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?
Psychology teachers can serve an important role as mentors to their students in ways that can help students make a successful transition to college. By sharing information about the differences between the high school and college experiences, teachers can help students understand they will be adjusting to many changes, particularly in terms of expectations.
In addition to thoughtfully delineating learning outcomes in individual courses, psychology teachers should consider what their ultimate goals are for students at the conclusion of formal education. The “psychologically literate citizen” metaphor has been proposed to describe the ideal graduate educated in psychology: “Psychologically literate citizenship describes a way of being, a type of problem solving, and a sustained ethical and socially responsive stance towards others” (Halpern, 2010, p. 21).
Webster’s Dictionary defines civility as “polite, reasonable and respectful behavior.” However, growing consideration has produced a more nuanced, sophisticated and helpful definition. This expanded definition highlights that civility entails honoring one’s personal values, while simultaneously listening to disparate points of views. Civility transcends politeness and encompasses pursuing shared ideas to reach common ground. Prioritizing civility facilitates effective communication, high-functioning teams, inclusive and productive communities and civic engagement.
Author: Claude M. Steele, PhD
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.
Copyright year: 2011
Since “Whistling Vivaldi” was first published in 2010, it’s likely you’ve read it or at least browsed through it at a bookstore. If not, it’s worth a read, both for its important content on the impact of stigma on the stigmatized and its accessible description of a two-decade research process. I’ve been aware of and have taught about the phenomenon of stereotype threat for some time, but I learned a lot about the pervasiveness of the phenomenon and also about the author, one of my favorite social psychologists, by reading this book.
To respond to recommendations related to the report “Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture,” APA’s Board of Directors developed a list of recommended actions. Among other actions, the board recommended the Education Directorate “promote a focus on human rights and ethics as a core element of psychology education and training from high school through continuing education offerings.” The following article by Jovan Hernandez, PhD, is the third of a series of articles related to human rights and ethics.