The New Prep 3: The Self-Management Project

In the previous post in this series, I described more behind-the-scenes of the new PSYCO 282: Behavior Modification course, and how I chose the textbook for it.

Now that I had finally decided on the textbook for PSYCO 282, there was something I had to do: contact Keyano College. Wait--some background first.

When any institution in Alberta makes a curriculum change, there are consequences that affect other post-secondary institutions. You may have heard the term “Campus Alberta” recently. It’s actually something that’s been around for a while, most notably in the form of the Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer. At the ALIS (Alberta Learning Information Service) website you can find out if a course you took at institution A can be transferred for credit to institution B.

In killing PSYCO 281 and replacing it with PSYCO 282, the UofA made a change that would affect all other post-secondary institutions that taught PSYCO 281. All institutions work closely together to ensure that students can transfer courses smoothly (if anyone claims that it’s too hard for students to transfer credits from one institution to another in Alberta, well, he’s wrong).

And that brings me back to Keyano. Our Department received an email from Keyano College in Fort McMurray, asking for more information about the course (admittedly, course descriptions are fairly vague). This request had been passed on to me in November, 2012, and I worked hard to ignore it--mostly because I didn’t have much to show yet. No syllabus or learning objectives; I hadn’t even chosen a textbook. But by January, 2013, I had a textbook, at least.

I finally replied to Keyano and set up a meeting with the psychology instructor who was going to be teaching Keyano’s version of PSYCO 282, Jady Wong. You know, there’s nothing like a deadline to motivate you to get your act together. Especially if you’ll end up looking like a fool if you miss the deadline. By the end of February, I had a syllabus and a long (incomplete) list of learning objectives to show Ms Wong.

In our meeting, we both decided that it would be interesting to include a self-management project for students as part of our courses. Other people, from my teaching assistant to the Department Chair talked fondly about having done a self-management project in a b-mod course. OK, so it wasn’t an original idea, but it was still a good one. Not only would students gain book-learnin’ about b-mod, but they’d also apply those principles to one of their own behaviours, FTW! This could work on a number of levels:
  • students put principles and procedures into practice, instead of just passively hearing/reading about them (active learning!)
  • students have to apply what they’ve learned, which is another kind of educational skill (Bloom’s taxonomy of learning objectives!)
  • students submit written reports on their progress (enhancing writing skills!)
  • students apply b-mod to their own lives, not a hypothetical client (elaborative encoding!)
  • students can improve their lives by decreasing an undesirable behaviour or increasing a desired behaviour (improving your life!)
The possibilities are endless: stop smoking, exercise more, greater duration of sexua--stopstopstop. What? Er, maybe the possibilities shouldn’t be quite so endless. I’d like to say that I came to realize this on my own but I have to credit Dr Peter Hurd, the Associate Chair (Undergraduate), with giving me the figurative tap on the shoulder. Also, thanks to Dr Tom Johnson for looking over the ethical considerations I worked into the project and Kerrie Johnston for helping with the legal aspects. (Legal. Yikes.)

There was just one more thing. Shouldn’t I, too, apply b-mod to my own life? To demonstrate that it works on me, too? To show that it’s safe, and won’t turn you into a lunatasdfsiruth20010110101001--

Heh. But seriously. Wouldn’t it be neat if I could show my students that even I could apply b-mod to my own life? And how about: in the making of the course itself? Yeah, very meta.

Coming up next: The New Prep 4: The Writing.

Why aren’t you studying?


Anastasia said...

It would be neat and you should do it and I will be patiently waiting for an update about how it turned out.

Anonymous said...

just posting a comment so you know I'm reading the blog and enjoying it!

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