American Psychological Association134,000 members
Education staff lead: Robin Hailstorks, PhD, RHailstorks@apa.org
APA's mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.
APA's Education Directorate advances education and training in psychology and the application of psychology to education and training by enhancing the quality of teaching and learning outcomes at all levels of education and training, meeting the demands of the changing demographics in a multicultural society through education and training, and increasing the level and availability of financial and public policy support for education and training. The Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Education, one of eight offices in the Education Directorate, advances psychology in secondary schools, community colleges and undergraduate programs by providing information, linkages, resources, funding and professional development to faculty, students and the general public.
APA has a long history of supporting undergraduate education in psychology and has hosted several national meetings during the past 50 years to promote high quality teaching in psychology. These meetings have resulted in APA books and publications that include recommendations for improving undergraduate education in the areas of teaching, learning, and assessment. These products are in keeping with APA's strategic goal of promoting psychology as a science and APA's mission to apply psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.
Following the 2008 APA National Conference on Undergraduate Education in Psychology, APA published Undergraduate Education in Psychology: A Blueprint for the Future of the Discipline (2010). This book provided numerous recommendations for how to improve teaching, student learning, the undergraduate psychology curriculum, and the use of technology in the classroom. This book also discussed the topics of learning outcomes and assessment as well as principles for quality undergraduate education. This latter topic became an APA policy document titled APA Principles for Quality Undergraduate Education in Psychology (2011) and can be found at
http://www.apa.org/education/undergrad/principles.aspx. There are five quality principles and more than 30 recommendations in this document that have broad application and could be used to promote high quality teaching in any academic discipline.
In 2011, the APA Board of Educational Affairs appointed a task force to update the APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major, herein referred to as Guidelines 2.0. In August 2013, APA's Council of Representatives approved Guidelines 2.0. This document captures a set of optimal expectations for performance by undergraduates who are enrolled in psychology courses at two different points in their educational experience: after the first four courses in psychology and at the completion of the degree in psychology. You may access this document at http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/about/psymajor-guidelines.aspx.
With more than 100,000 students completing bachelor's degrees in psychology annually, Guidelines 2.0 is an enormous contribution to the discipline because this document describes learning goals and outcomes for students who plan to either enter the workforce or pursue graduate study in psychology. Most of the skills acquired in the undergraduate psychology major, as delineated in Guidelines 2.0, are consistent with what employers are asking for in future hires.
Premier Contribution to Faculty Development
APA's Education Directorate provides grants for precollege and undergraduate teachers of psychology seeking funding to host meetings to facilitate faculty development. Grants are awarded by APA's Board of Educational Affairs (BEA).
The BEA Grants for Precollege and Teaching Conferences has a wide reach. APA members and teacher affiliates can apply for grants to support local, regional, and national meetings. Grant recipients must conduct a conference evaluation and submit a summary evaluation of the meeting. BEA reviews the impact of this program annually and makes recommendations about how to improve this initiative.
Additional Undergraduate Education Activities of APA
- The Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Education provides lots of resources to promote high quality teaching in psychology and faculty development. Please visit this site to learn more about these resources and professional development opportunities.
- The Online Psychology Laboratory (OPL) is a highly interactive, peer-reviewed resource for teaching psychological science that includes demonstrations and data sets.
- The APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (2013) represents a national effort to describe and develop high-quality undergraduate programs in psychology.