Teaching introductory psychology
TIPS FROM TOP
Richard A. Griggs
University of Florida
Sherri L. Jackson
This book follows in the footsteps of the first three volumes in the Handbook for
Teaching Introductory Psychology series. In the prefaces to these volumes, the various editors all
stressed two major points relevant to the development of this series. These comments also apply
to this book. First, introductory psychology is one of the most popular courses with students, and
it is central in importance to the undergraduate psychology curriculum. Second, Teaching of
Psychology (ToP) is recognized as one of the premier disciplinary pedagogical journals and, as
such, regularly includes excellent articles on teaching the introductory course. Thus, a current,
readily accessible, and organized collection of articles from ToP on teaching the introductory
course should be an invaluable resource to introductory teachers, and indeed, this has proved to
be the case for the first three volumes. We hope that the same holds true for this volume. To
emphasize the resource nature of this new volume in the series, we abandoned the more formal
previous titles and entitled this new volume, Teaching Introductory Psychology: Tips from ToP.
The organizational structure of the first three volumes was relatively the same. The
editors presented the articles in two major sections (Issues and Approaches in Teaching
Introductory Psychology and Demonstrations and Activities in Introductory Psychology). The
subsection topics in the first section have remained fairly constant across volumes, with some
new topics on assessment added to Volume III. These topics include not only general approaches
to teaching the introductory course but also more specific topics such as introductory textbook
selection, all aspects of testing ranging from student preparation to testing factors, and extra
credit. The ordering of the subsection topics in the Demonstrations and Activities section
parallels the typical chapter-topic sequence used in most introductory psychology textbooks. To
maintain continuity across volumes, we incorporated this organizational structure for these two
sections in the present volume. Most of the subsections from the first three volumes appear in
this one. However, because the number of articles on the role of technology in teaching the
introductory course (e.g., online versions of the course, the use of computerized quizzing, and
use of electronic student response systems) has dramatically increased over the past decade due
to the importance of the role of technology in teaching, we include a new major section
(Technology in Teaching Introductory Psychology) devoted to them. This new section has been
positioned in between the other two major sections.
With the first issue of ToP appearing in 1974 and the third volume in this handbook
series including articles up to 2000, the average time period covered for each volume is a little
over eight years. This volume, however, covers a slightly longer publication period, from 2000 to
2010. We conducted a thorough examination of all of the issues of ToP during this period and
identified over 170 articles relevant to teaching introductory psychology to evaluate further for
possible inclusion in this volume. Of these, we chose 113 articles for inclusion–61 for Issues and
Approaches in Teaching Introductory Psychology, 25 for Technology in Teaching Introductory
Psychology, and 27 for Demonstrations and Activities in Introductory Psychology. The articles
within each subsection are ordered chronologically according to their publication dates starting
with the earliest one. The citation information for each article is provided in the Citation Index.
Each of the three major sections is broken down into more specific subsections so that
you can go directly to the topic of your choice. For example, the new Technology in Teaching
Introductory Psychology section has been divided into six subsections: Online Delivery of the
Course, Computer Assisted Instruction, Posting Course Lecture Notes, Electronic Review Tools,
Electronic Student Response Systems, and Computerized Quizzing. Thus, for example, if you are
interested in using Clickers in your classroom, you can go to the Electronic Student Response
Systems subsection to see what the ToP authors on this topic have learned from their use of and
research on such systems. We also provide a Brief Table of Contents so that you can more easily
view the entire organizational structure of the book–the three major sections with all of the
subsections for each one listed. In the Demonstrations and Activities section, you will find that
we have not provided a demonstration or activity for each major chapter topic in an introductory
textbook because during the period covered by this volume, no relevant demonstrations or
activities for some topics were published in ToP. This section, however, still provides 27
excellent demonstrations or activities for 10 different introductory course topics.
As with the previous three volumes, this book contains the work of many dedicated
teachers. We would like to thank all of them for sharing their ideas and research with us. We
would also like to thank Bill Buskist and Jeff Stowell for their invaluable help in bringing this
project to fruition.
Richard A. Griggs Sherri L. Jackson
University of Florida Jacksonville University
BRIEF TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section I. Approaches and Issues in Teaching Introductory Psychology
1. Approaches to the Introductory Course
2. Research Participation for Introductory Students
3. Active Learning
4. Examinations: Test Items
5. Examinations: Student Preparation
6. Examinations: Testing Factors
7. Examinations: Course Design Factors
8. Examinations: Effects of Study Guide and Pedagogical Aid Use
9. Students’ Course Preferences and Knowledge about Psychology
10.Introductory Textbooks: Selection and Student Use
11.Introductory Textbooks: Content
12. Extra Credit
Section II. Technology in Teaching Introductory Psychology
1. Online Delivery of the Course
2. Computer Assisted Instruction
3. Posting Course Lecture Notes
4. Electronic Review Tools
5. Electronic Student Response Systems
6. Computerized Quizzing
Section III. Demonstrations and Activities in Introductory Psychology
2. Research Methods and Statistics
3. Sensation and Perception
7. Social Psychology
9. Abnormal Psychology
Appendix: Citation Information
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Front Matter and Appendix
Brief Table of Contents
Full Table of Contents
Appendix: Citation Information
Section I. Approaches and Issues in Teaching Introductory
1. Approaches to the Introductory Course
Service learning in a general psychology class: Description, preliminary
evaluation, and recommendations. Molly D. Kretchmar
Instructional television versus traditional teaching of an introductory
psychology course. Steven F. Bacon and Julie A. Jakovich
Exposure to the fields of psychology: Evaluation of an introductory
psychology project. Amanda M. Maynard, Douglas C. Maynard, and Kirsten
Introductory psychology topics and student performance: Where’s the
challenge? Andrew C. Peck, Rahan S. Ali, Robert L. Matchock, and Max E.
Techniques for increasing student learning from educational videos: Notes
versus guiding questions. Timothy J. Lawson, James H. Bodle, and Tracy A.
Classic articles as primary source reading in introductory psychology. Richard
A. Griggs and Sherri L. Jackson
The effect of refuting misconceptions in the introductory psychology class.
Patricia Kowalski and Annette Kujawski Taylor
Do student perceptions of diversity emphasis relate to perceived learning of
psychology. Joelle D. Elicker, Andrea F. Snell, and Alison L. O’Malley
Does the first week of class matter? A quasi-experimental investigation of
student satisfaction. Anthony D. Hermann, David A. Foster, & Erin E. Hardin
Exploring interdisciplinary themes in introductory psychology. Kristin A.
Ritchey & Jennifer P. Bott
2. Research Participation for Introductory Students
Using a dining facility as an introductory psychology research laboratory.
Nancy Koschmann and Richard Wesp
Using exam bonus points as incentive for research participation. Joseph R.
Ferrari and Stephanie McGowan
An argument for a laboratory in introductory psychology. Howard C. Berthold,
Christopher M. Hakala, and Dennis Goff
The pedagogical value of experimental participation paired with course
content. Michelle Ceynar Rosell, Danielle M. Beck, Katie E. Luther, Kelly M.
Goedert, Wendelyn J. Shore, and Dana D. Anderson
Introductory psychology students’ perceptions of alternatives to research
participation. David Trafimow, Laura Madson, and Iola Gwizdowski
Introducing students to psychological research: General psychology as a
laboratory course. Thomas J. Thieman, E. Gil Clary, Andrea M. Olson, Rachel
C. Dauner, and Erin Ring
A video introduction to psychology: Enhancing research interest and
participation. Donald F. Sacco and Michael J. Bernstein
3. Active Learning
Active learning within a lecture: Assessing the impact of short, in-class writing
exercises. Adam Butler, Kayah-Bah Phillmann, and Lona Smart
Obedience, conformity, and social roles: Active learning in a large
introductory psychology class. April L. Bleske-Rechek
Focused interactive learning: A tool for active class discussion. Helen C.
Harton, Deborah S. Richardson, Ricardo E. Barreras, Matthew J. Rockloff,
and Bibb Latané
Using case studies in introductory psychology. Julie A. Leonard, Kirsten L.
