The mission of the Department of Psychology is to provide students with a variety of experiences that contribute to a multilayered education in the history, philosophy, methods, and diverse applications of experimental psychology. In more specific terms, the department seeks to facilitate the various processes (direct instruction, observational learning, hands-on experience, contact with a variety of professionals, etc.) by which students can acquire and practice (apply) the following: Knowledge of the core concepts of psychology; research skills, written and oral communication skills; ability to make connections across the subfields of psychology; and knowledge of, and experience with, career options related to the study of psychology.
Students will acquire:
The department assesses departmental outcomes every year with the senior exercise which consists of two parts. The first part is the ETS Major Field Test for psychology. We use the total percentile score as one third of a student’s grade for the senior exercise. We look across all of the students’ data to assess their knowledge of four different subfields of psychology. The other part of the senior exercise, worth 2/3rds of the grade, is a research proposal that each student completes. This is graded using a rubric, and we discuss the scores of all of the students at the end of the year in our assessment meeting. For our recent external review we examined the scores on these two parts of the senior exercise in a group of three classes of graduates. Table 1 (see attached document) shows the correlates of performance on the two parts of the senior exercise. Among the graduates we studied there were many significant positive correlates of their grade on the research proposal, including number of psych courses taken, psychology grade point average (especially GPA in the research methods courses), and number of semesters of independent research pursued. There were also significant correlates of performance on the ETS exam and its subscales. The fact that GPA in introductory psychology was consistently associated with scores on all of the ETS subscales suggest that the introductory course is a rigorous and broad presentation of the field, and/or that the ETS measure is fairly limited in the level of learning it assesses. Nevertheless, our students’ high percentile scores on this test show that our curriculum has provided students with a significant amount of content.
The external reviewers gave us some references to examine specific to psychology programs and we have a subgroup of faculty examining these references. We are currently revising our curriculum and along with the curriculum revision we will be developing goals for each course and then we will link assessment with course goals as recommended.