Psychology Results/ Action Plan
Program Goal I: Create knowledge about
Procedures: Encourage participation in
Independent Study and Research and Honors; make ourselves available to
supervise these student projects.
Assessment: Record student participation
Results: Below are students enrolled in
PS491 (Independent Study in Psychology) and PS494 (Independent
Research in Psychology) since 2000.
Some of these lead to Psychology Honors. In the
2000-2001 and 2001-2002 academic years we had one Honors student each.
In 2002 - 2003 we had two Honors students.
Action: Continue the efforts that produced
Program Goal II: Share knowledge about
Assessment: Administer ETS’ Major Field
Test in Psychology, Spring 2003. We administered the test to 34
Psychology majors who had completed Introduction to Psychology (PS201)
and our Introduction to the major course (PS220). We also administered
the test to 11 of our seniors. Normative data for the tests are
provided only for seniors, though we thought a comparison of seniors
with freshmen/sophomores would be helpful as well.
Results: ETS’ Major Field Test (MFT) in
Psychology provides students with an overall score as well as
- Learning and Cognition
- Clinical, Abnormal & Personality
- Developmental and Social
freshmen/sophomores had group sub-scores in the 2nd to 3rd
percentiles (compared to graduating seniors nationwide). These
percentiles are difficult to interpret because ETS does not provide
normative data for freshman/sophomores. Our 11 seniors, in contrast,
had group scores that ranged between the 12th percentile
for Developmental/Social and the 40th percentile for
Learning and Cognition. At the individual student level, our top three
seniors (on the MFT) had all participated in Psychology Honors and/or
Independent research (54th, 65th and 72nd
percentile). We were pleased our Honors and Independent Research
options helped our better students excel both locally and against the
More refined analyses
of student scores vis-à-vis specific Psychology courses taken are
waiting administrative approval to access student records.
The MFT also provides assessment indicators, not
for individual students, but for our program in general. These
indicators point to areas we appear to be strong or weak in. The
indicators are in:
- Memory and Thinking
- Sensory and Physiology
- Clinical and Abnormal
- Measurement and Methodology
As a whole we were strongest in Sensory and
Physiology, and Clinical & Abnormal, followed by Memory and Thinking.
We were lowest in Measurement and Methodology, followed by Social and
- Action #1: Obviously, these are complex
patterns of results, confounded by the fact that the
“non-experimental” data can never pinpoint causal connections. We
were low in the Perception/Sensation/Physiological/Comparative/Ethology
sub-area, but higher in the Sensory and Physiology assessment
indicator, which lead us to conclude we need more emphasis in
Comparative and Ethology, areas housed traditionally in either
Psychology or Biology departments. To address this need we have
begun work on a joint minor with Biology in these areas.
Negotiations are under way.
- Action #2: Our top three seniors on the
MFT also participated in Independent Research and/or Honors. For
years the department has stressed the importance of Research, and
several years ago we instituted our Honors program to push our
better students to even higher levels. We were pleased to see the
link between these research activities and the MFT results
confirmed. While no separate action by the department was needed
(the Honors program is already in place), “action” #2 can be
interpreted as a reaffirmation of our commitment to providing these
experiences for our students.
- Action/Issue #3: Our students find
measurement and methodology (the Quantitative, scientific side of
Psychology) a challenge, but we already knew that. The psychology
department requires 8 credits of research methods for all majors,
and 3 credits in measurement for Mental Health majors. This is a
vigorous quantitative core compared to other Psychology departments.
But our students struggle with this area before they arrive as seen
in a careful examination of the freshmen/sophomore MFT scores. This
was their lowest area before they enroll in our upper division
courses. So, how to attract students with stronger scientific
aptitudes? We hope Action #1 (joint program with Biology) will
attract more majors who correctly view us as a science. This in turn
may dispel a popular misconception that Psychology is nothing but
mental health. We also are considering a name change to further the
same end. Many Psychology departments have already switched to
“Psychological Science” or “Behavioral and Brain Sciences”. We have
discussed but not reached consensus on a possible name change.
Program Goal III: Encourage graduates to
choose careers or graduate school in Psychology.
Assessment: We plan to survey graduates
every three years.
Action: Pending results.
Post script: The Psychology department
tracks enrollments in courses. These are enrollments in PS201 (Intro)
since 2000. The Fall-to-Spring swings are seasonal and have been in
effect for at least a decade. Also note the minimal difference between
seats offered and seats filled.