Mitchell, Steven A. Meyers, and Jacqueline D. Love
A motivating exercise for the introductory class (and beyond). Louise Katz
Students teaching students: An experiential learning opportunity for large
introductory psychology classes in collaboration with local elementary schools.
Gary M. Muir and Gretchen J. van der Linden
4. Examinations: Test Items
Difficulty and discriminability of introductory psychology test items. Charles
Scialfa, Connie Legare, Larry Wenger, and Louis Dingley
Using ignorance questions to promote critical thinking skills. David W. Carroll
The use of discrimination indexes in constructing course exams: A question of
assumptions. Daniel R. Stalder
5. Examinations: Student Preparation
Study tips: How helpful do introductory psychology students find them?
William R. Balch
Student perspectives on grade changes from test to test. Baron Perlman and
Lee I. McCann
Improving students’ exam performance by introducing study strategies and
goal setting. Victoria Manion Fleming
How do students really study (and does it matter)? Regan A. R. Gurung
Academic background and course involvement as predictors of exam
performance. Byron L. Zamboanga, Laura M. Padilla-Walker, Sam A. Hardy,
Ross A. Thompson, and Sherry C. Wang
Effects of test expectation on multiple-choice performance and subjective
ratings. William R. Balch
6. Examinations: Testing Factors
Students’ reasons for writing on multiple-choice examinations. Frank M.
LoSchiavo and Mark A. Shatz
Differential test performance from differently colored paper: White paper
works best. Nicholas F. Skinner
Effect of crib card construction and use on exam performance. K. Laurie
Dickson and Michelle D. Miller
Effect of paper color and question order on exam performance. Ilani R. Tal,
Katherine G. Akers, and Gordon K. Hodge
7. Examinations: Course Design Factors
The exam-a-day procedure improves performance in psychology classes.
Frank C. Leeming
Influence of unannounced quizzes and cumulative exam on attendance and
study behavior. Haig Kouyoumdjian
Elaborations of introductory psychology terms: Effects on test performance
and subjective ratings. William R. Balch
The impact of daily extra credit quizzes on exam performance. Laura M.
Introductory psychology student performance: Weekly quizzes followed by a
cumulative final exam. R. Eric Landrum
8. Examinations: Effects of Study Guide and Pedagogical Aid Use
Pedagogical aids and student performance. Regan A. R. Gurung
Pedagogical aids: Learning enhancers or dangerous detours? Regan A. R.
Effect of textbook study guides on student performance in introductory
psychology. K. Laurie Dickson, Michelle D. Miller, and Michael S. Devoley
Effect of study guide exercises on multiple-choice exam performance in
introductory psychology. K. Laurie Dickson, Michael S. Devoley, and Michelle
9. Students’ Course Preferences and Knowledge about Psychology
Grade expectations. Jane F. Gaultney and Arnie Cann
Prior knowledge and its relevance to student achievement in introduction to
psychology. Ross A. Thompson and Byron L. Zamboanga
Does deliberate source monitoring reduce students’ misconceptions about
psychology? Joshua D. Landau and Anthony J. Bavaria
Empowering students: Class-generated course rules. Jeannie D. DiClementi
and Mitchell M. Handelsman
10. Introductory Textbooks: Selection and Student Use
Textbook selection: Balance between the pedagogy, the publisher, and the
student. R. Eric Landrum and LuAnne Hormel
Student use of introductory texts: Comparative survey findings from two
universities. Jason F. Sikorski, Kelly Rich, Bryan K. Saville, William Buskist,
Oksana Drogan, and Stephen F. Davis
Using a core textbook for the introductory course. Richard A. Griggs, Sherri L.
Jackson, and Pam Marek
Using common core vocabulary in text selection and teaching the introductory
course. Richard A. Griggs, Alexandra Bujak-Johnson, and Derrick L. Proctor
Evaluating the electronic textbook: Is it time to dispense with the paper text?
James A. Shepperd, Jodi L. Grace, and Erika J. Koch
11. Introductory Textbooks: Content
Similarity of introductory psychology textbooks: Reality or illusion. Richard
A. Griggs and Pam Marek
Operant conditioning concepts in introductory psychology textbooks and their
companion web sites. Jane P. Sheldon
Psychology textbooks: Examining their accuracy. Faye B. Steuer and K.
Whitfield Ham, II
The representation of applied psychology areas in introductory psychology
textbooks. Charlotte W. Haselhuhn and Kerri L. Clopton
12. Extra Credit
Extra credit exercise: A painless pop quiz. B. Michael Thorne
Extra credit: Gifts for the gifted? Marjorie S. Hardy
Breaking the silence: Using a token economy to reinforce classroom
participation. Kurt A. Boniecki and Stacy Moore
Section II. Technology in Teaching Introductory Psychology
1. Online Delivery of the Course
The online delivery of psychology courses: Attrition, performance, and
evaluation. Stefanie B. Waschull
Integrating technology and pedagogy: Web instruction and seven principles of
undergraduate education. Michael H. Newlin and Alvin Y. Wang
Teaching in cyberspace: Online versus traditional instruction using a waiting-
list experimental design. Christopher R. Poirier and Robert S. Feldman
Predicting success in online psychology courses: Self-discipline and
motivation. Stefanie B. Waschull
Enhancing online instruction with humor. Frank M. LoSchiavo and Mark A.
2. Computer Assisted Instruction
Are computer-assisted teaching methods effective? Kurt A. DeBord, Mara S.
Aruguete, and Jeannette Muhlig
Employing computer-administered exams in general psychology: Student
anxiety and expectations. Carolyn A. Schult and John L. McIntosh
Using group web page and video clip creation exercises in introductory
psychology courses. Terry F. Pettijohn II and Elizabeth G. Perelli
Presentation software in the college classroom: Don’t forget the instructor.
Erin E. Hardin
Does an interactive WebCT site help students learn? Joelle D. Elicker, Alison
L. O’Malley, and Christine M. Williams
They hear, but do not listen: Retention for podcasted material in a classroom
context. David B. Daniel & William Douglas Woody
3. Posting Course Lecture Notes
Providing students with instructors’ notes: Problems with reading, studying,
and attendance. Michael A. Vandehey, Crystale M. Marsh, and George M.
Differential effects of full and partial notes on learning outcomes and
attendance. Tara L. Cornelius & Jamie Owen-DeSchryver
If you post it, will they come? Lecture availability in introductory psychology.
M. Christina Hove and Kevin J. Corcoran
4. Electronic Review Tools
Using interactive computer technology to enhance learning. Joy R. Pemberton,
Joaquin Borrego, Jr., and Lee M. Cohen
A technology classroom review tool for general psychology. Stephen T. Paul,
John A. Messina, and Alma M. Hollis
5. Electronic Student Response Systems
Promoting active learning using individual response technology in large
introductory psychology classes. Christopher R. Poirer and Robert S. Feldman
Benefits of electronic audience response systems on student participation,
learning, and emotion. Jeffrey R. Stowell and Jason M. Nelson
Using wireless response systems to replicate behavioral research findings in
the classroom. Anne M. Cleary
Efficacy of personal response systems (“clickers”) in large, introductory
psychology classes. Beth Morling, Meghan McAuliffe, Lawrence Cohen, and
Thomas M. DiLorenzo
Using student response systems (“Clickers”) to combat conformity and
shyness. Jeffrey R. Stowell, Terrah Oldham, & Dan Bennett
6. Computerized Quizzing
Effective student use of computerized quizzes. Thomas Brothen and Cathrine
The value of time limits on internet quizzes. Thomas Brothen and Cathrine
Are online study questions beneficial? Kristin Grimstad and Mark Grabe
Using web-based quizzing to improve exam performance: Lessons learned.
David B. Daniel and John Broida
Section III Demonstrations and Activities in Introductory
Forbidden words: A strategy for studying psychology. Michelle M. Merwin
Encouraging distributed study: A classroom experiment on the spacing effect.
William R. Balch
Improving students’ study habits by demonstrating the mnemonic benefits of
semantic processing. Julie M. Bugg, Edward L. DeLosh, and Mark A.
2. Research Methods and Statistics
A one-minute “intelligence” test. Richard A. Griggs
A psychic-reading demonstration designed to encourage critical thinking.
