Study-Away in Psychology

Study-Away in your Own Program: In another blog post, please discuss the following: What is a need in your program or curriculum that you might address by a study-away experience?  Please put in a featured image (your own or creative commons).

A few years ago the Psychology Department re-designed the undergraduate curriculum to include more experiential learning opportunities. In the new curriculum students have to check a “Doing Psychology” box by taking at least one lab course linked to a content course and by participating in one other type of experiential learning that could include a research assistantship, an internship, and/or a service-learning course. I was very pleased with these changes in the curriculum, but I would like to see us push this approach even further. We only have one international experience (a semester-long program at Keele University in the U.K.) that happens every two years. Our graduate students “do” psychology by engaging in research, clinical internship, school psychology field experiences, and other types of professional internships, but it would be interesting to think about how to develop other types of experiences to enrich their professional development.

I’m sold on the concept of domestic study aways because of the potential for powerful learning that goes beyond the classroom experience and it accessible to more students than international programs. In the classroom I try to steer away from the “sage-on-the-stage” approach to teaching by incorporating lots of discussion, small-group problem solving, mixed media experiences, and service-learning projects. Despite this, I still yearn for authentic learning experiences for my students that will make the material more meaningful for them. I’ve long had the desire simply to take our students on local field trips, but even that is logistically challenging, and I have not done it very often. It’s not part of the culture of my department like it is in, say, Geography, where I see my friends in that department not think twice about reserving a van and piling in a bunch of students. I’ve had no models for pulling off a study away, and until now, I have not made the initiative to learn more about how to do this type of teaching. I’m thrilled to be part of this program!





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