students are encouraged to develop in-depth knowledge in different concentration areas that include cognitive science, education & human development, social & industrial-organizational, and psychology & health.
  3. Attitudes towards scientific inquiry are developed through experiments and laboratory work that students have to conduct their own first-hand research systematically.
  4. Through independent research projects, students develop an inquisitive mind in evaluating and generating knowledge on their own.

Communicating and Applying Knowledge

  1. A practitioner’s mind set and skill set are developed through practicum courses and various applied course projects.
  2. In various project, class, and conference presentations, students develop skills in communicating knowledge to professionals and lay-people.
  3. Through group projects, students are trained to be both of a good leader and team-players with a strong emphasis on developing good collaboration skills with others.

Five Specific Learning Outcomes

Adapted from “APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major”, Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Education, Education Directorate, American Psychological Association: (Aug 2013)

This framework includes four skills-based goals and one content-focused goal. The roster of Guidelines 2.0 includes the following:

Goal 1: Knowledge Base in Psychology
Goal 2: Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking
Goal 3: Ethical and Social Responsibility in a Diverse World
Goal 4: Communication
Goal 5: Professional Development

Each goal begins with a definition that describes the scope of the ideas contained in the overview of the goal. Each goal contains an appropriate range of explicit student learning outcomes that incorporate action verbs and measurement potential. A summary of each of the five learning goals and their associated outcomes follows.

Goal 1. Knowledge Base of Psychology

Students should demonstrate fundamental knowledge and comprehension of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, historical trends, and empirical findings to discuss how psychological principles apply to behavioral problems. Students completing foundation courses should demonstrate breadth of their knowledge and application of psychological ideas to simple problems; students completing a baccalaureate degree should show depth in their knowledge and application of psychological concepts and frameworks to problems of greater complexity.

  1. Describe key concepts, principles, and overarching themes in psychology
  2. Develop a working knowledge of psychology’s content domains
  3. Describe applications of psychology

Goal 2. Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking

The skills in this domain involve the development of scientific reasoning and problem solving, including effective research methods. Students completing foundation-level courses should learn basic skills and concepts in interpreting behavior, studying research, and applying research design principles to drawing conclusions about psychological phenomena; students completing a baccalaureate degree should focus on theory use as well as designing and executing research plans.

  1. Use scientific reasoning to interpret psychological phenomena
  2. Demonstrate psychology information literacy
  3. Engage in innovative and integrative thinking and problem solving
  4. Interpret, design, and conduct basic psychological research
  5. Incorporate sociocultural factors in scientific inquiry

Goal 3. Ethical and Social Responsibility in a Diverse World

The skills in this domain involve the development of ethically and socially responsible behaviors for professional and personal settings in a landscape that involves increasing diversity. Students completing foundation-level courses should become familiar with the formal regulations that govern professional ethics in psychology and begin to embrace the values that will contribute to positive outcomes in work settings and in building a society responsive to multicultural and global concerns. Students completing a baccalaureate degree should have more direct opportunities to demonstrate adherence to professional values that will help them optimize their contributions and work effectively, even with those who do not share their heritage and traditions. This domain also promotes the adoption of personal and professional values that can strengthen community relationships and contributions.

  1. Apply ethical standards to evaluate psychological science and practice
  2. Build and enhance interpersonal relationships
  3. Adopt values that build community at local, national, and global levels

Goal 4. Communication

Students should demonstrate competence in writing and in oral and interpersonal communication skills. Students completing foundation-level courses should write a cogent scientific argument, present information using a scientific approach, engage in discussion of psychological concepts, explain the ideas of others, and express their own ideas with clarity. Students completing a baccalaureate degree should produce a research study or other psychological project, explain scientific results, and present information to a professional audience. They should also develop flexible interpersonal approaches that optimize information exchange and relationship development.

  1. Demonstrate effective writing for different purposes
  2. Exhibit effective presentation skills for different purposes
  3. Interact effectively with others

Goal 5. Professional Development

The emphasis in this goal is on application of psychology-specific content and skills, effective self-reflection, project-management skills, teamwork skills, and career preparation. Foundation-level outcomes concentrate on the development of work habits and ethics to succeed in academic settings. The skills in this goal at the baccalaureate level refer to abilities that sharpen student readiness for postbaccalaureate employment, graduate school, or professional school. These skills can be developed and refined both in traditional academic settings and in extracurricular involvement. In addition, career professionals can be enlisted to support occupational planning and pursuit. This emerging emphasis should not be construed as obligating psychology programs to obtain employment for their graduates but instead as encouraging programs to optimize the competitiveness of their graduates for securing places in the workforce.

  1. Apply psychological content and skills to career goals
  2. Exhibit self-efficacy and self-regulation
  3. Refine project-management skills
  4. Enhance teamwork capacity
  5. Develop meaningful professional direction for life after graduation