Psychology synopsis

The Psychology team began MELO3 with a good collection of learning objects (LOs) for the basic “Introduction to Psychology” course.  Our overall goal for this year is to encourage the use of this collection in Intro Psych by (1) preparing assignments around some of the best LOs and (2) evaluating experimentally the impact of LOs on student learning.


The first year psychology group consisted of Kira Gallagher and Jay Holden, working under the supervision of Brian Malley.  During Spring and Summer 2008, Kira and Jay participated in the first year training program along with graduate students from Chemistry and Statistics.  By the Fall 2008, Kira and Jay had each formed LO collections for Intro Psych and rolled them out as resources available on course CTools sites.  Kira focused on collecting case studies in particular, because in a survey she and Jay conducted in Psychology, case studies were the most requested sort of resource.  Jay designed an LO that would enable psychology instructors to assign specific clips illustrating psychological phenomena from movies and television, paired with questions to direct students’ analysis.  He worked to bring this to fruition throughout 2009.

When Kira left at the beginning of 2009, Adena Rottenstein joined the group.  Adena trained largely independently, and began to actively contribute LO collections and designs during  Summer 2009.  Adena collaborated with Jay to produce an LO introducing Intro Psych students to effective searching in the PsycINFO database, and together they began to research and write a paper describing the overall MELO group’s production of a cross-disciplinary collection of LOs.

During the Summer of 2009, Alicia Hofelich also joined the group and began her training.  She developed her collection for Social Psychology during the Fall 2009 semester, and developed several LOs for a research methods class during the Winter 2010 term.

Brian’s principle contributions during this time were workshops on LO design and the coding of Dave Childer’s statistics LO, Name That Scenario.

Thus, by the end of the initial MELO grant, the Psychology team had developed LO collections for three courses and contributed to the development of three new LOs, and had begun drafting a paper describing the formation and potential use of the cross-disciplinary collection.  However, no psychology class had actually incorporated LOs into its regular curriculum.

MELO3 progress to date

The Psychology team for MELO3 consists of Adena Rottenstein, Emily Bonem, and Brian Malley.  Adena brings to the group her background in MELO1 and MELO2, and hopes to finish some of the work initiated there.  Emily brings to the team considerable experience teaching and special expertise in experimental research.  Brian has a nice office.

The MELO3 grant proposed that we find ways to evaluate the impact of LOs on student learning.  The Psychology team plans to do this first in the large “Introduction to Psychology” class, because (1) we already have collections of learning objects relevant to this class, (2) this class has the largest number of students of any Psychology class, and (3) Brian regularly teaches this class (and is joined by Adena in the Fall).

At our first meeting, on May 24, we discussed the overall goal of the MELO3 grant and some other projects that we would like to attempt along the way.  For our next meeting, Emily and Adena were asked to select a handful of good LOs around which we could develop assignments, and the effect of which we could eventually evaluate.  For Emily, this involved searching the web and forming a new collection.  For Adena, this meant revisiting and updating her earlier work.

Emily and Adena presented their select LOs at a meeting on June 3.  At that meeting, they also each selected two for which they would draft assignments.  They will be presenting their assignments at a team meeting on June 28.

After our June 28 meeting, Brian will adapt and test the assignments in his Summer half-term “Intro Psych” class.  Adena and Emily will shift their attention to designing the experimental evaluation of the LOs’ impact on student learning.  They will (1) design the experiment, and (2) prepare and submit the required paperwork to get approval from the human subjects review board.

Our overall plan is to pilot the assignments this Summer, run an experiment on LO efficacy this Fall, and run follow-up experiments in the Winter.


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