In a quite popular Ted Talk, Every Kid Needs A Champion, Dr. Rita Pierson says many great things about relationships and education. I have no doubt she was an incredible educator and mentor to students and teachers. You can see it and feel it in the way she delivers her talk; she’s got it. I believe this quote best summarizes her talk:
Unless you’ve been under a rock, avoiding the most infamous jargon of education, you’ve heard the term ‘learning styles’. It has become quite the buzzword in the last decade or so and is almost said with a cringe today. In what can be described as a neuromyth, learning styles have taken a beating by recent research and should be laid to rest with other famous falsehoods of psychology and education. Shockingly enough, though, its proliferation still exists.
With a surge of awareness from many mainstream media outlets and a newfound push to teach the importance of mental health, psychology has never been more popular and readily accessible to the public. Although there has been an increase in awareness, there are still many fields and subjects of psychology that are not as commonly popular or are simply unknown.
When I was earning my bachelor’s degree in psychology, classmates, professors, family members and guidance counselors would tell me that I needed a graduate degree if I wanted to get a job using my degree. At first, I believed them and planned for graduate school at some point in the future. But, before going to graduate school, I worked for four years in academic research. Below, I’ll describe some different research careers that someone with a bachelor’s degree in psychology could pursue and, most importantly given the difficulty some college graduates encounter finding jobs, what you need to do to prepare for each career.
Too often teachers confuse compliance with accountability. Simply following directions and formulaically obeying the plan of the lesson is not accountability. In fact, punishing students with zeros, sending the student to the dean and other such tactics when they fall short of following the procedure of learning only results in reduced motivation and performance.
As social media drives information dissemination based on popularity rather than accuracy, “fake news” is seemingly everywhere. Political fake stories get more press, but science fake stories are also proliferating. Not all scientific misinformation is fake, strictly defined (Oremus, 2016). Much of it is simply misleading, sometimes even unintentionally. But regardless of the label, all variants of inaccurate information can be damaging to scientific literacy; it is incumbent on us to teach students to cull through scientific information in popular sources.
Every semester, psychology students around the country anxiously file into their required, introductory statistics classes. Although some love it, statistics tends to be difficult and anxiety-producing for psychology students (who sometimes refer to it as Sadistics 101). To combat this, publishers have released a flurry of student-friendly textbooks designed to make statistics more palatable. However, students often face challenges learning statistics, and, frankly, don’t generally like it.
As commencement approaches, our baccalaureate psychology graduates will likely hear the familiar admonition “But you can’t get a decent job with a bachelor’s degree in psychology!” There is some truth to that warning (Carnevale, et al., 2015; Rajecki & Borden, 2011) and to employers’ complaints that graduates are unprepared for work. However, if we vigorously shared other data with our students we could instill optimism in the 55% of those graduates who enter the job market.
How can teachers and advisors help?