Enriching a Survey Course in Educational Psychology through a Team Teaching Format

Article excerpt

Educational psychology is a far ranging discipline that focuses on the student, the teacher, the classroom and the teaching/learning process. The challenge of an introductory course in educational psychology is to familiarize the student with both theory and application in such diverse areas as human growth and development, learning, personality development, motivation, measurement and classroom management. This creates a problem for faculty members who seemingly must have expertise in all of these areas. While most, if not all, educational psychology faculty certainly have some familiarity with all these topics, in most cases, their expertise will be limited to a few of the topics closely related to their specialization or area of research. This often results in a course that focuses on the faculty member's research and superficially touches on other essential topics. Obviously this can result in significant gaps in student learning. A team teaching approach has been found to be very useful in resolving this problem. Team teaching is a method that has been successfully utilized in a wide range of subject areas, including optometry, women's studies, anthropology, economics and psychology (Heath, Carlson & Kurtz, 1987; Toomey & Eldridge, 1982; Plotnicov, 1985; Lindaver, 1990; Flanagan & Ralston, 1983). This article describes the team teaching approach used at The University of Montevallo in an introductory educational psychology course. The course, while open to all students, is taken primarily by junior teacher education majors.

Logistics

Each of four full time faculty members in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology is assigned one section of this course as part of his/her regular teaching load. Two of the sections are scheduled at 9:00 A.M. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and two are scheduled at 11:00 A.M. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Each sections has a maximum enrollment of 30 students. The sections which meet at the same hour are then combined, thus producing two classes of 50-60 students, one at 9:00 A.M. and the other at 11:00 A.M.

Prior to the beginning of each semester, the Educational Psychology team meets to plan a schedule for the semester. After a review and updating of the curriculum each team member selects topics most appropriate for his/her areas of expertise. In addition, the calendar is planned such that no faculty member is scheduled to teach on a day when he/she might have other conflicting professional responsibilities. Some days involve just one faculty member who would on that day teach at both the 9:00 A.M. and 11:00 A.M. hours thus meeting all four sections on that day. Other class days may involve two faculty members while others may require the presence of the entire team. As part of the syllabus, each student receives a schedule showing the topic to be covered each day, the appropriate reading assignment for that topic and which faculty member(s) will be in class that day.

Tests are constructed by creating a table of specifications from the topics discussed during the period covered by the tests. Each faculty member is responsible for writing test questions for his/her sessions. The grade in the course is based on the scores on four exams, each covering one-fourth of the course, plus an application level comprehensive final exam. The exam covering the final one-fourth of the course and the comprehensive final are given together on the final exam date. Each exam consists of fifty multiple-choice questions, thus the total possible points is 250. Letter grades are assigned based on a norm-referenced cluster system. Students are also given the opportunity to earn extra credit points through participation in several optional projects. Each faculty member is responsible for the grades of students in her/his section.

Advantages

The chief advantage of the team teaching approach is the resolution of the problem mentioned at the beginning of this article. …