Timothy J. Lawson
Teaching the principles of test validation in introductory psychology. Richard
Wesp and Sussie Eshun
Introducing psychology students to research methodology: A word-
pleasantness experiment. William R. Balch
Demonstrating experimenter “ineptitude” as a means of teaching internal and
external validity. Kimberli R. H. Treadwell
3. Sensation and Perception
Classroom demonstrations of auditory perception. LaDawn Haws and Brian J.
Seeing the light: A classroom-sized pinhole camera demonstration for teaching
vision. Matthew W. Prull and William P. Banks
Acquisition, extinction, and renewal of classical conditioning: Updating Cogan
and Cogan (1984). W. Robert Batsell, Jr.
Examining memory phenomena through flashbulb memories. Mark Sudlow
Hoyert and Cynthia D. O’Dell
An active learning classroom activity for the “cocktail party phenomenon.”
Michael A. Clump
An effective exercise for teaching cognitive heuristics. Alan Swinkels
Helping students gain insight into mental set. Richard A. Griggs
Demonstrating the Monty Hall dilemma. Matthew R. Kelley
7. Social Psychology
Demonstrating the concept of illusory correlation. Jay W. Jackson
“Me conform? No way”: Classroom demonstrations for sensitizing students to
their conformity. C. R. Snyder
Using a “new classic” film to teach about stereotyping and prejudice. Andrew
N. Christopher, Jamie L. Walter, Pam Marek, and Cynthia S. Koenig
You are what you wear: An interactive demonstration of the self-fulfilling
prophecy. Michelle R. Hebl and Eden B. King
Using The Simpsons to teach social psychology. Judy Eaton and Ayse K. Uskul
What’s in a name? Better letters if it’s mine! Angela Lipsitz and Lance A.
Why does the “above average effect” exist? Demonstrating idiosyncratic trait
definition. Jason A. Nier
I scream, you scream: Teaching validity and reliability via the ice cream
personality test. Marianne Miserandino
Heeeere’s Johnny: A case study in the five factor model of personality.
9. Abnormal Psychology
Teaching students to evaluate web information as they learn about
psychological disorders. Mark A. Casteel
10. Industrial/Organizational Psychology
An evaluation of industrial/organizational psychology teaching modules for
use in introductory psychology. Douglas C. Maynard, Peter D. Bachiochi, and
Ana C. Luna
Service Learning in a General Psychology Class:
Description, Preliminary Evaluation,
Molly D. Kretchmar
In this article, I describe a service-learning project for an introduc- which there can be a patronizing distinction between those
tory psychology course. Thirty-two of 36 general psychology stu- serving and those seeking services. In contrast, service learn-
dents chose service learning over an optional research project, and ing emphasizes an equal exchange: “Both the server and
most students (over 80%) evaluated the experience favorably in those served teach, and both learn” (Kendall, 1991, p. 20).
terms of its impact on their learning and commitment to service. The Finally, service learning goes beyond traditional community
discussion focuses on recommendations about issues ranging from service by connecting the volunteer experience to specific ac-
the logistics of developing and managing a service-learning course to ademic goals, which are facilitated by reflection, discussion,
concerns inherent in placing students in community agencies. and integration with course material (Cooper, 1996b; Kend-
all, 1991; Kobrin & Mareth, 1996; Morton, 1993; see also
When outstanding teachers are interviewed or students Service learning is positively associated with a variety of
are asked about their most meaningful learning experiences, student outcomes ranging from intellectual growth to social
they often highlight the active engagement and participa- action (Batchelder & Root, 1994; Giles & Eyler 1994; Gray
tion of the student in the learning process (see Halonen, et al., 1996; Markus, Howard, & King, 1993). For example, a
1992; 1997 Teaching Award Winners, 1997). Additionally, large-scale evaluation of the initiative Learn and Serve
recent years have witnessed a growing concern about the America, Higher Education (Gray et al., 1996) reported
education of students as ethically responsible citizens. In higher levels of academic achievement (measured by multi-
1985, the presidents of Brown, Georgetown, and Stanford ple indexes including grades, degree aspirations, gains in
Universities along with the Education Commission of the knowledge, time devoted to academic studies, and comple-
States founded Campus Compact, an organization dedi- tion of extra work) among service participants than among
cated to fostering among students the development of “val- nonparticipants. Service participants also scored higher than
ues and skills of civic participation through involvement in their nonparticipant counterparts on a variety of measures of
public service” (Kobrin & Mareth, 1996, p. 8). More spe- civic responsibility (e.g., commitment to helping others in
cific to the discipline of psychology, Brewer et al. (1993) ar- difficulty) and on indexes of life skills (e.g., understanding
ticulated 11 recommendations for the psychology community problems). These group differences remained sig-
curriculum, including “ensure that courses more accurately nificant even after controlling for student characteristics as-
reflect the diversity of humankind”; “provide students with sessed prior to service learning, such as the predisposition to
the experience and understanding they will need to make engage in service. Gray et al.’s findings were further substan-
the world a better place in which to lead productive and tiated by Markus et al. (1993), who found that students ran-
fulfilling lives”; and “help students understand psychology domly assigned to “community service” sections in an
as a science, a profession, and a means of promoting human introductory politics class earned a higher final course grade
welfare” (pp. 179–180). Service learning, which integrates and scored higher on a self-report of learning and on a num-
community-based, hands-on service into an organized ber of markers of personal change (e.g., awareness of social
course, is one pedagogical approach that encompasses a problems and personal responsibility) than did students in
number of these goals and has the potential to transform “traditional” sections (pp. 412–413).
both students’ intellect and their character. The value of service learning in enhancing academic skills,
Fundamentally different from volunteer work, service in increasing awareness of the diversity of humanity and the
learning emphasizes reciprocity by creating a learning oppor- complexity of human hardship, and in fostering one’s civic
tunity for students while also serving the needs of a commu- responsibility is both theoretically and empirically justified.
nity group or agency. Both elements—service and In this article, I provide a description of a service-learning
learning—are highlighted: “The service reinforces and project that I implemented in an introductory psychology
strengthens the learning, and the learning reinforces and course as well as a descriptive evaluation of the project. The
strengthens the service” (Cooper, 1996a, p. 1). Moreover, discussion focuses on recommendations for service learning
community service often follows a charity-based model in based on the students’ evaluations and my experiences.
Vol. 28, No. 1, 2001 5
The Service-Learning Project Table 1. Service-Learning Placements for
During the Fall 1997 semester students enrolled in my sec- Placement Description
tion of General Psychology completed either a service-learn-
American Indian Center Assistance with daycare for
ing project or a research project as part of the course Daycare preschool-age children from
requirements. At the beginning of the semester I explained low-income backgrounds
the requirements of each project and provided students inter- Campus Kidsa One-on-one mentoring for at-risk
ested in service learning with a complete written description elementary school children
of the project, along with a list of possible agencies with Center Pointe Classroom support for living and
recreational skills development for
whom the university’s service-learning coordinator had al- adults with disabilities
ready established relationships. Students secured their own Crisis Nursery Care of children in a temporary
placements and, with input from their agency supervisors, residence while families manage
completed their service-learning contracts, which specified crises
hours scheduled, learning objectives, and activities. Eastern State Hospital Recreation supervision of adults
living in a state psychiatric facility
Given the introductory nature of the course and students’
First Call for Helpa Phone support for individuals
time constraints, I required that students complete a mini- needing resources or who are in
mum of 15 hr across the semester. Their schedules, negoti- crisis
ated with agency supervisors, were flexible (e.g., 1 to 2 hr Habitat for Humanity Support for low-income or homeless
once a week, 3 to 4 hr twice a month) as long as both student individuals seeking housing
and agency needs would be met. To integrate their ser- Juvenile Detention Center Classroom support and library
supervision of adolescents in
vice-learning activities with class material, students drew on juvenile detention
their experiences during small and large group discussions KIDS, Inc. Tutoring and recreation supervision
around questions designed to complement their hands-on of adolescent boys in a
learning (described subsequently; see also the Appendix). At transitional living facility
the end of the term students wrote a final paper in which they L’Arche Group home support for adults with
integrated their experiences with specific topics from the Sacajewa Middle School Support in a resource room for
course. Finally, students completed a brief evaluation of their children with learning and
experiences, and agencies provided an evaluation of each of behavioral disabilities
the students placed with them. St. Mary’s Church Interaction with homeless families at
an overnight shelter
I graded the service-learning project based on three com-
Shriner’s Hospital Recreational therapy with
ponents: hours completed (minimum of 15), commit- hospitalized children
ment/professional conduct (e.g., being punctual and reliable, Women’s Drop-In Center Support for women at-risk (e.g.,
respecting the policies set forth by the agency, maintaining domestic violence, prostitution)
confidentiality), and students’ ability to integrate their expe- Youth Help Association Interaction with high-risk youth at an
riences with course material. Agencies reported the number emergency residence
of hours served and evaluated students’ conduct and contri- a
Long-term (e.g., more than one semester) placement.
