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What are psych majors expected to learn?

The American Psychological Association has put out a report (www.apa.org/monitor/julaug02/psychmajors.aspxf) describing the learning goals for psychology majors and the accompanying learning outcomes. This summary of the ten things psych majors should get out of their education is taken from the July/August 2002 edition of the APA Monitor on Psychology.

1. Theory and Content of Psychology

Demonstrate familiarity with major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings and historical trends. Suggested outcomes include describing and applying psychology’s concepts, language and theories, explaining its major perspectives and demonstrating understanding of its breadth and depth.

2. Research Methods in Psychology

Understand and apply basic research methods, including research design, data analysis and interpretation. Suggested outcomes include differentiating research methods, evaluating aptness of research conclusions, designing and conducting basic studies, and generalizing research conclusions appropriately.

3. Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology

Respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry and the scientific approach. Suggested outcomes include using and engaging in critical thinking, using reasoning in arguments and persuasion, and approaching problems with sophistication.

4. Application of Psychology

Understand and apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues. Suggested outcomes include identifying psychology’s major applications, articulating how it can be used toward social understanding and public policy, and recognizing the ethical complexities of applying psychology.

5. Values in Psychology

Weigh evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values underpinning psychology. Suggested learning outcomes include understanding the need for ethical behavior, tolerance of ambiguity, demonstration of skepticism and intellectual curiosity, attunement to scientific evidence, civic responsibility, and respect for human diversity.

6. Informational and Technological Literacy

Demonstrate information competence and the ability to use computers and other technology for many purposes. Suggested outcomes include demonstrating competent, ethical, and responsible use of information and in academic work, applying software in research reports, and mastering such computer basics as Internet navigation and spreadsheet generation.

7. Communication Skills

Communicate effectively. Suggested outcomes include demonstrating effective writing, interpersonal and oral communication skills, showing quantitative literacy, and collaborating effectively with others.

8. Sociocultural and International Awareness

Recognize, understand and respect the complexity of sociocultural and international diversity. Suggested outcomes include showing sensitivity to and respect for diversity and being able to consider and explain the role of cultural, racial, ethnic, and economic factors, and of privilege and discrimination in people’s behavior.

9. Personal Development

Show insight into one’s own and others’ behavior and mental processes and apply effective strategies for self-management and self-improvement. Suggested outcomes include the ability to apply psychology to personal and professional development, to self-regulate, and to display personal integrity.

10. Career Planning and Development

Emerge from the major with realistic ideas about how to use psychological knowledge, skills and values in various occupations, and in graduate or professional school. Suggested outcomes include applying psychology to principles to career decision-making, aiming for feasible career paths, identifying realistic graduate-education pathways, taking practical career steps, and valuing life-long learning and ongoing professional development.