Giving Psychology Away

Erica Kleinknecht, PhD

Seminar courses are often thought of as opportunities to build knowledge, that is, to dig-in to primary source literature in a given area of inquiry, and to just, well, discuss. While such a model works well at the graduate level, it doesn’t always make sense for undergraduate courses where students are still considering their professional options. An easy way to make seminar courses meaningful though is to inspire students to project themselves into a possible career path (day dreams are free, after all), and to write to that career. That framework is what this work represents. Over the span of our summer seminar, students did indeed read and discuss primary source literature, and thus deepened their knowledge of educational psychology.  Perhaps more importantly though, they chose and wrote to a professional context of their choosing. These students may, or may not end up in the career they imagined as they wrote their chapters, however all of these students left the class with a richer awareness of why research in Psychology matters. They understand now, at a deeper level than they would have had they just read and responded to essay-test prompts, the work and it’s value. What better way to spend 4 weeks, during the summer of covid-19 quarantine (i.e., July – August, 2020), than imagining how to use their growing psychological knowledge for good?