Toward a Model for Teaching and Learning Qualitative Inquiry Within a Core Content Undergraduate Psychology Course: Personality Psychology as a Natural Opportunity

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Abstract

Developing critical thinking skills has emerged as an explicit higher education and workforce priority. Not surprisingly, higher education generally and psychology in particular, grapple with best practices for teaching critical thinking. Should critical thinking be focused as a stand-alone course or integrated throughout the general education and major curricula? Learning narrative personality psychology promotes forms of critical thinking inherent in common practices in qualitative inquiry. A basic premise is that carefully designed reciprocity between pedagogy and content will also produce enhanced critical thinking. Thus, qualitative inquiry in psychology offers student outcomes representative of a high-quality undergraduate education. The purpose of this article is to describe a culturally responsive course design model developed for teaching and learning qualitative inquiry within an undergraduate core content psychology course. The course design model combines and applies active learning and critical thinking to teach personality psychology in an interactive lecture and final project learning lab course structure. The intention is to provide an immersion narrative personality psychology research experience, while also engaging students’ learning about the full spectrum of the field of personality psychology. I will argue that personality psychology provides a natural opportunity to introduce students to one form of qualitative inquiry in psychology. Leading with a narrative personality theoretical focus allows students to see the use of qualitative inquiry as an organic research progression of observation of the human lived experience, theory, research questions, methodology, methods, and writing. The narrative tradition within personality psychology focuses on autobiographical memories, life story, psychobiography, and cases.

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