bution to the agency. I evaluated the integration with course
material based primarily on students’ final papers.
internal reliability of the items. Three items such as, “This
project allowed me to apply course content to an experience
outside the classroom” measured academic learning process
Students’ Feedback (α = .71); four statements such as, “Everyone has a responsi-
bility to contribute to the improvement of their [sic] commu-
Of the 36 undergraduate students who completed the nity” assessed service ethic (α = .75); and three statements
course, 32 (89%) chose the service-learning instead of the re- such as, “The project site provided me with appropriate su-
search project. Students obtained placements at 15 agencies pervisory assistance” measured agency experience (α = .73).
ranging from a resource center for homeless and battered Descriptive statistics for each of the three constructs ap-
women to a home for adults with disabilities to the psychiat- pear in Table 2. Over 80% of the students believed that the
ric ward at a local state hospital (see Table 1). project enhanced their learning in the course, over 90% indi-
At the semester’s end all 32 students completed a 20-item cated that service learning had a positive impact on their
evaluation form developed by the service-learning sense of responsibility, and over 90% reported positive expe-
coordinator. The coordinator designed both scale-response riences with their agencies.
items and open-ended questions to evaluate issues ranging Perhaps more enlightening were students’ responses to the
from the impact of service learning on understanding course four open-ended questions. Using qualitative research strate-
material to what students liked least about the project. Stu- gies (see Rubin & Rubin, 1995), I examined these responses
dents responded to a series of statements using a 7-point scale for converging themes. The first question asked about the
ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 7 (strongly disagree) to assess most meaningful aspect of service learning. Several themes
the three constructs included in the following analyses: aca- were apparent. First, consistent with the goals of the project,
demic learning process, service ethic, and agency experience. a number of students indicated that the project enhanced
I averaged the scores across items measuring each construct their understanding of class material: “helped to understand
to produce one score and used Cronbach’s alpha to assess the and learn about mental illness.” Students also indicated that
6 Teaching of Psychology
Table 2. Descriptive Statistics for and drives my own pursuits were strengthened and renewed;
Academic Learning Process, Service Ethic, although psychology and social work are not my field of study,
and Agency Experience I truly think that I learned a lot about where I am going
through this experience.
Construct M SD
Academic learning process 83.9 2.33 .87 Another student stated that service learning “made me real-
Service ethic 93.5 1.74 .79 ize more fully the diversity of individuals in this world and the
Agency experience 93.5 1.74 .84 fact that each and every one of them has something worth-
Note. N = 31. Data from one student’s evaluation were excluded
while and meaningful to share.”
because of an apparent confusion about the rating scale. In sum, the students’ evaluations provided the overall im-
Students rated items measuring each construct by using a 7-point pression that the service-learning project was valuable. How-
scale ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 7 (strongly disagree); a score ever, from a research perspective the data can only be
of 3 or less was considered a positive endorsement of the item. interpreted descriptively. The absence of a pretest makes it
impossible to assess change over time, and the lack of a con-
the project gave them insight about themselves and about trol group precludes any causal conclusions. For example,
other people. The following are the words of a young woman even though most students in the class selected service learn-
who worked at the Women’s Drop-In Center: ing, students choosing this option may differ from other stu-
dents in a variety of ways (e.g., more committed to service,
The way these women have taught me about who they were more engaged academically). Thus, it is impossible to con-
and how they have come to be the strong women that they are clude whether service learning, itself, had an impact on the
was so inspiring to me, and I’m thankful that in such a short students or whether this group of students would be more
time such bonds were made. likely to endorse the value of service, for example, regardless
of the experience (see also Gray et al., 1996). Although
Finally, some students highlighted a heightened sense of causal conclusions cannot be drawn from this study, the de-
self-confidence as a result of the project: “I truly helped some scriptive ratings are consistent with those obtained in other
women, and this gave me a new sense of confidence.” descriptive and experimental studies (Batchelder & Root,
The second question asked what students liked least about 1994; Giles & Eyler, 1994; Gray et al., 1996; Markus et al.,
the project. Two general issues emerged. Predictably, a num- 1993). Additional research, particularly well-controlled ex-
ber of students focused on logistics, primarily scheduling and periments, is needed to further support the notion that ser-
transportation. Another large group of responses indicated vice learning yields positive outcomes.
concerns specific to the placement or to the stress inherent in
working in the mental health field: “I felt unprepared to deal
with some issues,” or as a woman working with the homeless Recommendations
stated: “that I was not able to do more—that you get to know
the families, and then you have to walk out of their lives and In addition to providing a preliminary evaluation of ser-
hope they make it.” vice learning, students’ responses revealed some of the chal-
The third question asked how students’ experiences re- lenges of incorporating this kind of a project into a general
lated to the course. Only 3 students (9%) indicated that the psychology class. Also, having offered a service-learning op-
experience did not relate well to the course. In contrast, 29 tion to my general psychology students for three semesters, I
students (91%) described specific connections to course ma- feel prepared to make some recommendations based on the
terial. The major theme here indicated that the experiences shortcomings I have witnessed and the changes I have imple-
illustrated concepts or issues discussed in class: “I saw a lot of mented. Readers may refer to Raupp and Cohen (1992) for
what we learned”; “It’s amazing to learn something and at the additional suggestions regarding the integration of volunteer
same time witness it happen.” experiences with class activities.
The final question invited students to reflect on how ser-
vice learning had an impact on their futures in terms of edu-
cational and career aspirations. Again, several themes were
apparent. Most students indicated that their experiences had
a direct impact on their career or educational goals: “The ser- First, and perhaps most obvious, well-organized and rele-
vice-learning project made this course 100% more interest- vant placements are imperative. My institution is privileged
ing. I do wish to pursue a degree in psychology, and the to have a full-time service-learning coordinator who identi-
project served to confirm that”; “I decided not to get into psy- fied many of the initial placements from a pool of agencies in-
chology.” Several students emphasized the importance of ser- dicating an interest in student volunteers. The coordinator
vice to the community and stated that they would continue then contacted the agencies to discuss with them the differ-
in their placement beyond the original semester or seek a vol- ences between volunteer service and service learning (see
unteer position in the future. Another group of students fo- Cooper, 1996a; Kendall, 1991) and to discuss the specific
cused on the impact service learning had on them personally; needs of the agency and the activities in which students
one student talked about her experience as a humbling one: would be involved. Next, the coordinator and I reviewed the
placements, ruling out those that I believed were less relevant
I found the educational drive of these women was in most to the course (e.g., sorting canned goods at the local food
cases stronger than mine and through their intense desires bank) or that required a large time commitment (e.g., Big
Vol. 28, No. 1, 2001 7
Brothers Big Sisters). Each of the remaining agencies ensured ficult. For these reasons, I made service learning an option
that students would experience direct interaction with either (the other option was completion of a literature review fo-
adults or children that would be relevant to at least some as- cused on a particular topic of their choosing). As noted previ-
pect of psychology (e.g., learning, cognition, human develop- ously, most students chose service learning. Additionally, I
ment, psychological disorders, stress and coping). Students required a minimum of 15 hr of service, flexibly scheduled,
also could create their own placements or create a ser- across the semester. Many students completed more hours,
vice-learning project out of a previous volunteer experience; but they could meet the minimum expectations for the pro-
these became possibilities for other students in subsequent ject without a huge demand on their time. For upper division
semesters. courses and seminars, an increased time commitment bal-
During the semester I assessed how well placements were anced appropriately with the demands of the course may
working; I asked students for formal, written feedback at the make more sense.
