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The mission of the Department of Psychological Science is to provide challenging and engaging opportunities for students to acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities of psychology as a scientific discipline in keeping with the American Psychological Association’s 2013 standards of undergraduate education. To that end, the Department of Psychological Science is committed to supporting faculty who deliver high quality teaching, create research opportunities, and foster close student-faculty mentorship.
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Student Learning Outcomes

The department considered and adopted the APA Learning Goals and Outcomes for the Undergraduate Psychology major (Version 2.0). Therefore, our program has the following student learning goals and outcome measures:

Knowledge, Skills, and Values Consistent with the Science and Application of Psychology

Goal 1. Knowledge Base of Psychology: Demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.
Learning Outcomes
1.1 Characterize the nature of psychology as a discipline.
a. Explain why psychology is a science
b. Identify and explain the primary objectives of psychology: describing, understanding, predicting, and influencing behavior and mental processes
c. Compare and contrast the assumptions and methods of psychology with those of other disciplines
d. Describe the interdisciplinary nature of psychology
e. Recognize and respect human diversity and understand that psychological explanations may vary across populations and contexts
1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding representing appropriate breadth and depth in selected content areas of psychology:
a. theory and research representing each of the following four general domains:
(1) Learning and cognition
(2) Individual differences, psychometrics, personality, and social processes
(3) Biological bases of behavior and mental processes
(4) Developmental changes across the life span
b. the history of psychology
c. relevant ethical issues
d. explain major perspectives of psychology (e.g., behavioral, biological, cognitive, evolutionary, humanistic, psychodynamic, and sociocultural)
e. describe major applied areas of psychology (e.g., clinical, counseling, industrial/organizational, school, health)
1.3 Use the concepts, language, and major theories of the discipline to account for psychological phenomena.
1.4 Understand and apply psychological principles.
Goal 2. Research Methods in Psychology: Understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation
Learning Outcomes
2.1 Describe the basic characteristics of the science of psychology.
2.2 Explain different research methods used by psychologists.
a. Describe how various research designs address different types of questions and hypotheses
b. Articulate strengths and limitations of various research designs
c. Distinguish the nature of designs that permit causal inferences from those that do not
2.3 Evaluate the appropriateness of conclusions derived from psychological research
a. Interpret basic statistical results
b. Distinguish between statistical significance and practical significance
c. Describe effect size and confidence intervals
d. Evaluate the validity of conclusions presented in research reports
2.4 Design and conduct basic studies to address psychological questions using appropriate research methods.
a. Locate and use relevant databases, research, and theory to plan, conduct, and interpret results of research studies
b. Formulate testable research hypotheses, based on operational definitions of variables
c. Select and apply appropriate methods to maximize internal and external validity and reduce the plausibility of alternative explanations
d. Collect, analyze, interpret, and report data using appropriate analytical strategies to address different types of research questions and hypotheses
e. Recognize that bias in research may shape research questions, design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation
2.5 Follow professional codes of ethics in the treatment of human and nonhuman participants in the design, data collection, interpretation, and reporting of psychological research.
2.6 Generalize research conclusions appropriately based on the parameters of particular research methods.
Goal 3. Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology: Respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental
processes.
Learning Outcomes
3.1 Use critical thinking effectively.
a. Evaluate the quality of information, including differentiating empirical evidence from speculation and the probable from the improbable
b. Identify and evaluate the source, context, and credibility of information
c. Recognize and defend against common fallacies in thinking
d. Avoid being swayed by appeals to emotion or authority
e. Evaluate popular media reports of psychological research
f. Make linkages or connections between diverse facts, theories, and observations
g. Tolerate ambiguity and realize that psychological explanations are often complex and tentative
3.2 Use reasoning to recognize, develop, defend, and criticize arguments and other persuasive appeals.

Knowledge, Skills, and Values Consistent with Liberal Arts Education that are Further Developed in Psychology

Goal 4. Information and Technological Literacy: Use technological tools that are appropriate to psychology.
Learning Outcome
4.1 Use appropriate software to collect, analyze, report and/or present information.
Goal 5. Communication Skills: Communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
Learning Outcome
5.1 Demonstrate effective writing skills appropriate to the field of psychology
a. Use APA style effectively in empirically-based reports, literature reviews, and theoretical papers
Goal 6. Career Planning and Development: Pursue realistic ideas about how to implement their psychological knowledge, skills, and values in occupational pursuits in a variety of settings. Understand the academic and occupational opportunities in psychology.
Learning Outcomes
6.1 Apply knowledge of psychology to formulate informed occupational choices
6.2 Students will be prepared to pursue graduate study in psychology

Department History

When did the study of Psychological Science begin at Eastern? The answer to that question depends on how you define the beginning.

You could define “the beginning” by when the first psychology course was offered. That was Education 103a, Psychology, first required of all freshmen beginning in Fall 1954. This course became PSY 100 in 1958, which it has remained since.

You could also define the beginning of Psychology at Eastern by when its first faculty member was hired. Leo Schneiderman joined the faculty in the 1956-1957 academic year. Leo was a clinical psychologist by training with a background in psychoanalysis. Prior to teaching, Leo worked as a clinical psychologist at the Galesburg State Research Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois and the VA Hospital in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He also served in the United States Army Air Force in 1945 – 1946. Leo taught numerous courses that represented his devotion to students and their intellectual advancement – developmental courses, several clinical courses, American National Character (which one would assume would be a Cold-War Era pro-America course, but was actually about the typical American personality), and Psychology of Literature, where students psychoanalyzed characters from literary works.

You could also define the beginning of Psychology at Eastern by when students could first declare Psychology as their major. That was in the Fall of 1966. The curriculum then was very different than it is now. Students were required to complete 33 semester hours, or 11 courses in Psychology. These included six required courses beyond Psy. 100:

  • Psy. 200: Psychology of Personality
  • Psy. 202: Social Psychology
  • Psy. 203: Abnormal Psychology
  • Psy. 210: Psychology of Thinking
  • Psy. 306: Culture and Personality
  • Psy. 310: Psychological Tests and Measurements

Four of these courses continue to be taught today, although of course they have changed through the years. The other two courses – Psychology of Thinking and Culture and Personality – were discontinued and they seem to have been partially reborn. Psychology of Thinking seems to be a forerunner of Cognitive Psychology and Culture and Personality has reappeared in our major today as Culture and Psychology (today’s course covers much more than personality)

Want to learn more? Please view the video on the Science of Psychology at Eastern: A Look Back as We Move Forward, a lecture given by Dr. Lyndsey Lanagan-Leitzel on October 30, 2014.

The Science of Psychology at Eastern

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