Learning Goals for Psychology Majors

Adapted for Psych 300 - Animal Behavior


This list is adapted from a set of goals that the Psychology Department has identified as major learning targets for undergraduate students in the major. The most relevant goals that are met by this course are listed below. I have indicated the specific relevance of this course where appropriate.


Content: Students will demonstrate familiarity with major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology. They will be able to:

- Characterize the scientific nature of psychology (especially relevant to this course)

- Explain major historical perspectives of psychology (mainly behavioral and biological in this course)

- Explain how psychologists study behavior at several levels of analysis (mainly biological in this course)

- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding representing appropriate breadth and depth in at least two selected domains of psychology (e.g., animal behavior [primary], behavioral neuroscience [secondary])


Methods: Students will understand and use scientific research methods. They will be able to:

- Understand the role of hypothesis testing in theory building and testing and the role of statistical methods in psychological research

- Draw on and evaluate research evidence, including evaluating quantitative and graphical evidence to assess the strength of statistical support for scientific claims


Critical Thinking: Students will think about and view behavior through a psychological lens, i.e., using empirical information to understand the causes, correlates, logic, and consequences of behavior. They will be able to:

- Demonstrate scientific fluency by gathering information from scientific and/or popular sources, evaluating it (the validity, authoritativeness, relevance and usefulness of sources), synthesizing it, and using it

- Use data to predict something about behavior: infer and extrapolate

- Understand the tentative nature of knowledge; tolerate ambiguity and use skeptical inquiry

- Be epistemologically aware-understand how psychologists come to know things

- Reflect on information from the discipline and apply it to their lives


Diversity and Multicultural Awareness: Students will recognize, understand and appreciate the ways diversity, perspective, culture, and family affect individual behaviors. They will be able to:

- Understand aspects of human behavior that are shared across cultural, ethnic, gender, geographic, or other boundaries (particularly after the final unit on human behavior)


Communication: Students will be able to communicate effectively in a variety of formats. They will be able to:

- Formulate a written argument that is logical and coherent, that relies on scientific evidence, and that draws appropriate conclusions from that evidence (in this course, mainly on exams)

- Participate in discussions on topics in the field (in this course, mainly in discussion sections, and by answering or asking questions in lecture)