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Approach and Pedagogy

11 September, 2015 - 10:33

I wrote this book to help students organize their thinking about psychology at a conceptual level. Five or ten years from now, I do not expect my students to remember the details of most of what I teach them. However, I do hope that they will remember that psychology matters because it helps us understand behavior and that our knowledge of psychology is based on empirical study.

This book is designed to facilitate these learning outcomes. I have used three techniques to help focus students on behavior:

  1. Chapter openers. I begin my focus on behavior by opening each chapter with a chapter opener showcasing an interesting real-world example of people who are dealing with behavioral questions and who can use psychology to help them answer those questions. The opener is designed to draw the student into the chapter and create an interest in learning about the topic.
  2. Psychology in everyday life. Each chapter contains one or two features designed to link the principles from the chapter to real-world applications in business, environment, health, law, learning, and other relevant domains. For instance, the application in Chapter 6 "Growing and Developing"—“What Makes a Good Parent?”—applies the concepts of parenting styles in a mini handbook about parenting, and the application in Chapter 3 "Brains, Bodies, and Behavior" is about the difficulties that left-handed people face performing everyday tasks in a right-handed world.
  3. Research focus. I have also emphasized empiricism throughout, but without making it a distraction from the main story line. Each chapter presents two close-ups on research— well-articulated and specific examples of research within the content area, each including a summary of the hypotheses, methods, results, and interpretations. This feature provides a continuous thread that reminds students of the importance of empirical research. The research foci also emphasize the fact that findings are not always predictable ahead of time (dispelling the myth of hindsight bias) and help students understand how research really works.

My focus on behavior and empiricism has produced a text that is better organized, has fewer chapters, and is somewhat shorter than many of the leading books.

In short, I think that this book will provide a useful and productive synthesis between your goals and the goals of your students. I have tried to focus on the forest rather than the trees and to bring psychology to life—in ways that really matter—for the students. At the same time, the book maintains content and conceptual rigor, with a strong focus on the fundamental principles of empiricism and the scientific method.