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Psychology
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The State of Social Science General Education: An Analysis (Research Paper Sample)

Instructions:
This sample is the product of a six-month research project, which was completed as part of an independent research group at clemson university. the goal of the research was to gain insight and understanding of the status of social science education within a general education curriculum. for example, we would look at university of x and review the general education curriculum. we recorded the courses that students were required to take as part of the general education program at nearly one-hundred universities. when we reviewed general education curriculum lists that did not require a social science course, we put those universities into a separate group, which was intended for further inquiiry / research. we conducted interviews with officials from several of those universities that did not have a strong social science presence in their general education programs. This sample is comprised of critical data , statistics, and information from many of the top universities in the united states. the information that was gained from this study was used as the basis and beginning of a future research project. source..
Content:
The State of Social Science General Education: An Analysis Dr. Mary Anne Taylor and Benjamin S. Myers Clemson University The State of Social Science General Education: An Analysis The state of higher education in the United States has become an increasingly debated and controversial topic. Universities throughout the country strive to stand out from the others while attempting to fulfill state and national requirements for accreditation. The utilization of a disciplinary-based or interdisciplinary-based approach to education has become one of the more controversial topics within higher education. Most universities throughout the U.S. utilize the disciplinary based approached, but there has been an increasing presence of individuals advocating for a more interdisciplinary based approach (Singer, Nielsen, & Schweingruber, 2012; Goldsmith, 2012). In order to make recommendations for the future of higher education, a variety of colleges and universities must be examined. This paper will examine major public universities, large private universities, and small liberal arts colleges. Additionally, the effectiveness of assessing learning outcomes is analyzed. Finally, recommendations and future directions are determined for the main university of interest, which is Clemson University. Comparison of Approaches to Education Disciplinary Approach Disciplinary based education is the approach to education that a majority of colleges use to structure their courses. There are numerous advantages to using a disciplinary system. Disciplinary based education provides a way to organize along with being the main social framework. The way disciplinary groups are set up is looked at as an academic tribe. Each group has its own set of intellectual values and its own cognitive territory (Becher, 1989). It has been seen that if there is a lack of disciplinary content, it may prevent the learning of new material (Gess-Newsome 2001). The awareness of disciplinary structure is essential in conducting research and higher education. (Becher, 1989). The use of a disciplinary structure allows a highly flexible pattern that is adapted and modified to fit the particular problems and situations to which it is applied (GessNewsome, 2001). Social science classes contain their own type of disciplinary structure. Each focus on their own set of methodologies. Psychology and Sociology courses tend to focus on the same type of mythology. Psychology focuses on the identification of new issues. Additionally, there is a focus on designing solutions in research that are particularly reflected in large-scale social experiments (Aiken, 1990). Research psychologists are known to be among the leaders in the development of scientific methodology. There are three different variations within the methodology of psychology. The first is the rise of life-span developmental perspectives, which has led to interest in studying processes that take place over time. The second is the rise of cognitive psychology, which had led to interest in theoretically proposed structures and processes whose existence can only be inferred from complex patterns of relationships. Lastly, there is a rise of a variety of applied perspective. For example community psychology that has led to increased in studying phenomena in real-world settings (Aiken, 1990). In psychology education there is extensive training in methodology. Sociologists in their methodologies have provided much of the push for statistical advance and the development of modern measurement theory (Aiken, 1990). In Anthropology, the methodologies typically involve an ethnographic study to make usual fieldwork methodology appropriately supplemented with historical background (Akhil & Ferguson, 1997). The previously mentioned approach has remained a major point of emphasis in the field. Anthropological methodology is advocating for a reconstruction in the practice of fieldwork; there is an emerging sense of study that cares about and pays attention to the interlocking of multiple social-political sites and locations (Akhil & Ferguson, 1997). A historiography mythology focuses on critical reading. From this this perspective, a major point of emphasis for the education of students is to be able to read critically. To be successful at reading