end of the semester, although I also solicited verbal feedback In addition to concerns about time constraints and sched-
regularly during class. The coordinator was the direct link to uling difficulties, students commented that transportation
the agency and did any troubleshooting. For example, one was sometimes a challenge. Placements within walking dis-
student worked on filing at her placement on a couple of oc- tance to campus were an ideal solution, and I reminded stu-
casions. Providing this kind of support for the agency once in dents about the public transportation system. Additionally,
a while may be a necessary part of the service, but the agency after students identified their placements, I circulated a list of
needed clarification about the student’s learning goals and students at each site; made sure they knew one another; and
activities, which had been specified on the student’s con- encouraged them to car pool, walk, or ride the bus together. I
tract. Additionally, placements that did not work were im- also reminded students to be vigilant about their safety.
portant to track. In a previous semester, a criminal justice Although service learning offers ideal opportunities to dis-
minor completed a placement at a neighborhood police sta- cuss critical issues relevant to therapeutic relationships such as
tion. She thought she would be dealing with people in crisis. privacy, confidentiality, and termination of relationships, real
In reality, she staffed the desk and phones, took reports of risks need to be recognized. One primary concern is risk to the
petty crimes, and had little to discuss in her final paper that individual seeking services. General psychology students
was relevant to the psychology course. should not provide counseling (one-on-one tutoring or
Next, facilitating connections between the students and mentoring under supervision is different). Additionally, be-
the agencies is necessary. To tell students, many of whom are cause required placements last just one semester, choosing
in their first year and new to the community, to “find a place- placements in which students are likely to form close relation-
ment” would be overwhelming. Two structures were in place ships with individual clients (e.g., Big Brothers Big Sisters pro-
to help students make these connections. First, I provided a gram) is not appropriate unless students are willing to make
list of placements from which students could choose several longer term commitments. It is important to make agencies
possibilities that fit with their interests and schedules. Stu- aware of the time limitations; several are only on my long-term
dents then could contact the agency directly. Second, my in- placement list. Regardless of the placement’s length, educat-
stitution regularly hosts a Community Service Fair at the ing students about their potential impact on someone’s life and
beginning of each semester. Anywhere from 30 to 60 repre- the importance of closure at termination is imperative.
sentatives from a variety of community agencies are invited Faculty must also be sensitive to students’ reactions to
to campus, and students can use this opportunity to gather what they might encounter. Interacting with a child from an
information about possible placements and to meet agency abusive background, talking to a woman battling a drug ad-
representatives; many of my students secured a placement diction, or getting to know a homeless family offers a powerful
through the fair. Students also could meet with the ser- learning opportunity. Many of these opportunities, however,
vice-learning coordinator for further assistance or to develop are completely foreign to the students’ range of experiences
a new placement. and may invoke a variety of feelings and responses. Indeed,
Finally, after having several students procrastinate about some students expressed their frustration about not being
finding a placement and then try to complete all of their able to do more for clients, a painful but real-life lesson about
hours in the last 3 weeks of the semester (which clearly com- working in the mental health field. I encouraged students to
promises the objectives of the project), I created a deadline talk with me or with their agency supervisors about questions
for the service-learning contract. Students who missed the or concerns. Small and large group discussions (conducted
deadline, set at about 3 weeks into the semester, had to com- with a reminder about confidentiality) can also help students
plete the alternate research paper. work through these experiences as can writing about them.
Reflection, as noted earlier, is a critical part of the ser-
Students’ Concerns vice-learning process (see Cooper, 1996b; Dunlap, 1998;
Kendall, 1991; Kobrin & Mareth, 1996; Morton, 1993).
Recognizing that students are busy, many have commit-
ments outside of school, and not all are interested in pursuing Faculty Concerns
a career in the mental health field, creating reasonable re-
quirements will enhance their experience. Indeed, when stu- One of the largest barriers for faculty in offering service
dents responded to what they liked least about the project, learning is time. Adding a service-learning component does
many commented that the demands on their time were mul- demand more time, which clearly varies depending on sup-
tiple and that scheduling with the agency was sometimes dif- port provided. Institutions without a formal service-learning
8 Teaching of Psychology
coordinator may employ an individual who organizes volun- suggest that fostering an appreciation for the call to service
teer efforts; this person could facilitate service-learning ini- inherent in the field of psychology is an important and laud-
tiatives. A number of grants are available to support faculty able goal for educators.
interested in developing service-learning courses; my univer- Moreover, as Franta (1994) discussed, service learning of-
sity’s service-learning coordinator was initially hired through fers other benefits that may have long-term impacts on stu-
a grant from Campus Compact (see Franta, 1994; Kobrin & dents’ educational and career paths. For example, students
Mareth, 1996; Kraft & Swadener, 1994; Montrose, 1994). may continue to volunteer at their agencies or receive employ-
However, even with the support of the service-learning coor- ment offers following the service period. A number of my stu-
dinator, my initial time investment was significant. I spent dents suggested that they would continue to volunteer; several
time developing and reviewing placements, creating the de- were offered paid positions. Students may make connections
scription and grading criteria for the project, and revising the with professionals in the mental health field who can act as
class discussion activities to include questions about stu- mentors and provide valuable resources (e.g., letters of recom-
dents’ service-learning experiences. I chose to keep the grad- mendation). Students assuredly gain experience working in
ing to a minimum. Instead of requiring a formal journal, I the field, and this experience can serve to either confirm or
asked students to integrate their service-learning experiences challenge their educational or career choices before they must
into responses to discussion questions already assigned for make more serious commitments. As noted previously, one
each chapter. Students used these responses for class discus- student indicated that as a result of his experience he “decided
sion and for exam preparation. Also, the final paper was lim- not to get into psychology”; another student stated that the
ited in terms of length (no more than five pages) and scope. I project confirmed her passion for the field.
recommended that students focus on one to three specific is- Service learning may not work for every teacher or be in-
sues covered in the course that were most relevant to their spiring to every student, and it may not best meet the educa-
placements and link their experiences to those issues. tional objectives of every class, although creative integrations
A second issue concerning time is how to balance ser- of service learning are numerous (see Ferrari & Jason, 1996;
vice-learning activities with the necessary coverage of the Kraft & Swadener, 1994). Additionally, further empirical
discipline. General Psychology is already a course that de- work is needed to clearly assess its benefits (Bradley, 1997).
mands coverage of a wide range of topics. Rather than de- However, I argue that service learning has the capacity to
velop a separate set of service-learning activities, I integrated transform lives, to touch the heart as well as the mind, and to
service-learning questions into the discussion activities I al- teach many valuable lessons beyond those that professors
ready employed. In both large and small group discussions, I provide within the confines of their classrooms.
asked students to use their service-learning experiences to il-
lustrate points, to provide examples, or to think more deeply
about different psychological issues and concepts (see the References
Appendix for sample questions). For example, during some
75-min class periods small group discussions typically took Anson, C. (1993). Learning about service learning. In T. Y. Kupiec
place following a 20- to 30-min lecture and lasted 10 to 15 (Ed.), Rethinking tradition: Integrating service with academic study on
min. We would spend an another 10 to 15 min as a large college campuses (pp. 77–81). Providence, RI: Campus Com-
group hearing one point, issue, or example from each of the pact/The Education Commission of the States.
small groups before moving on to additional lecture material. Batchelder, T. H., & Root, S. (1994). Effects of an undergraduate
In general, I find that the tradeoff between the time devoted program to integrate academic learning and service: Cognitive,
to discussion as opposed to lecture is worthwhile; the stu- prosocial cognitive, and identity outcomes. Journal of Adolescence,
dents remain engaged and by reflecting on their own experi- 17, 341–355.
ences make connections with the material that are often Bradley, L. R. (1997). Evaluating service-learning: Toward a new
paradigm. In A. S. Waterman (Ed.), Service-learning: Applications
more powerful than those made when I provide an example
from the research (pp. 151–171). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
or hypothetical case. Associates, Inc.
Brewer, C. L., Hopkins, J. R., Kimble, G. A., Matlin, M. W.,
McCann, L. I., McNeil, O. V., Nodine, B. F., Quinn, V. N., &
Conclusions Saundra. (1993). Curriculum. In T. V. McGovern (Ed.), Hand-
book for enhancing undergraduate education in psychology (pp.
