University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Prof. Regan A. R. Gurung (Psychology, Human Development) was published recently in American Psychologist®, the official peer-reviewed scholarly journal of the American Psychological Association and one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals in the field of psychology. The article — Strengthening introductory psychology: A new model for teaching the introductory course — is published in the February-March 2016 issue of the journal.
Introductory psychology is taught around the nation to more than 1.4 million students, according to Gurung, yet psychology educators have limited knowledge about what is covered in the class, or to the extent to which content reflects the current scope of the discipline.
“Introduction to Psychology is ubiquitous in U.S. colleges and universities with approximately 13,000 instructors teaching the course and up to 1.8 million students taking it,” said Gurung. “For most students it is the only exposure to psychology they get. The contemporary Intro Psych course structure rarely reflects the current scope of the discipline, which has evolved with significant technological and methodological innovations and new areas emerging and pre-existing areas merging.”
In the journal article, Gurung, the lead author, proposes that common content across intro courses provides a singular message to students and the public about what constitutes the field of psychology. On the flipside, the lack of a common core for the intro course poses substantial challenges for instructors who teach this course as well as the discipline of psychology. Students in different institutions, sometimes even within the same institution, are not being exposed to the same content.
“The new model will greatly aid assessment of course learning outcomes,” he says.
Gurung said that rejection rates for the journal are high (up to 87%) and consequently it is quite the accomplishment to get published. The journal goes out to over 80,000 APA members, worldwide. The UW- Green Bay name is going to be on a lot of people’s minds this week.
“This is the first time there is a special issue on undergraduate education and the first time an article on teaching Intro to Psychology made it into the journal. The American Psychologist is arguably one of the most prestigious peer reviewed journal to publish in in the field of psychology.
It is an extraordinary accomplishment that has the potential to reshape how Introductory Psychology is taught across the country,” said Prof. Ryan Martin, chair of UWGB’s Psychology program. “A publication like this is not only a credit to Regan’s dedication to teaching psychology, but also to the quality of his work.”
The new model for teaching the intro course integrates (a) scientific foundations, (b) five major domains of knowledge (biological, cognitive, developmental, social and personality, and mental and physical health domains), and (c) cross-cutting themes relevant to all domains (cultural and social diversity, ethics, variations in human functioning, and applications).
“In addition, we propose five recommendations for strengthening the core of the intro course, including an experiential or laboratory component,” Gurung says. “Given the exponential growth of psychological knowledge and applications during the past decades, we caution against providing exhaustive coverage of all subfields of psychology in a one-semester intro course. The article nicely discussing the challenges that lie ahead for the discipline of psychology as it launches this new model for introductory psychology.”
Gurung is the lead author on the piece. Co-authors are college faculty members Jana Hackathorn (Murray State), Carolyn Enns (Cornell), Susan Frantz (Highline Community College), John Cacioppo (University of Chicago) and James Freeman (University of Virginia), and Trudy Loop, psychology faculty member and Dean of The Altamont School, college preparatory school in Birmingham, Ala.
American Psychologist publishes current and timely high-impact papers of broad interest, including empirical reports, meta-analyses, and scholarly reviews covering science, practice, education, and policy. Contributions often address national and international policy issues. Articles published are written in a style that is accessible to all psychologists and the public.