An update from project leads Selma Hamdani, Maire-Pierre Gosselin (absent from picture), and Madeleine Côté (Psychology).
The purpose of our project, as we detailed in our preliminary report, is to develop a series of laboratories that would be used in the General Psychology course. These labs would be composed of several elements, many of which would involve written components and would culminate in a written reflection. The labs would focus on the scientific process while engaging the students in course content, data collection and analysis.
An interview with a focus group comprised of former General Psychology students was conducted in February. The results of this exercise informed us that students enjoyed the breath of topics encountered in our introductory course, but were surprised by the focus on scientific methodology in the field of psychology. Students were definitely enthusiastic about the idea of labs.
We reviewed a wide range of scholarly resources related to lab instruction in introductory psychology courses, including
- A 2014 APA report identifying the fundamentals of introductory psychology courses,including exposure to scientific methods and authemtic laboratory activities
- The APA’s Online Psychology Laboratory, which provides access to numerous virtual demonstrations and simulations
- A new bibliography on laboratory instruction published by the Office of Science Education at McGill
- A 2015 presentation at the National Institute On the Teaching of Psychology on engaging students in research methods activities
In April we conducted another interview with a focus group of teachers who currently teach General Psychology. Again, the responses were encouraging for our initiative. Teachers also voiced their support for a science-based, methodology-based introduction to labs for Gen Psych students.
We are currently in the process of designing four new labs for General Psychology. The Psychology WID team has given itself a mandate of creating complete and clear lab protocols that can be used as is, yet will also be flexible enough to be customized to each teacher’s specific course content. The labs will have clear grading schemes and offer grading rubric templates available for teachers to use.
The next step will involve interviewing psychology researchers at Montreal universities who are currently conducting original work in a range of different sub-fields. These interviews will be used in the pre-lab classes, with an aim to introducing students to the real-life perspectives of researchers, their personal journeys into the topics and problems of contemporary psychology, and their ways of thinking about experiment design.
In the Fall 2019 semester, the Psychology WID team will be piloting and refining these new lab activities and resources. We plan to share our results with our fellow teachers within the Psychology department and any other interested parties.