Skill Development in Introductory Psychology

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The introductory psychology course is simultaneously our discipline’s most powerful outlet and a difficult course to teach effectively. A particular challenge of this immensely popular course is that it must serve the foundational needs of psychology majors as well as the general education needs of students taking it as an elective. In this article we integrate recent efforts to identify a new model for introductory psychology (Gurung et al., in press) with recent recommendations for a greater emphasis on skill development (Strohmetz et al., 2015). In doing so, we argue for the adoption of an approach to teaching introductory psychology that emphasizes skill development at least as much as course content, and that utilizes the principles of backward course design to identify the enduring understandings that students ought to take away from this course (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006). We integrate psychology-specific outcomes with liberal education outcomes to identify 2 specific skills that we argue should be of universal focus in introductory psychology. Finally, we close with 5 recommendations to facilitate this shift to a more explicit skills focus.

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