Below are the learning goals of the undergraduate psychology program.
Goal 1: Foundational Knowledge
Fundamental Psychological Concepts
- The conceptual development of the discipline;
- The development of the individual;
- The ecological context of human development;
- The relationships of thinking and understanding to brain function,
- and their expression in human and animal life.
Since these four themes imply different ways of knowing about individuals and their interactions, it is essential that students have a strong foundational understanding of each of these areas and of the theories, evidence, and mechanisms that have been offered as explanations of human and animal thought and action.
Development of the discipline
- Understand the historical and philosophical roots of psychology and their development up to the present time;
- Be familiar with the “edges” of current knowledge within the field and thus be able to recognize promising directions for the future development of the discipline;
- Relate Psychology to other academic disciplines (e.g., biology, linguistics, philosophy, economics).
- Appreciate the global context in which Psychology has developed and continues to develop as a discipline.
Development of the individual
- Understand broadly the theories and empirical findings that illuminate current thinking about human development from infancy through old age;
- Understand broadly current thinking about the interaction between heredity and environment as these dynamics affect the development of the individual;
- Understand broadly divergent expressions of thought, emotion, and behavior, sometimes characterized as being “abnormal,” and the theories and findings that explain them, as they affect variation in the course of individual development;
- Understand aspects of human development and behavior that are shared across or may differ according to cultural, ethnic, gender, geographic, or other boundaries.
The ecological context of human development
- Understand the major theories and empirical findings that inform current thinking about the ways in which individuals function within and are affected by relationships with and among peers and groups;
- Understand broadly the theories and empirical findings that inform current thinking about the effects of family life on human development;
- Understand how culture affects the expression of thought, emotions, and behavior, and how norms of the expression of each can be culturally mediated;
- Understand broadly the theories and empirical findings that inform current thinking about the influences on human development and behavior that derive from institutions, social-cultural structures, social class, and religion, and legal/political systems;
- Understand the diversity of human thought, emotion, and behavior including what is termed “normal” and “abnormal” and the bases upon which they are considered to be divergent or similar.
The biological and physiological aspects of psychological life
- Understand various theories that describe the relationship between the mind and the brain;
- Understand various theories and empirical findings that inform current knowledge about the relationship between the brain and behavior;
- Understand the major theories and empirical findings that inform current knowledge about the nature of thinking (cognition), memory, emotion, and behavior.
Goal 2: Epistemological Foundations
Understanding the foundational theories, concepts, and findings of Psychology requires familiarity with and appreciation for the assets and limitations of different methods of knowing. That is, students must be exposed to epistemological inquiry so that they develop a firm grasp of the significance of research findings and their own creative use of knowledge.
Appreciating the use of different tools of inquiry
- quantitative analysis;
- experimental design and inference;
- qualitative analysis;
- mixed research methods.
Use of different tools of inquiry
- use probability and statistical analysis to evaluate and interpret data;
- create and interpret graphical representations of data;
- use qualitative analysis to evaluate and interpret data.
Communicating scientific understanding in oral and written form
- present ideas that are grounded in evidence in a logical and coherent manner, in writing and in formal and informal presentations;
- communicate with academic as well as more general audiences.
Engagement with psychological inquiry
- evaluate the significance of an area of study;
- use primary literature to develop an in-depth understanding and critical analysis capacity as well as to develop independent hypotheses;
- design and conduct studies to test specific hypotheses;
- interpret data and evaluate hypotheses and place findings into the larger context of the scientific area in question.
Goal 3: Application of Psychology
It is necessary not only to understand facts, theories, and epistemological aspects of Psychology but also to have the skills and perspectives necessary to apply this knowledge to and have it reciprocally informed by everyday life. Therefore, our goal is to educate and encourage our students to:
- Apply diverse facts and theories over a wide range of contexts from the laboratory to social institutions to everyday life;
- Make connections between diverse facts and theories;
- Apply narrative and normative analysis, as well as causal and correlation-based analysis, to answer specific questions;
- Develop an understanding of limits and possibilities regarding how psychological principles and evidence can contribute to informing, and can be informed by, social and policy issues;
- Develop an understanding of limits and possibilities regarding what psychological science can contribute to a range of civic, social, and global responsibilities in both the developed and developing nations;
- Understand the limits of applicability (e.g., generalizability, cross-cultural translation) and the hazards of premature or uncritical application of psychological principles and evidence.
Goal 4: Values in Psychology
The preservation and production of knowledge in Psychology entail the ability to weigh evidence critically, to embrace, understand, work with and learn from ambiguity, and to recognize and apply ethical practices that include respect for humans and other forms of life. Specifically, our goal is to educate and encourage our students to:
- Appreciate and assimilate the positive roles of curiosity, healthy skepticism and doubt in scientific inquiry;
- Evaluate psychological explanations and recognize that such explanations are inherently complex and must take into account variability along the continuum of human and animal life;
- Recognize the evolving and cumulative nature of psychological explanations;
- Understand and articulate the tentative nature (i.e., available evidence continuously modified by new evidence) of psychological knowledge and limits of its methods;
- Recognize and respect the numerous manifestations of diversity, as well as the common universals in thought and action, that characterize human development;
- Understand that the methods that guide psychological science, must reflect, in Bronowski’s words, independence of mind, originality, and dissent in the search for truth. They likewise must eliminate the untoward influence of personal gain and related desires, because the values of science are “…the inescapable conditions for it’s practice;”
- Follow the APA Ethics Code in the treatment of human and nonhuman participants in the design, data collection, interpretation and reporting of psychological research;
- Recognize that ethically complex situations can develop in the application of psychological principles;
- Recognize the necessity of ethical behavior in all aspects of the science and practice of Psychology.