Ian MacFarlane

Project Proposal

The course I am targeting for this project is General Psychology, and there are several goals I want to tackle over the next several offerings. Consistent with research on pedagogy, I have found students master and recall material they are able to interact with via classroom demonstrations, activities, and discussions at a better rate than information which is presented via lecture. For example, when teaching research design, I have students conduct a pre-designed Coke vs. Pepsi taste test experiment and critique the design and students typically do better on exam questions where they critique experimental designs than other methods (e.g., surveys).

My course evaluations frequently request more in-class activities, and while I have ideas and exercises at the ready, I have been reluctant to reduce the course content any further because 101 is a major recruiting source for our 200-level courses focused on specific domains. My proposed solution is to record lectures of ~15-20 minutes for 1-2 topics/week, which would then free up class time for experiential components (i.e., a partially flipped classroom). I already give weekly online quizzes about readings, so I can easily incorporate questions specific to the videos to incentivize students to watch the videos, and/or require them to use the information from the videos to complete in-class exercises (which I already do to some extent). This would allow for greater depth (which students have requested in course evaluations) without sacrificing breadth.

The second area of focus is adapting a current assignment to produce a digital product rather than a paper product. I currently require students to create some sort of outreach material for two different assignments, one for study tips and one for stress management. Though the format is open, most students select paper pamphlets as their medium. Several students have made excellent websites in the past, and I want to push students to create something along those lines in the future. In additional to websites, I would also encourage podcasts and/or videos to allow for creativity and diverse arrays of skill building. This will work toward the digital literacy and transferable skills components of the current strategic plan, while serving my course objective of applying general psychological concepts to specific situations. I want to collaborate with the ASC and/or Counseling Services to make meaningful contributions to the digital resources on campus available to students.

The final area of focus is to improve the existing student blogging experience, specifically to increase the visibility and interactive nature of the blogs. I want to explore collaborating with other psychology courses, (either at AC or other institutions) as well as improving the digital marketing of the blogs (e.g., expanded use of Twitter, developing my own web presence to allow syndication opportunities). This will expand on the strategic plan and course objectives listed above, and the blogs are one of the major ways I work on student writing skills throughout the course via low stakes assignments.


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