Teaching in the New Era of Psychological Science

A great collection of articles in the latest issue of PLAT. Contents page here. At that page, click to see the abstract of any article.

A big shout out to the wonderful editorial team that assembled this special issue: Susan A. Nolan (Seton Hall University, USA), Tamarah Smith (Gwynedd Mercy University, USA), Kelly M. Goedert (Seton Hall University, USA), Robert Calin-Jageman (Dominican University, USA)

The intro (as above) gives a good overview and summary of all the articles. It’s on open access here. As the editors say, the issue includes two reviews, three articles, and three reports, which together cover a wide range of Open Science issues, all from a teaching perspective.

Here are my haphazard thoughts:

  • Anglin and Edlund report a survey of psychology instructors. Overall, most don’t teach much about OS practices, but believe that more should be done. They identify the current incentive structure for researchers as a big problem and high priority for change. Indeed!
  • Three articles include discussion of Bayesian approaches to data analysis and interpretation. It’s certainly a big issue how statistical inference practice should and will develop in psychology. Can beginners be introduced successfully to Bayesian methods? (Play with JASP  and read the van Doorn et al. article for an inkling of how things are developing.) Should students be exposed to both conventional and Bayesian approaches to statistical thinking, or will this merely create confusion? If so, at which stage in a student’s statistical education? If first one then the other, which should come first?
  • I’m struck by the extent of student involvement and activity in many of the courses and approaches described. Flipped classroom, student-led discussions and classes, expectations of student initiative, and more. Very heartening! Such approaches tie in well with projects that follow the full sequence of a research project, from question conception through all the steps to full reporting and contemplation of further replication. I wish I, way back as a student, had experienced such courses!
  • Several articles describe courses and projects in which students collaborate, perhaps across several universities, to carry out a replication of a published study. Involving groups of students means that the replication can be usefully large. Following OS practices means that the results should be publishable, and a useful contribution to the literature. Such projects can also provide an excellent educational experience for upper year undergraduates and perhaps masters students.
  • Back in 2015 at the WPA Annual Convention in Las Vegas I was part of a symposium on collaborative replication projects involving students. Many of those attending the symposium were faculty in liberal arts schools, many of whom had little scope to conduct research, but who were expected to train their students in research methods. I felt a palpable enthusiasm in the room for this very new (at that time) idea that their students could participate in worthwhile large-scale collaborative replication projects that could provide excellent training, while being practically achievable within the limited resources available in many cases. Several of the PLAT articles describe how this approach has now developed considerably.
  • Taking a broad perspective, the editors “wonder if the approach these authors outlined might also be a way to combat an anti-science climate. If a greater number of students are actually engaged in science (e.g., in replications) rather than just class projects, they may view themselves as part of a larger scientific community, and, in turn, be less likely to have an overall distrust of science.” Bring this on!













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