161–182). Washington, DC: American Psychological Associa-
Widely recognized as an effective pedagogical approach is tion.
the integration of active, hands-on, experiential learning Cantor, J. A. (1995). Experiential learning in higher education: Linking
with the intellectual rigors of the academic classroom (Can- classroom and community (ASHE–ERIC Higher Education Rep.
tor, 1995; Kolb, 1984). Additionally, emphasizing the educa- No. 7). Washington, DC: George Washington University, Gradu-
tion of the whole person, character as well as intellect, has ate School of Education and Human Development.
received increased attention; as Anson (1993) stated: “We Cooper, M. (1996a). Four things faculty want to know about. In The
big dummy’s guide to service learning. The VAC. Retrieved March 6,
can move beyond the ‘me’ generations and into a new gener- 1996 from the World Wide Web: http://www.fiu.edu/~time4chg/
ation where the concept of ‘we’ matters, a generation just as Library/bigdummy.html
concerned about giving out its learning as it is with taking it Cooper, M. (1996b). Reflection: Getting learning out of serving. In
in” (p. 81). Indeed, this statement echos Miller’s (1969) con- The big dummy’s guide to service learning. The VAC. Retrieved
cern that psychology students be encouraged to “give psy- March 6, 1996 from the World Wide Web: http://www.fiu.edu/
chology away” (p. 1071). Consistent with Miller’s ideas, I ~time4chg/Library/bigdummy.html
Vol. 28, No. 1, 2001 9
Dunlap, M. R. (1998). Methods of supporting students’ critical re- Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (1995). Qualitative interviewing: The art of
flection in courses incorporating service learning. Teaching of Psy- hearing data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
chology, 25, 208–210.
Ferrari, J. R., & Jason, L. A. (1996). Integrating research and com-
munity service: Incorporating research skills into service learning Appendix
experiences. College Student Journal, 30, 444–451. Example Discussion Questions
Franta, P. (1994). Service-learning: A new priority for career cen-
ters. Journal of Career Development, 21, 131–134.
Giles, D. E., Jr., & Eyler, J. (1994). The impact of a college commu-
1. Describe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Where do the in-
nity service laboratory on students’ personal, social, and cognitive dividuals with whom you are working in your ser-
outcomes. Journal of Adolescence, 17, 327–339. vice-learning placement fit in terms of Maslow’s
Gray, M. J., Geschwind, S., Ondaatje, E. H., Robyn, A., Klein, S. P., model?
Sax, L. J., Astin, A. W., & Astin, H. S. (with Kaganoff, T., & 2. Describe the central developmental task facing each in-
Rosenblatt, K.). (1996). Evaluation of Learn and Serve America, dividual at each stage of the life span according to
Higher Education: First year report (Vol. 1). Washington, DC: Erikson’s psychosocial model. Think about individuals
RAND. with whom you are working in your service-learning
Halonen, J. S. (1992). “I was just lucky”: An interview with model placement; choose one individual and describe the de-
teacher Wilbert J. McKeachie. In A. E. Puente, J. R. Matthews, & velopmental task currently being faced by this person.
C. L. Brewer (Eds.), Teaching psychology in America: A history (pp.
219–257). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Speculate, in an informed way, about how the individ-
Kendall, J. C. (1991). Combining service and learning: An introduc- ual will resolve the current developmental crisis.
tion for cooperative education professionals. Journal of Cooperative 3. Apply each of the theoretical explanations of
Education, 27, 9–26. psychopathology to a case: the boy with conduct disor-
Kobrin, M., & Mareth, J. (1996). Service matters: A sourcebook for der (from the film shown in class), a case from your text,
community service in higher education (M. Smith, Ed.). Providence, or an example from your service-learning placement if
RI: Campus Compact/The Education Commission of the States. relevant.
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of 4. Changes in our social, political, and economic climates
learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. have had an impact upon treatment for psychological
Kraft, R. J., & Swadener, M. (Eds.). (1994). Building community: Ser- disorders. Describe deinstitutionalization. What would
vice learning in the academic disciplines. Denver: Colorado Campus
happen to the individuals with whom you have worked
Markus, G. B., Howard, J. P. F., & King, D. C. (1993). Integrating during your service-learning placement if the agency or
community service and classroom instruction enhances learning: institution were to no longer provide them with services?
Results from an experiment. Educational Evaluation and Policy
Analysis, 15, 410–419.
Miller, G. A. (1969). Psychology as a means of promoting human Notes
welfare. American Psychologist, 24, 1063–1075.
Montrose, L. (1994). Planning for a service-learning center on cam- 1. I thank Debra Greenwood, Gonzaga University’s former ser-
pus. In R. J. Kraft & M. Swadener (Eds.), Building community: Ser- vice-learning coordinator, for developing many of the place-
vice learning in the academic disciplines (pp. 15–21). Denver: ments along with the contract and evaluation forms described
Colorado Campus Compact. and used in this article. I also thank Nancy L. Worsham, Joy
Morton, K. (1993). Reflection in the classroom. In T. Y. Kupiec Milos, Sima Thorpe, Brett Hendricks, Randolph A. Smith, and
(Ed.), Rethinking tradition: Integrating service with academic study on several anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier
college campuses (pp. 89–97). Providence, RI: Campus Com- version of this manuscript.
pact/The Education Commission of the States. 2. Readers are invited to examine Gonzaga University’s Ser-
1997 teaching award winners. (1997). Teaching of Psychology, 24, vice-Learning Web site: http://www.gonzaga.edu/service/gvs/
Raupp, C. D., & Cohen, D. C. (1992). “A thousand points of light” 3. Send correspondence to Molly D. Kretchmar, Department of
illuminate the psychology curriculum: Volunteering as a learning Psychology, 502 East Boone, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA
experience. Teaching of Psychology, 19, 25–30. 99258; e-mail: [email protected]
10 Teaching of Psychology
Instructional Television Versus Traditional Teaching
of an Introductory Psychology Course
Steven F. Bacon
Julie A. Jakovich
California State University, Bakersfield
In this study we compared the effectiveness of an introductory psy- Wetzel, Radtke, & Stern, 1994; Whittington, 1987; Zigerell,
chology course delivered through instructional television (ITV) 1991) have continued to find no differences. Although fewer
with the same course taught in a traditional classroom. We com- studies have investigated the effects of ITV on attendance
pared 3 groups of undergraduates, with 83 receiving traditional and attrition, most have found no adverse effects on these
classroom instruction one quarter. The next quarter, new enrollees variables (Cohen et al., 1981; Whittington, 1987). Zigerell,
were split into 2 groups: One received instruction in an ITV studio however, found that attrition was a greater problem for some
with the instructor (n = 29); the second received televised broad- distant learners (e.g., those who were younger and less
casts in a remote classroom on campus (n = 29). The 3 instruc- self-motivated) than for others.
tional formats produced similar outcomes in performance, The effect of televised instruction on student attitudes to-
attrition, and attendance. Likewise, attitudes toward the course ward instructors, courses, and academic experiences has also
were favorable and rarely differed by format. Student attitudes to- been a target of research, and, as with the more objective
ward ITV were positively affected by exposure to the experience. measures, several studies have found no differences between
ITV and traditional students (Cohen et al., 1981). Some re-
searchers have reported that students prefer a traditional
Distance learning technologies hold promise for increas- classroom (Davis, 1984; Ritchie & Newby, 1989), but these
ing access to higher education for many people who, because studies are balanced by others suggesting students prefer tele-
of scheduling conflicts (e.g., working full time, taking care of vised courses over traditional ones (Zigerell, 1991). The more
children) or remoteness from a university, have been denied equivocal findings in this area may reflect the diversity of atti-
it. The fulfillment of this promise, however, rests on the abil- tudes assessed by different investigators.
