How do introductory psychology texts present science, and the scientist-practitioner model?

Stephen Provost, Debra Bath, Ottmar Lipp, Frances Martin, Greg Hannan, Peter O’Connor, Denise Chalmers, Gerry Farrell, Peter Wilson, Deborah Terry

Abstract


The design of psychology programs in Australian universities is guided by the principles of the ‘scientist-practitioner’ model. According to this model, practicing psychologists are expected to be able to contribute to the creation of knowledge through research as well as utilising effective, evidence-based, procedures. Accreditation guidelines thus emphasise research-skills development throughout undergraduate psychology programs, and the importance of the honours-level fourth year as a capstone experience for Australian students. The AUTC-funded project, Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Development in Psychology, will provide an analysis of various sources of influence upon undergraduate curricula, curriculum design, and student outcomes. A starting point for this analysis is to examine how the scientist-practitioner model is portrayed within introductory psychology texts, which form the basis for students’ understanding of the nature of psychology during their initial contact with the discipline. We will also be considering the treatment of the general nature of science in these texts, since the meaning of the phrase ‘scientist-practitioner’ is not clarified unless the meaning of the term ‘scientist’ is first known. The results of our initial survey of introductory texts will be provided, along with a description of our intentions to further.

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