Psychology Department Mission Statement
The Psychology Department at Muhlenberg College challenges students to be independent, critical thinkers well-versed in scientific reasoning and psychological research. We intentionally create and sustain reciprocal relationships with people, organizations, and communities with the goal of developing a more socially just world. Moreover, the Psychology Department acknowledges the current and historic impact of social inequities, particularly in academic settings: we accordingly strive to create inclusive, equitable learning environments wherein individuals from all backgrounds may thrive. We cultivate an appreciation for a liberal arts education, including psychology’s contributions to other disciplines and the contributions of those disciplines to psychology. Graduating students will become lifelong learners willing to interrogate their own biases, apply scientific knowledge, and successfully achieve careers in a 21st century economy.
Goals for the Psychology Curriculum
Our engaged faculty members seek to prepare students for meaningful careers and to foster excitement for life-long learning. Our curricular goals are grounded in best practices articulated by the American Psychological Association. We expect psychology students to:
- Build a strong knowledge base in psychology through learning core scientific models, findings, and theories.
- Develop strong scientific and critical thinking skills through the use of diverse methods of inquiry.
- Understand the role of cultural and individual differences and commonalities in order to meet their ethical and social responsibilities in a diverse world.
- Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills including writing, speaking, and listening.
- Optimize their professional development by responsibly balancing independence and teamwork.
Skill Objectives for the Psychology Curriculum
Below are specific ways courses in the curriculum can help students move toward the above Goals.
- Critical thinking skills - including but not limited to the ability to:
- read texts closely, appropriately interpreting texts
- critique the validity of arguments or conclusions, including one's own
- critique the methodological and ethical components of research
- detect and evaluate underlying assumptions or biases
- identify emotional-reasoning and, when appropriate, set one's emotions aside
- avoid oversimplification of topics
- tolerate uncertainty
- make an argument supported by available evidence and reason
- theorize - generate and articulate views about the relationships among a set of concepts that are appropriately novel, creative, logically consistent, faithful to the data, hypothesis-generating, or some combination of the above
- Communication skills - in both written and oral communication, important skills include, but are not limited to:
- using sources properly (e.g., avoiding inappropriate paraphrasing)
- mastering APA (American Psychological Association) writing style
- producing clear, grammatically correct, and articulate work
- learning the appropriate use of visual aids
- behaving professionally in communication and self-presentation (e.g., choosing appropriate attire, formality of language
- Interpersonal skills - including but not limited to the ability to:
- listen to others
- provide constructive criticism, and make use of such feedback when offered
- engage in respectful and civil dialogue, even when in disagreement
- seek out and seek to understand unfamiliar perspectives and/or views that differ from one's own
- role-play the perspective of others, thus potentially fostering empathy
- affirm the value of differences (when able to do so with integrity)
- Research Skills
- ability to review, analyze, and synthesize an existing body of research
- ability to design and implement ethical empirical research using appropriate method.
- data analysis skills (quantitative and qualitative), including but not limited to:
- mastery of basic SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) skills
- ability to choose and conduct appropriate descriptive & inferential statistical tests
- ability to reason statistically/quantitatively (e.g., awareness of base rates)
- ability to locate appropriate sources from the library and/or electronic resources
- ability to distinguish scholarly from non-scholarly sources & primary from secondary
Adopted April, 2003; Modified May, 2011