Santa Clara University

Psychology department


Mission Statement

The principal educational purpose of the psychology department is to provide an excellent basic education for undergraduates in the theory, methodology, and core content areas of contemporary psychology.

A second purpose is to develop our students' critical thinking abilities and their capacities to express their thinking clearly when they speak or write.

A third purpose is to help our students apply psychological knowledge in ways that will improve the quality of people’s lives and promote the common good.

There is a strong emphasis on scholarship in the department, including faculty with active research programs and frequent opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty in research. Small class sizes, close student-faculty interactions, and a climate of scholarship are distinctive features of the psychology program.


Psychology Program Goals & Objectives for Student Learning

Goal 1 - Theory and Content Knowledge:

Students will become familiar with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology. They will also understand and appreciate the breadth of the field including the sub-disciplines, the connections among those sub-disciplines, and cultural variation in the application of psychological principles.

Objective 1: Demonstrate an understanding of the major sub-disciplines in Psychology.

Assessment plan: The requirements for psychology majors include a breadth requirement. All majors are required to take at least one course from five different sub-disciplines within psychology. The successful completion of this breadth requirement will provide one source of evidence that this objective has been met. In addition, a sampling of selected students’ work across the classes representing the five sub-disciplines of psychology will be evaluated. Within-student analyses will be conducted to determine how well students understand the information within the various sub-disciplines.

Objective 2: Make connections among sub-disciplines and recognize different levels of analysis [e.g., biological, behavioral, sociocultural].

Assessment plan: Students are introduced to the different sub-disciplines of psychology in our introductory courses and then asked to pull the pieces together in some of our capstone courses (e.g., History and Systems, Research Practica). Syllabi, assignments, and student work products (e.g., papers, exams) will be sampled from these courses and evaluated.

Objective 3: Students will recognize that psychological principles and research are embedded within cultural and historical contexts.

Assessment plan: A number of faculty indicated that they meet this objective in their classes. A sampling of the upper division classes will be selected and the syllabi, assignments, and student work will be examined to determine how, and how well, we are meeting this objective.

Goal 2 - Research Methods, Critical Thinking, and Ethics:

Students will develop an understanding of the research methods used in psychological research and use this understanding to think critically about psychological issues and research encountered in both the scientific literature and the mass media. Critical thinking includes a willingness to tolerate the ambiguity and complexity of human behavior and thought and a consideration of the ethical issues in psychological research and practice.

Objective 1: [skills objective] Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how to conduct psychological research using the appropriate techniques in a manner that is consistent with the ethical guidelines of the profession.

Assessment plan: This objective will be assessed primarily by examining the products of three types of classes: Psychology 43 (research methods courses), ethics in psychology, and senior capstone classes. In these classes students are taught research methods and expected to produce research products. A sampling of these products will be evaluated for technical and ethical appropriateness.

Objective 2: [analytic objective] Students will demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge of how psychological research is conducted to thinking critically about psychological information they encounter.

Assessment plan: Using our alignment matrix we have identified a number of classes in which faculty have stated students are asked to demonstrate competence for this objective. A sampling of faculty assignments and student products (e.g., tests, papers) will be collected and analyzed for evidence of critical thinking about psychological information.

Goal 3 - Application:

Students will develop the ability to thoughtfully consider how psychological research and principles can be applied to personal, social, and organizational issues in an ethical manner and with a sensitivity to the needs of marginalized individuals and groups.

Objective 1: Students will demonstrate the ability to think about how psychological principles can be applied to real issues among individuals, families, and/or institutions such as schools, health-care organizations, and the workplace.

Assessment plan: This objective will be assessed with a combination of course products (e.g., papers, exams) and experiential learning through Arruppe placements and internships. In several courses students are asked to apply psychological principles to real-world problems. A sampling of student products from these classes will be analyzed. In addition, reports from students regarding their field experiences will be analyzed. Focus-group discussions may also be used to gain students’ perceptions of their application of psychological principles in their experiential learning placements.

Goal 4Information Literacy:

Students will learn and understand how to gain information about psychology and psychological research using such sources as libraries, printed reference material, and technological aids.

Objective 1: Students will demonstrate the ability to locate relevant and appropriate source materials.

Assessment plan: This objective will be assessed both by examining a sampling of student papers that require the use of psychological references and by assignments in our methods courses that require students to gain information from the library and other appropriate reference sources.

Goal 5 - Communication Skills:

Students will learn to effectively communicate in a variety of forms commonly used in the discipline including written and oral communication.

Objective 1: Students will demonstrate effective writing skills within the conventions of the discipline.

Assessment plan: In many of our classes, ranging from the introductory level to the capstone, faculty ask students to write about psychological phenomenon using APA style. A sampling of these assignments and the student work from lower and upper division classes will allow us to assess the development of these skills over time as well as the final level of mastery that students possess upon graduating from the program.

Goal 6 - Career and Graduate School Planning and Development:

Students will have access to information about practica opportunities available to current students and to information about professional and academic post-graduate options.

Objective 1: Students will demonstrate an awareness of the opportunities to obtain information about professional and academic post-graduate options.

