I Have to Take This Psychology Stuff with Research Too – Really?!

I Have to Take This Psychology Stuff with Research Too – Really?!

Elyse D’nn Lovell (Helena College University of Montana, Helena, MT, USA) and Elizabeth Karr (Helena College University of Montana, Helena, MT, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijavet.2013070102
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Abstract

The excitement was palpable as the day had finally come – Research Day! Introduction to Psychology students in a community college who were earning vocational and transfer degrees had become fledging researchers, exuberant to share their knowledge with peers, instructors, their families and community members. Students presented their research using mediums of traditional posters and or interactive, digital versions. The teaching leading up to research day included group activities to enhance persistence in learning and a sense of community. The purpose of this study was to assess students’ perceptions of research through a pre/post survey with three variables: interest in psychology, academic efficacy and project based learning /group work. Assessment measurements revealed changes among students indicating increased academic commitment through the lens of research.
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Project-Based Learning/Group Activities

Project-based learning is a term used interchangeably with problem-based learning, and this teaching venue has been shown to enhance student learning and motivation. This form of learning is often implemented via group activities. While considering learning outcomes, project-based learning has been assessed by the involvement and effectiveness of the instructor and the student culture / team approach among students (Krishnan, Gabb, & Vale, 2011). Real-world problem-solving is an integral part of project-based learning and motivation toward the acquisition of necessary skills including: the ability to think critically, apply theory, and transition concepts from learning in the classroom to professional application (Choi & Kyunghwa, 2008). As project-based learning appears to evolve with the learner from the classroom into direct application outside of the classroom, interest has shown to increase in the learners’ commitment to the subject matter (Kempler, 2006).

Research within Undergraduate Curriculum

Literature shows positive correlations to students’ participation in research which include: academic commitment, self-efficacy, working independently, and further understanding of the process of social sciences (Lopatto, 2010). These outcomes correspond to positive retention efforts (Guterman, 2007; Landrum& Nelsen, 2002; Russell, Hancock, & McCullough, 2007; Stellmack, 2013).There has been a recent focus nationally through the Community College of Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) supporting two-year college research in part due to positive correlations for students participating in research and the significant number of transfer students pursuing a four year degree (Lopatto, 2010). This perspective shifts cultural norms because historically students attending two-year institutions were not perceived as researchers. Among community college students, the consideration of potential differences between vocational and transfer degree students was not evidenced in research.

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