Just how beneficial is Introductory Psychology?

Introductory Psychology could be the most important class you’ll ever take. Not necessarily because you’ll become a psychologist, but because it has the potential to change your life. Or at the very least it will give you a unique insight into why people (including you) do the things they do. And like any good introductory psychology course, it should give you the framework for questioning and testing your intuitions about people. And in the long run, that will be the most useful thing you could learn.

Beyond the content

Yes, you will learn psychology content, (duh).  But you can always look up content: In this age of Google, it just isn’t as important that you remember who Johne Locke was, so much as you remember why you should know him in the first place. Your most important realization should be that some of what you think you know about people and their psychology is just wrong, possibly dangerously so.

The primary goal of an intro psychology course is to give you the skills to be a better thinker, a better writer, and a better scientist when it comes to understanding people. Make no mistake, psychology is a science. After such a course, you will know how to gather evidence, how to generate and test hypotheses with that evidence in order to continually improve your understanding of human behavior.

We should clear up one big misconception at the start: Most psychology isn’t applied. Psychology gives you a way of thinking about how to interpret and explore behavior. Much like physics relates to engineering, or biology relates to medicine, psychology provides the basic theories that other fields then apply to great effect. The fields that apply psychology’s understanding of human nature include law, politics, marketing, business, economics, industrial design, writing, and virtually any other area that deals with people or human factors. And just like you’d be upset at a doctor who doesn’t know anything about biology, you should be upset by politicians who ignore human nature when creating policy, businesses that don’t understand their customers, and products that confuse and frustrate consumers. In all of these cases, someone with a psychology background (like you) could help.

Nature of the hybrid version of PSY120.

PSY120 at Purdue is offered as a hybrid course. Hybrid means that you will learn some of the course content online and some of the content in recitation sections. We really think this format represents the best of both worlds. Online is a great way to get you up-to-date on basic content, while live recitation sections represent a time to help you master the harder, bigger concepts and wrestle with how to apply psychology in your life. Specifically, many of the basic facts and definitions, descriptions of studies, and standard lectures will be available to you online. These provide the basis for the activities you will be doing in recitation. NOTE: It is almost impossible to do well in the recitations if you haven’t first completed the lectures online.

The recitations are much smaller than the typical large lecture course and are meant to be authentic to the “real world”. That is, in the world outside of Purdue, you will not sit listening to lectures all day, you will instead be working with others, applying your knowledge of psychology to do amazing things. In recitation, you and your fellow psychology experts will be asked to complete activities that will help you gain a first-hand appreciation for the use of psychology in daily life.

You should also gain a supportive group that will help you become a better student. For example, your group might work on study habits, edit each other’s writing, or quiz each other for the upcoming test; you might even form social group to watch the lectures. Helping each other is a big part of life, and it is a huge part of the hybrid version of PSY120.

You might be wondering: “What does psychology have to do with being a better student?” Why practice writing or study skills in a psychology class; shouldn’t that be done in a study skills class or writing class?” Maybe, but you will learn alot about yourself and others by working on these activities. Like discovering that others often have a more realistic and objective view of your own abilities, and that their input can make you better. You might also be interested to know that writing, presenting, and working in groups are three of the most requested skills by employers.

Content is good. You will learn content. But without the skills to tell and inspire others with your knowledge, that knowledge will never have as big an impact. Look at it this way: In the end, it doesn’t really matter how a team “knows”, but how well they perform. This class will help you learn content and the skills to effectively apply that content in the real world. And isn’t that what college (and life) is all about?

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