ity of these diverse technologies to deliver a high quality A recent review commissioned by the American Federa-
product that compares favorably with a traditional university tion of Teachers and the National Education Association
education. One particular distance learning technology, in- (Phipps & Merisotis, 1999) may generate new and wider in-
structional television (ITV), first appeared more than 40 terest among educators in the evaluation of distance learning
years ago (Dubin & Hedley, 1969). In its simplest form, ITV technologies. This report, which received coverage in the
involves videotaping an instructor while he or she teaches a Chronicle of Higher Education (Blumenstyk & McCollum,
real or simulated class in a studio and transmitting these 1999), reviewed the literature on distance learning since
sounds and images, live or with some delay, through televi- 1990 and concluded that the number of empirical studies ad-
sion to remote learners. It is possible to add many features to dressing the effectiveness of distance learning was surpris-
this simple structure, including two-way telephone links, ingly small. Phipps and Merisotis further suggested “the
two-way interactive video (see Andrews, Gosse, Gaulton, & overall quality of the original research is questionable and
Maddigan, 1999), and computer-assisted, on-screen graph- renders many of the findings inconclusive” (p. 3). Although
ics. Initially an interesting application of a new and exciting they may have overstated their conclusions, these authors
technology in the 1950s, ITV has recently become resurgent reasonably challenged investigators to provide more rigorous
as a way of increasing educational access. With about two empirical research to address this important issue.
thirds of U.S. homes now wired for cable (U.S. Bureau of the The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness
Census, 1998) and many educational complexes now capable of an introductory psychology course taught through ITV
of sending and receiving closed-circuit, cable, and even satel- with the same course as it has been traditionally taught. Our
lite signals, ITV represents a potentially powerful educational quasi-experimental evaluation compared remote ITV stu-
technology. dents with traditionally taught students and with students
The most consistent finding comparing traditional class- who received live lectures in an ITV studio. In addition to as-
room instruction with ITV suggests no difference between sessing the effect of delivery format on the objective measures
the two in student achievement (Phipps & Merisotis, 1999). of performance, attrition, and attendance, we surveyed stu-
Reviews reflecting this conclusion date back to Dubin and dent attitudes that might be affected by the ITV format.
Hedley (1969), who looked at 381 studies from the 1950s and Based on our review of the literature, we expected no differ-
1960s. Reviews conducted since then (Clark, 1983; Cohen, ences in performance, attrition, attendance, or course satis-
Ebeling, & Kulik, 1981; Jamison, Suppes, & Wells, 1974; faction between ITV and traditionally taught students.
88 Teaching of Psychology
Method room’s overhead transparencies, and presented these over
the television monitors. An ITV technician in an adjoining
room filmed the lectures by controlling the movement of
Participants three cameras mounted in the ITV studio. The technician
decided which images (i.e., three views of the lecturer and
One hundred forty-one students participated in this study classroom, computer-generated slides, visual presenter) went
through enrollment in an introductory psychology course at out over the ITV cable at any given time. Students in the ITV
California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB). Students live condition essentially received a traditional classroom ex-
came from three different classes. One group of 83 students, perience supplemented by the technological advantages of
the traditional classroom students, enrolled in a Fall 1997 the ITV studio.
section of the course taught by the first author using a tradi- Students in the ITV remote condition met in an on-cam-
tional lecture and discussion format. The other two groups of pus classroom away from the ITV studio. These students re-
students came from two Winter 1998 sections taught by the ceived lectures via ITV cable transmission to two 32-in.
first author.1 On the first day of instruction, winter enrollees television monitors in the front of the classroom. A teaching
were given the option of receiving their lectures live, in the assistant or nonteaching instructor proctored quizzes and ex-
ITV studio with the instructor, or remotely in an on-campus ams, recorded attendance, monitored participation, main-
classroom wired to receive cable transmission from the stu- tained order, fixed technical problems, and kept small-group
dio. Twenty-nine students selected themselves into each of discussions on track. Students in this classroom were able to
the ITV conditions: ITV live and ITV remote. Students re- interact with the ITV instructor during lectures through an
mained in their selected condition throughout the quarter on-air telephone link to the ITV studio. However, technical
and could not attend the other section of the class. problems and time delays made this interaction difficult, and
Across the three conditions, 72.6% of the sample were this option was rarely exercised.
women, with no significant differences in gender composition
between conditions. The sample consisted of a heterogeneous
mix of undergraduate majors, with those who were undeclared Measures
representing the largest number of majors (26.7%), followed
by psychology (16.3%), biology (8.9%), and nursing (8.1%). We assessed students across four broad outcome mea-
To assess whether our groups were comparable in scholastic sures: attrition, attendance, academic performance, and atti-
aptitude prior to taking the course, we compared three stan- tudes toward the course. Attrition, attendance, and
dardized aptitude scores: the nationally normed Scholastic performance data were easily extracted from course grade
Aptitude Test (SAT) and two California State University books.
freshman placement exams—the Entry Level Mathematics
test (ELM) and the English Placement Test (EPT). Attrition. We calculated attrition as the percentage of
students who completed one quiz in the second week of
Procedure classes but who failed to complete the course.
Attendance. We measured attendance in two ways.
Students in the traditional classroom condition received Most class sessions began with a quiz about assigned readings.
lectures in a 120-seat amphitheater lecture hall. In addition We calculated one measure of attendance, quiz attendance,
to lectures, which included overhead transparencies for au- as the percentage of possible quizzes completed; this measure
diovisual support, students participated in brief small-group represented attendance at the beginning of each class session.
discussions and were encouraged to ask questions and seek Because a small number of students chose to leave class after
clarification during lectures as needed. taking their quiz, we also collected a second measure of atten-
Students in the ITV live condition received lectures in an dance. Most sessions concluded with participation exercises,
ITV studio with seating for 40. As in the traditional class- usually small-group discussions, for which students received
room, ITV live students participated in brief small-group dis- points. The percentage of participation exercises completed,
cussions and were encouraged to interact with the instructor called participation attendance, represented a good estimate
as needed during lectures. The studio was equipped with a of attendance at the end of each class session.
computer and an Elmo visual presenter (Model EV–400 AF,
Elmo Manufacturing Corp., Chatsworth, CA) an overhead Performance. We assessed overall performance in the
projector that can present three-dimensional stimuli onto a course as the percentage of possible points that a student
screen) connected to two 36-in. television monitors at the achieved. Students could receive points for quizzes, participa-
front of the classroom. The instructor created computer-gen- tion exercises, midterm examinations, an Internet assign-
erated slides, which were adaptations of the traditional class- ment, and a final examination.
Attitudes and satisfaction. Students at CSUB routinely
complete a standard questionnaire at the end of each course
A coinstructor gave lectures in 4 of the 20 class sessions in the asking about the quality of the course and its instructor. To
two ITV conditions. All course evaluation materials, however, were this questionnaire we added several items designed to assess
directed toward the primary instructor. students’ attitudes toward ITV. Students voluntarily and
Vol. 28, No. 2, 2001 89
anonymously completed the questionnaire, which used a summarizes participants’ responses to each questionnaire
5-point Likert scale of item endorsement ranging from 1 item. Although the Kruskal–Wallis statistic compares groups
(strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree). by ranks, Table 1 shows means for ease of interpretation.
Items 1 through 5 assessed students’ attitudes toward the
instructor, Items 6 through 10 assessed attitudes about the
Results course and instructional processes, and Items 11 through 15
assessed students’ social comfort and sense of university com-
Comparability of Groups munity. Of these 15 items, only 2 discriminated between ITV
remote students and those receiving live instruction: one
We used an alpha level of .05 for all statistical tests. tapping students’ perceptions that the instructor “really
ANOVAs comparing the groups on scholastic aptitude cared about me” and the other assessing the value of in-class
showed no differences for SAT scores, F(2, 81) = 0.83, ns; activities. The last 5 items of the survey assessed students’ at-
ELM scores, F(2, 109) = 0.21, ns; or EPT scores, F(2, 97) = titudes toward technology and its use in the classroom. Stu-
2.40, ns.2 These findings suggest that our three groups were dents in all three conditions held favorable opinions toward
roughly equivalent for scholastic aptitude and that self-selec- educational technologies. Interestingly, students who partici-
tion did not bias our sample with respect to this important pated in ITV, either in the live or remote condition, held
variable. more favorable attitudes toward ITV than those who did not.
