Research suggests that General Psychology often does not adequately prepare students for the next step in their education or provide a thorough, scientific understanding of psychology (Gurung & Hackathorn, 2018). This can be manifested as beliefs in common misconceptions surrounding psychology and an inability to distinguish valid research findings from claims based on flawed research. General Psychology is a popular class and is usually taught in large lecture halls which makes it more challenging to implement active learning practices such as laboratory experiences. The current study aimed to enhance General Psychology students’ scientific competency. Students from two sections of General Psychology were recruited (N = 117). Students in the experimental class completed writing assignments focused on methodology and analysis of psychological research that were designed to deepen their understanding of psychology and improve critical thinking skills, whereas the control class’s assignments focused on topical content. Scientific competency was assessed as students’ beliefs in psychological myths and critical thinking skills. Students in the experimental class outperformed the control class on both assessments (myth assessment: p = .015, d = .42; critical thinking assessment: p = .037, d = .60). The findings of this research suggest that more methodological knowledge of psychology strengthens critical thinking skills, which may lead to favorable academic outcomes.
A Plan B Research Project Submitted to the Faculty of the University of Minnesota by Colleen Denise Switt in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, February 2021. This item has been modified from the original to redact the signatures present.
Strengthening Psychological Knowledge and Critical Thinking Skills in General Psychology.
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