Assessment plan: Every graduating senior must complete an exit survey. In the survey we will ask seniors about their awareness of opportunities to gain information about post-graduate options for psychology majors. We will also ask whether they participated in any of the programs designed to inform students about post-graduate options (e.g., whether they attended any of our annual presentations regarding graduate school or careers, whether they used our library of information about graduate schools, etc.)

Objective 2: Students will demonstrate an awareness of practica and collaborative research opportunities available to undergraduate psychology majors.

Assessment plan: This objective will be assessed in two ways. First, we will ask students about their awareness of these opportunities in our exit survey. Second, we will keep track, using faculty reports, of the number of students who participated in research with faculty while at SCU. This information can be gained from faculty activity reports (FARs).


Psychology Program Goals & Objectives for Scholarship

Goal 7 - Faculty Scholarship:

Permanent, full-time members of the Psychology faculty will maintain active programs of research.

Objective 1: Permanent, full-time members of the Psychology faculty will be engaged in various stages of research from proposal writing to data collection to dissemination of research findings in outlets common to the discipline (e.g., publish articles in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals, publish books, present papers at professional conferences, and give invited addresses). Faculty will accomplish this objective through activities most appropriate for their individual specialization, research program, and career phase.

Assessment plan: Information about faculty scholarship will be gathered from activity reports of tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Goal 8 - Including Students in Research:

Psychology faculty will encourage students to participate in the research process and often may include student collaborators in their research.

Objective 1: Faculty research, at various stages of the research process (e.g., data collection, data analysis, and dissemination of scholarly activity) will often involve student collaborators.

Assessment plan: This objective will be assessed using a combination of faculty and student reports. The activities reports of tenured and tenure-track faculty include information about the inclusion of students in faculty research activities. In addition, senior exit surveys and interviews will assess student participation in faculty sponsored research activities.


Psychology Program Goals & Objectives for Faculty Service

Goal 9 - Service:

Consistent with the mission and values of our university as well as our academic discipline, the psychology department aims to provide ethically sound professional service to the department, university, and community. In consultation with the Chair, each faculty member seeks to offer service that is consistent with their talents and career development. Our service seeks to, where possible, use psychological theory, research, and practice to inform and enhance the common good in an effort to help create a more humane, just, and ethical world.

Objective 1: Faculty will demonstrate a willingness to participate in service activities by serving on committees at the department, college, and university level, engaging in service to the profession, and being involved in community service activities.

Assessment plan: Information about faculty service will be gathered from activity reports of tenured and tenure-track faculty.


Psychology Program Goals & Objectives for Curriculum and Pedagogy

Goal 10 - Foster a culture of evidence:

In the courses offered in the psychology program we will emphasize a culture of evidence that places a premium on empirical research as the method of understanding psychological phenomena.

Objective 1: Course syllabi and assignments will emphasize the importance of empirical examination of psychological phenomena.

Goal 11 - Create a major that encompasses the breadth of the discipline and is aligned with current trends in the discipline.

Objective 1: The required courses for the major will represent major subdisciplines within psychology and be in line with APA recommendations for the Psychology major.


Timeline of Self-Study Activities for the Psychology Department

Our program review assessment plan includes 10 goals and 15 objectives. Over a 6-year program review cycle we will need to assess 2-3 objectives per year. Below we present a proposed timeline for assessing each of our objectives.

Note: G = Goal, O = Objective


2004-2005 Self-Study Plan Details

This academic year we will assess two of our objectives. One of these, the second objective of our second goal, taps into critical thinking. The second of these, the first objective of the fifth goal, concerns the development of writing skills. Our methods of assessing each of these goals is explained below.

Goal 2, Objective 2:

Becoming “critical thinkers” In our alignment matrix we identified a number of classes in which this objective was met at the “Demonstrate” level. These classes include some of our senior capstone classes as well as our statistics and research methods classes. In the winter quarter, we will collect the syllabi, assignments, and written products (i.e., papers, projects) from all of the students in 3 of these classes. Papers will be deposited into an electronic portfolio and stored on the internet. This should yield between 100-120 papers and projects from 50-60 students. A random sample of 25 of these work products will be selected and analyzed for evidence of critical thinking regarding psychological information. In addition, the assignments that motivated these work products will also be analyzed to determine the demands for critical thinking made on students by the assignments.

Goal 5, Objective 1:

At all levels of the major, from the introductory courses to the capstone, students are asked to produce written work that conforms with the style of the discipline (i.e., American Psychological Association guidelines). Therefore, we have the opportunity to assess this objective developmentally. To do this we will collect examples of students writing in our introductory courses, our research methods courses, and our capstone courses offered in the Winter, 2005 quarter. We will use the electronic portfolio method of collecting papers and select a sample of these papers from these three levels of the major (introductory, research methods, and capstone). This will give us a cross-sectional snapshot of the development of writing skills in the discipline. In subsequent years, we can also collect information within individual students as they progress through the major to examine how their writing skills develop over time (i.e., longitudinally). In addition, we will include samples of work from our “Writing in Psychology” course that focuses specifically on developing the skill of writing in the disciplinary style. The data for Goal 2, Objective 2 was collected in the Winter quarter. It will be analyzed early in the Spring, 2005 quarter and we will make our report available to the external reviewers who visit our department later in the spring.

Revised April 5, 2005 


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