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Bachelor's Degrees in Psych Are Valuable: An Activity

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R. Eric Landrum (Boise State University) tells the story of a student who earned a BA and went out into the workforce. One day she ran into him and apologized for not using her psych degree. He asked what field she was working in. She replied, “I run my own business.” Landrum notes that we need to do a better job helping our psych majors understand that the skills and knowledge that they gain through the major will help them in a large number of career fields. Dialing it back to Intro Psych, we can help everyone who takes the Intro course see the value of psychology.

Near the end of the Intro Psych course, show students these data from the June 2016 APA Monitor.

piechart.jpg

People with a bachelor’s in psychology work primarily in sales, other work activities (i.e. “design, development, computer applications, production, quality management and work activities not otherwise specified”), professional services (e.g., “health care, counseling, financial services, or legal services”), and management/supervision. Other areas include teaching (11%), accounting/finance/contracts (9%), employee relations (5%), and research (3%).

For an in-class or online discussion board activity, divide students into eight groups and assign each group one job category from the chart. (For larger classes, to keep group-size small, use more groups.)

Ask students these questions:

  1. Identify at least one concept from each chapter we covered in this course that would be useful in this job field.
  2. For each concept chosen, briefly explain why it would be useful for those in that job field to know it.

Students can write responses individually or as a group or each group could verbally report out.

If time permits, you can opt to use a jigsaw classroom. If you have a class of 64 or more, create 8 groups of at least 8 students each. (Have less than 64 in a class? Use fewer groups and fewer students per group and assign each group two or more job categories.) Each group answers the questions above.

8groups.jpg

Following discussion, each group member is assigned to a new group so that each new group now has at least one person who had discussed each job category. Within the new groups, group members share the concepts their former groups had identified. Ask students to look for commonalities and differences.

jigsaw.jpg

Following discussion of these new groups, ask students to report out what they learned. For example, did the same concepts appear regardless of job category? Or were there some concepts that seem to be unique to a particular job category.

Conclusion

This is a nice integration activity that fits with the pillar model for Intro Psych (Gurung, et.al., 2016) and Goal 5: Professional Development from Guidelines 2.0

Gurung, R. A., Hackathorn, J., Enns, C., Frantz, S., Cacioppo, J. T., Loop, T., & Freeman, J. E. (2016). Strengthening introductory psychology: A new model for teaching the introductory course. American Psychologist, 71(2), 112-124.

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About the Author
At Highline College near Seattle, Sue Frantz is working on her third decade in the psychology college classroom. Throughout her career, she has been an early adopter of new technologies in which she saw pedagogical potential. In 2009, she founded her blog, Technology for Academics. The blog features both new tech tools and tips for using not-so-new tools effectively. She currently serves as Vice President for Resources for APA Division 2: Society for the Teaching of Psychology. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. In 2016, she received the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. As the newest contributor to the Instructor Resource Manual for the David Myers and Nathan DeWall Introduction to Psychology textbooks, she is excited to bring teaching resources to you in this venue.