APS Grant Supports International Conference on Psychology Education

Contributions from Shirley Zhang, Fiona White, Judi Homewood, Jo Milne-Home, Nida Denson,Victor Karandeshev, Sherri McCarthy, Annie Trapp, Steve Provost, Frances Martin, Lucy Zinkiewicz, and Jo Earl

Psychological literacy was among the hot topics at the Fourth International Conference on Psychology Education (ICOPE).

One hundred twenty attendees from 17 countries, including Taiwan, Chile, and Columbia, met in Sydney, Australia to share information and research on psychology education. The event was supported with a grant from the APS Fund for the Teaching and Public Understanding of Psychological Science, the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, and the Australian Psychological Society. ICOPE facilitates communication among teachers of psychology and allows attendees to share ideas and resources. The conference is designed for teachers of psychology in all educational settings, including high schools, undergraduate colleges, universities, and graduate programs.

The goals of the conference include:

  • Share the world’s best practices in psychology education
  • Share information on developments in education and training in psychology globally
  • Promote research on the application of psychological principles to enhance student learning in the university setting
  • Raise awareness of indigenous and cultural issues in psychology education
  • Strengthen networks of psychology educators
  • Foster professional development in the teaching in psychology
  • Raise awareness of the concepts of psychological literacy and the psychologically literate global citizen — key concepts for the global future.

Following is an overview of the presentations.  For additional information, see http://icope2010.psy.unsw.edu.au.

In her keynote address, Diane Halpern, Claremont McKenna College, USA, discussed the importance of helping students think scientifically about behavioral claims and to apply psychological principles in helping to solve real-world problems such as obesity and terrorism.

Psychological literacy and the conference theme, “Global psychology education: Promise for the future,” were highlighted in presentations by Shirley Morrissey, (Griffith University, Australia), Niki Harre (University of Auckland, New Zealand), Nida Denson (University of Western Sydney, Australia), and Fiona White,University of Sydney, Australia).

Several presentations provided reports on psychology education in various countries. Victor Karandashev (Leningrad State University, Russia), co-creator of the conference series along with Sherri McCarthy (Northern Arizona University, Yuma, USA), presented a keynote address on “International Psychology Education: Retrospective and Promise for the Future.” Sarlito Sarwono (Persada Indonesia University, Indonesia), founder of the Asian Psychological Association, gave an overview of psychology education, and psychology in the public interest, in Indonesia. Lyn Littlefield (Australian Psychological Society) gave an update on the changing landscape of psychology education and training in Australia. Annie Trapp, Director of the UK Higher Education Academy Psychology Network, considered the purpose of the undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom. She reflected on the pressures and opportunities to adapt so that future psychology graduates are able to make maximum use of their knowledge, skills and abilities. These keynote addresses were complemented by several internationally oriented symposia, where Remo Job (University of Trento, Italy), Suzanne Guerin (University College Dublin, Ireland), Steve Provost (Psychology Discipline, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, Australia), Nicholas Skinner (King’s University College, London, Ontario, Canada), Saths Cooper (Psychological Society of South Africa, South Africa) and Sherri McCarthy gave overviews of current issues and resources, and Merry Bullock (American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, USA), gave an impromptu presentation on internationalization.

Julie Hansen (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia), and Rob Ranzijn, University of South Australia, Adelaide) led a symposium that considered what graduates can do with a three-year degree in psychology.  Suzy Green, , University of Sydney, Australia, organized a symposium on the integration of positive psychology and higher education.

Presentation formats were diverse and provided many opportunities for informal exchange, networking, and professional development. The symposia, papers, posters, and roundtable discussions covered a broad range of issues facing psychology teachers, including graduate professional training, action teaching, Web 2.0 technologies, quality standards and learning outcomes, student characteristics and academic success, teaching research methods, interteaching, team-teaching, problem-based learning, writing and plagiarism, secondary/tertiary psychology transition, undergraduate research, and large first-year classes. During the conference, an Australian Community of Practice for First-Year Psychology Educators was formed, convened by Lorelle Burton (University of Southern Queensland, Australia).

As part of the conference, a full day of activities on indigenous issues in psychology education was led by Pat Dudgeon, Chair of the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association. This event reignited national interest in this issue and highlighted the need for support of indigenous psychology students, cultural competency training for psychology educators, and resources for teaching about indigenous issues in psychology.

Conference materials are available online at http://icope2010.psy.unsw.edu.au. (Materials from previous conferences are available at http://icope2002.org/, and www.ictp-2008.spb.ru/presentations.) These sites are linked to the resource-rich website of the umbrella organization, the International Teaching of Psychology Network (InterTOP: http://interteachpsy.org), making it possible for many more teachers of psychology, scholars, and administrators from around the world to benefit from these conferences. The third volume of the book Teaching Psychology Around the World is now in publication and based on the materials from the conference.

The 5th ICOPE is planned to be held in Capetown, South Africa, beginning July 22, 2012. œ

Observer Vol.24, No.4 April, 2011

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