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Making Lemonade: Personal Disrupting Educational Experiences

I am an experimental social psychologist by my graduate school training. Tonight I am in the process of preparing for my fall semester PSY303A “Experimental Social Psychology Class.” This year I am interested in giving it a more international/ global focus while at the same time preserving the course’s emphasis on the value in using the scientific method. I also want to imbue the course with technology learning tools that I have come to value.

I am entertaining beginning the class by having all students carefully read the article Coping with Chaos: How Disordered Contexts Promote Stereotyping and Discrimination. After we have carefully studied the experimental design, elegance of the the thinking, data analysis, and conclusions and practical implications I will have the students read the full report of the investigation of Stapel’s fraudulent data collection here and his explanations of why he falsified data.

The challenge is how to avoid undermining students’ belief in the validity of psychological science while at the same time confronting the reality that science is a human endeavor. I found the Stapel malfeasance most disruptive to my own professional identity (and I am not alone.) How can I make that disruption a positive thing, especially for my students?

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