HIGH POINT, N.C., Jan. 29, 2016 – Dr. Sadie Leder-Elder, assistant professor of psychology at High Point University, recently presented at the National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology (NITOP) conference Jan. 3 – 8 in St. Pete Beach, Florida.
Her poster titled, “Teaching Psychology through Social Action: Even a Done-in-a-Day Activity Can Make a Difference,” shows that participation in an in-class Helping Behavior Activity in her Introduction to Psychology course significantly enhanced students’ overall ethical awareness and participation in volunteer activities.
“This Helping Behavior Activity is a project that I have included in my Introduction to Psychology course for the past six years,” says Elder. “I am delighted that the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) data that I have collected demonstrates that this activity is an effective pedagogical tool.”
With 1.7 million students taking Introduction to Psychology every year, there are 1.7 million reasons to enhance the ways the course is taught, and Elder is one of the professors paving the way. Results show that students’ participation in a Helping Behavior Activity led to increased perceptions of the utility of this course to their life outside of the classroom. Further, students were more likely to believe that Introduction to Psychology would contribute to their overall development when it included this experiential learning component.
“The beauty of this project is its simplicity,” says Elder. “Unlike extensive service learning courses, this research shows that some of the same benefits can be achieved in a done-in-a-day activity.”
Although preliminary, this work helps to expand the collective knowledge on how psychology instructors can encourage and instill a sense of civic engagement and greater ethical awareness in their students.