Attrition, Attendance, and Performance Discussion
Attrition rates were low for all instructional formats inves- Consistent with previous studies, there were few differ-
tigated. Rates were 4.8%, 3.4%, and 3.4% for the traditional ences in objective outcomes between introductory psychol-
classroom, ITV live, and ITV remote conditions, respec- ogy students who received instruction from a live lecturer
tively. Differences between groups were not significant, χ2(2, and those who received ITV instruction. Level of achieve-
N = 141) = 0.16, ns. All subsequent analyses used only stu- ment was similar across all instructional formats. In addi-
dents who completed the course. tion, we did not find the higher levels of attrition that have
We conducted three separate ANOVAs to investigate the been found in some past comparisons with distance learners
effects of instructional format on performance and the two (Zigerell, 1991). We did, however, find a small but signifi-
measures of attendance. There were no differences in the cant difference between groups for participation atten-
percentage of total points achieved among students in the dance, favoring students in the traditional classroom.
traditional classroom (M = 74.44, SD = 13.42), the ITV live Nevertheless, because the two ITV conditions were simi-
(M = 74.87, SD = 12.64), and the ITV remote (M = 74.65, larly affected, the effect could not have been due to live
SD = 9.76) conditions, F(2, 132) = 0.01, ns. Likewise, in- versus televised instruction. A possible explanation for this
structional format had no effect on quiz attendance, F(2, result lies with a confounded variable: The traditional class
132) = 1.38, ns. There were, however, differences among the met in the morning, the two ITV sections in the late after-
three groups in participation attendance, with students in the noon. To the extent that fatigue or home obligations (e.g.,
traditional classroom attending a greater percentage of the parents picking children up from school) play a role in stu-
time (M = 85.70, SD = 13.48) than ITV live (M = 77.20, dent absence, we might expect more early departures from
SD = 20.46) and ITV remote students (M = 75.82, SD = late afternoon classes.
16.45), F(2, 132) = 5.63, p < .01. A Student– For most of the attitudes assessed, including views on the
Newman–Keuls follow-up test showed that the ITV live and instructor, the course structure, the social academic environ-
ITV remote groups did not differ from one another in partici- ment, and general feelings toward technology in the class-
pation attendance. room, students held equally positive opinions across the three
instructional formats. Two exceptions to this finding (Items 5
and 8) illustrate the continuing need to work toward distance
Attitudes and Satisfaction
learning solutions that include both high tech and “high
touch” (i.e., relationship-based; Naisbitt, 1984) components.
Total sample sizes for student questionnaire responses The clearest attitudinal finding in this study, mirroring
were smaller than those for performance and attendance an earlier observation by Wetzel et al. (1994), was that stu-
analyses, ranging from 73 to 86, owing to different data col- dents’ feelings about ITV were positively affected by expo-
lection procedures. Because participant responses to attitude sure.3 We did not address how exposure changed attitudes
questionnaires did not approximate a normal distribution, in this study. Perhaps unrealistic negative expectations were
items were analyzed using the Kruskal–Wallis one-way
ANOVA by ranks statistic, H, corrected for ties. Table 1
An interesting complementary finding to ours is that faculty who
Transfer students from junior colleges and some exempted fresh- have taught an instructional television course report enjoying the
men were not required to take these tests, which accounts for the experience and wishing to do it again (Kendall & Oaks, 1992)—per-
smaller sample sizes. haps also an exposure effect.
90 Teaching of Psychology
Table 1. Student Attitudes About an Introductory Psychology Course by Instructional Format
Item Traditional TV–L TV–R H
1. I would recommend this instructor. 1.33 1.38 1.32 0.02
2. The instructor seemed enthusiastic about teaching the subject. 1.31 1.35 1.29 0.46
3. The instructor was supportive of students and not insulting or intimidating. 1.31 1.17 1.50 2.56
4. The instructor gave clear and helpful explanations. 1.50 1.54 1.60 0.01
5. The instructor really cared about me as an individual student. 1.82 1.75 2.56 6.50*
6. I would recommend this course. 1.36 1.58 1.37 0.67
7. The lectures helped me learn about psychology. 1.26 1.24 1.59 5.57
8. The in-class activities helped me learn about psychology. 1.55 1.76 2.19 8.48**
9. Discussions with other students in this class helped me learn about 2.21 2.29 2.23 0.07
10. I looked forward to class sessions. 1.86 2.12 2.43 5.05
11. The class had a sense of community and I felt like a part of the group. 2.31 1.94 2.19 1.01
12. When I had questions during class, I felt comfortable asking them. 2.14 2.47 2.30 0.86
13. When I had questions or concerns outside of class, I felt comfortable talking 1.74 1.81 2.21 3.74
to the instructor.
14. I was able to meet new people in this class. 1.83 1.82 1.95 0.15
15. Cal State seems like a good place to get an education. 1.68 1.88 1.95 0.63
16. I look forward to more opportunities to learn using technology (e.g., 1.95 2.29 2.14 1.04
televised instruction, computer-assisted instruction, Web-based courses).
17. In general, I like trying out new technologies (e.g., computers, the Internet, 1.81 2.00 2.00 1.11
18. I (expect that I would) learn better in a regular classroom than through 1.73 2.57 2.68 9.63**
19. (I expect that) the instructional television format was (would be) easy to get 2.64 2.00 1.95 8.73**
20. I would like to take (more) courses through instructional television.c 3.36 2.25 2.43 12.81**
Note. Values are mean ratings where 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neutral, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree. Traditional = traditional
classroom format; TV–L = instructional television format with live instructor; TV–R = instructional television format viewed from a remote classroom.
df = 2. bWording of item answered by TV participants. Parenthetical text added for traditional participants. cWording of item answered by traditional
participants. Parenthetical text added for TV participants.
*p < .05. **p < .01.
disconfirmed or technological challenges were more easily Our experience suggests that ITV can be an effective for-
mastered than expected—we do not know. Future work di- mat for teaching an introductory psychology course. Despite
rected toward understanding this exposure effect might the fears of some educators, our study and the literature in
prove useful in helping students prepare to be successful this area, imperfect as it may be (Phipps & Merisotis, 1999),
distance learners. suggest that students are not adversely affected by this alter-
Although this study was mostly consistent with prior native mode of teaching. In fact, our attitudinal data suggest
work in the area, it is important to recognize its limitations. that among the barriers to more frequent use of ITV may be
Ours was a quasi-experimental design in which ITV partici- ignorance and anxiety; students who try ITV often surprise
pants selected themselves into the live or remote condi- themselves and find that they like it.
tions. Although we showed there were no preexisting
differences in scholastic aptitude among our participants, it
is possible that other uncontrolled participant variables may References
have influenced our results. In addition, our study did not
address the cumulative effects of instructorless courses, the Andrews, E.-A., Gosse, V. F., Gaulton, R. S., & Maddigan, R. I.
cost-effectiveness of distance learning approaches, or the (1999). Teaching introductory psychology at a distance by
importance of matching instructor characteristics (e.g., en- two-way interactive video. Teaching of Psychology, 26, 115–118.
thusiasm) with teaching media (e.g., ITV). We would ex- Blumenstyk, G., & McCollum, K. (1999, April 16). 2 reports ques-
tion utility and accessibility in distance education. Chronicle of
pect our results to generalize best to other introductory
Higher Education, 45(32), p. A31.
psychology courses televised to distant, supervised class- Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media.
rooms. Departments that must offer large sections of a Review of Educational Research, 53, 445–459.
course but do not have the large classrooms to do so might Cohen, P. A., Ebeling, B. J., & Kulik, J. A. (1981). A meta-analysis of
benefit from this sort of ITV. Likewise, departments wishing outcome studies of visual-based instruction. Educational Commu-
to broadcast courses to distant satellite campuses with nication and Technology Journal, 29, 26–36.
on-site teaching assistants or other classroom supervisors Davis, D. J. (1984). Evaluation and comparison of teleconference
might be interested in these results. Our research, however, training with face-to-face training and the effects on attitude and
is less informative regarding home learners’ abilities to ben- learning. Dissertation Abstracts International, 46(01), 130A.
efit from televised courses. Dubin, R., & Hedley, R. A. (1969). The medium may be related to the mes-
sage: College instruction by TV. Eugene: University of Oregon Press.
Vol. 28, No. 2, 2001 91