Psychology Department Learning Goals
(adapted from the American Psychological Association's Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major, 2007)
Middlebury students who graduate with a Psychology major will develop knowledge, skills, and values consistent with the science and application of psychology. Specifically, they will be able to:
Demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.
The major is designed to expose students to the breadth of the discipline in Introductory Psychology and the 200-level core courses. Majors are required to complete three area core courses, at least one in each of the two main areas of the curriculum: Area 1 Biopsychology, Cognitive, and Physiological Psychology; Area 2 Clinical, Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology. In each content area the major concepts and theoretical perspectives are examined in greater depth. Upper-level (300-level and advanced seminar) courses require majors to not only further develop their understanding of the specific areas but also to integrate theories and empirical findings across content areas.
Understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation.
Majors are required to take Psychological Statistics and Research Methods, preferably early in their Psychology coursework to provide this foundation. These courses are designed to place majors in the role of researcher as well as consumers of information. Through these classes our majors develop an understanding of the progression from development of a hypothesis and study design to assess questions of interest, determining the appropriate analyses to test a stated hypotheses, as well as understanding how to interpret statistical analyses.
Respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and, when possible, the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.
Students are exposed to critical thinking and the scientific approach to psychological questions as defining modes of inquiry for psychologists in Introductory Psychology, and these skills are practiced and refined throughout the major.
Understand and apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues.
Courses from the 200-level and beyond emphasize the application of psychology to explain personal, social, and organizational issues and inform public policy.
Value empirical evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are the underpinnings of psychology as a science.
The values of psychology are presented throughout the major, with the expectation that students will show increasing ability to demonstrate their acceptance of these values as they move from Statistics and Research Methods into the upper-level courses.
Students who take Psychology courses at Middlebury (majors and non-majors) will also develop knowledge, skills, and values that are consistent with a liberal arts education. Specifically, they will be able to:
Demonstrate information competence and the ability to use computers and other technology for many purposes.
Students learn to use technology for the analysis and presentation of data in both Psychological Statistics and Research Methods, and use these skills in a variety of upper-level courses throughout the major.
Demonstrate effective writing and oral communication skills, exhibit quantitative literacy, and collaborate effectively with others.
These skills are emphasized throughout the major, with a particular emphasis on quantitative literacy in Psychological Statistics, and an emphasis on writing in Research Methods, a course which also meets the College Writing requirement. Many upper-level courses also require students to make oral presentations, either alone or in groups.
Recognize, understand, and respect the complexity of sociocultural and international diversity.
Many courses in the Psychology curriculum emphasize the relevance of a sociocultural analysis for a thorough understanding of the human experience, including the core courses in Child Development and Social Psychology.
The Psychology Department also recognizes the value of psychology for helping students to develop insight into their own and others' behavior and mental process and for using those insights to apply effective strategies for self-management and self-improvement. We also seek to help educate students about how their psychological knowledge, skills, and values can be applied to occupational pursuits in a variety of settings.