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How Psychology has Responded to the Learning Enhancement Taskforce

by Rich Allen, Professor of Psychology, with the approval of Peter Kaplan, Chair

The Psychology Department offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology.  Our undergraduate curriculum committee worked for two years revising these curricula to ensure that they were consistent with American Psychological Associations recommendations for the undergraduate Psychology.   When we were asked by CLAS to incorporate the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Essential Learning Outcomes into our newly revised curricula, we were concerned that this activity could undo most of the work we had completed over the past two years to create developmentally cohesive curricula that were consistent with the recommendations of our field.  What we learned was that the ELOs and corresponding VALUE rubrics fit perfectly with the APAs recommendations and the curricula we had designed.  Further, we realized that the ELOs and corresponding rubrics provided us a language that would help link the learning goals we set in Psychology with those of other disciplines that chose to use them.

We incorporated the Quantitative Literacy, Information Literacy, Inquiry and Analysis, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Ethical Reasoning, and Intercultural Knowledge and Competence rubrics quite easily into our existing curriculum goals.  Of course, not all of the VALUE rubrics mapped directly onto our current curricular goals.  We did not incorporate the Reading, Creative Thinking, Teamwork, Civic Knowledge and Engagement, or several other rubrics into our existing learning goals.  We believe these skills and competencies are important for undergraduates to develop also, but they were not the primary focus of our curricular goals as currently stated.  However, we can use this knowledge and the common language provided by the ELOs and VALUE rubrics to begin conversations within the department about possible curricular goal revisions and with other departments in CLAS about ways in which we can work together as a college to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our undergraduate students more broadly.

Psychology Department Curriculum Goals and Essential Learning Outcomes

Goal 1: Knowledge Base of Psychology

Students will recognize, explain, and distinguish the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in Psychology.

Essential Learning Outcome: The development of Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World

Goal 2: Research Methods in Psychology

Students will demonstrate the statistical, organizational, writing, and analytical skills necessary to interpret and conduct meaningful and valid research in Psychology. 

Essential Learning Outcomes: The development of Intellectual and Practical Skills, including Quantitative Literacy, Information Literacy, and Inquiry and Analysis skills.

Goal 3: Critical Thinking Skills

Students will use skeptical inquiry and scientific thinking skills to interpret and solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.

Essential Learning Outcomes: The development of Intellectual and Practical Skills, including Critical Thinking skills.

Goal 4: Application of Psychology

Students will apply psychological principles to solve personal, social, and/or organizational problems.

Essential Learning Outcomes: The development of Intellectual and Practical Skills, including Problem Solving skills.

Goal 5: Values in Psychology

Students will evaluate evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, recognize and respect diversity, and/or reflect other values that are the underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.

Essential Learning Outcome: The development of Personal and Social Responsibility, including Ethical Reasoning and Intercultural Knowledge and Competence.


August 28, 2014

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