Psychology in Your Life (Second Edition)
Everyone who has taught introductory psychology remembers their “first time.” Most instructors have a humorous story about being handed the textbook just a few days before class began and being pointed in the direction of the classroom. We, the authors of Psychology in Your Life, certainly remember our first experiences. One of us was in a hot and windowless attic teaching discussion sections at Carnegie Mellon University. Another one of us was trying to overcome the imposter syndrome, teaching at Harvard in a building named after William James. And yet another one of us was trying to hold the attention of 800 students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, right before the 1967 Summer of Love. Whether we started teaching as undergraduate students, doctoral students, or faculty, all of us were immediately hooked on the experience. We are passionate about the field and about exposing students to the science of psychology as well as helping them learn just how relevant psychology is to their everyday lives.
Over the years, as we have gained experience as teachers, researchers, and authors, we have come to realize a key truth about inspiring students to learn. This truth is that learning is not a unitary process, nor is it an activity conducted alone by students. Instead, learning results from three interconnected factors: teachers teaching, students learning, and continuous efforts to improve the skills of both teachers and students.
We created Psychology in Your Life because we wanted a textbook and integrated support materials that supported excellence in all three of these aspects of education. Even more importantly, we wanted to develop tools that would really work. Accordingly, we designed the book and support materials based on the latest psychological research about the pedagogical practices that facilitate teaching, learning, and making improvements.
Great Teaching Improves Learning
Providing support to both teachers and students is more important than ever because both teachers and students are experiencing a “perfect storm” of challenges. Teachers must teach more students in a wider variety of course formats, support learning in many different students, and figure out how to assess student learning. Often, we must achieve these goals with fewer resources, less support, and little training. While students can sometimes learn without teachers, great teaching improves student learning. All teachers, from the most experienced to the novice, can use a helping hand to support their students’ learning. Psychology in Your Life supports teachers in two main ways. First, Teachers Have Easy access to Materials that Are Aligned with the Learning Goals They Have Chosen for Their Students Teachers’ goals for their students differ, based on the school, the students, and the teachers’ philosophies about teaching and learning (Kang, 2008). For example, individual teachers choose which content goals to focus on and which student skills to help develop, including cognitive skills such as application, writing, critical thinking, or scientific thinking (American Psychological Association, 2013; Anderson, 2002; Dunn, Halonen, & Smith, 2009). When using the Psychology in Your Life support package, teachers can focus on the learning goals and skills that are most relevant for their students. They can then use the corresponding pedagogical resources. Our rich bank of tools draws on our combined 75 years of teaching introductory psychology, and we know these tools work because we have overseen their development. The resources we offer—Active Learning PowerPoint lecture slides, Demonstration Videos for Students, in-class activities, clicker questions, discussion topics, video clip suggestions, and more—are tagged in the online repository by chapter, section, and learning goal, so teachers can easily search for resources related to specific learning goals and skill development. What’s more, these resources have been designed to be used flexibly in either face-to-face or online learning environments. Second, Teachers Receive Support at All Levels of Experience We remember the dread we felt when we began to teach with few or no support materials. In response, we created Teaching Videos. Filmed in Sarah Grison’s home office, these clips offer brief observations to less experienced teachers about the concepts that students tend to find challenging. In presenting strategies for overcoming these challenges (Buskist & Groccia, 2012), our videos refer to specific pedagogical supports in the textbook as well as to resources in the instructor support materials. Meanwhile, even as experienced teachers, we still find ourselves hunting for new ways to engagingly demonstrate concepts. To address this need, we created Demonstration Videos for Teachers. These clips provide step-by-step instructions for doing in-class demonstrations of 30 important concepts found in the textbook. Printed summaries describe the materials, including handouts, needed to perform the demonstrations.
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