critically, one needs to bring a degree of skepticism to a text (Queen’s College History Department, 2012). Not all sources are telling the full story; in history one of the greatest skills is to be able to evaluate contradictory data and claims. There will always be situations when individuals studying history will encounter contradictory claims; therefore the identification of contradictory claims and data is a major skill for students to possess (Queen’s College History Department, 2012). The concept of combining cross-cultural awareness with social science has been postulated. The subfield of Cross-cultural psychology is an example of the combination of the two. The aim of cross-cultural psychology is to demonstrate the influence of cultural factors on human behavior. Therefore, individuals typically act in a way that correlates with the cultural expectation (Berry, Poortinga. Segall, & Dasen, 1992). Within psychology there has been noted benefits to combining cross-cultural awareness. Business has incorporated cross-cultural awareness, which is demonstrated by crosscultural awareness being seen through intercultural communication that involves: awareness, knowledge, and skills (Hofstede, 2001). Skills that are taught through some businesses make certain that people will be successful in the communication of intercultural relationships (Tan & Chau, 2003). Cultural intelligence contains: cognitive, behavioral, and motivational facets, which can be easily combined with social science (Earley & Ang, 2003). Interdisciplinary Approach The thought of a college education is highly regarded as an important steppingstone to becoming successful with respects to our societal norms. However, it is becoming more apparent that college education is losing its ardor, and students are often coming out of respected educational institutions with nothing to show for their education (Lake, 1994). The challenge has now become, what can colleges/universities do to assess what their students are learning before, during, and even after the time of enrollment. One commonly used way has been through the scope of an interdisciplinary approach. Interdisciplinary approach is defined as “one in which two or more disciplines are brought together, preferably in such a way that the disciplines interact with one another and have some effect on another’s perspectives” (Ivanitskaya, Clark, Montgomery & Primeau, 2000). The goal of education should be to combine everything learned on a general level and apply it to real life situations. Therein lies the underlying problem because it becomes very difficult to broaden everything one person’s learned. The disciplinary approach to education is focused on specializing learning for novice learners, but this approach also fails to interface several disciplines at the same time. This result is students acquiring knowledge in categorical context, which means that each discipline is learned separately. The goal of interdisciplinary learning should be to “emphasize higherorder thinking and seek meaningful connections between and among disciplines” (Lake, 1994). A specific example examined CMU’s (Central Michigan University) Humanities program. Their goal is to bring together “professional teachers of literature, history, music, and art to study their mutual fields, identify where their fields of expertise overlap, and share their individual and group perspectives” (Humphreys, 1981). A literature course in particular examined a particular poet while analyzing the poet’s language, methodologies, and perspective. The students are then asked to take this analysis of the poet and apply his perspective to another topic. In this case the students had to apply it to African masks and their meanings. As more information is compiled in various disciplines it becomes harder for teachers to cover subjects with high degrees of specificity. Interdisciplinary approach is advantageous in its ability to shift “the programmatic focus from memorization of facts to focus on a central theme, application of knowledge relative to this theme, and reflection on the thinking process” (Ivanitskaya et. al., 2000). While it is widely believed that the interdisciplinary approach is highly beneficial, the main problem and/or disadvantage is the lack of standard curriculums around the nation to assess this and the lack of content specific material. Interdisciplinary approach improves meta-cognitive development and intellectual maturation. In Repko’s assessment of interdisciplinary outcomes, he discusses four cognitive outlooks or criteria that he suggests could amplify interdisciplinary intentions. These include: Demonstrate the ability to engage in perspective-taking, develop structural knowledge pertaining to the course problem or them, Integrate knowledge and modes of thinking drawn from two or more disciplines, and introduce an interdisciplinary understanding of a complex problem or intellectual question. Repko goes on to state that these four criteria, if combined with other learning outcomes, can make the most out of the interdisciplinary outcomes. The next step is assessing these abilities in an entrance and exit survey for each student. Furthermore, it is noted, “the value of this data is that they are derived from student perceptions of their abilities measured against the learning outcomes for the course. Student perceptions may also be compared to actual student performance” (Repko, 2008). Assessment of Learning Outcomes The assessment of student learning outcomes within institutes of higher education has become a worrisome ...
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