A big thank you to Svetlana Jovic for developing and sharing this assignment.
Are you teaching an introductory course and looking for a fun, dynamic assignment that inspires your students to take a creative journey into the history of psychology? Svetlana Jovic has shared a great approach to getting your students to think about the historical context of psychology along with how it relates to our world today.
This modular assignment asks students to create a “Year In Review” around the time of a key date in the history of psychology that helps explain the historical context of that key event. The “Year In Review” assignment can be used beyond intro courses and even beyond psychology coursework by modifying some of the specifics in order to fit whatever subject you’re teaching.
Some tips for helping students get creative with the assignment:
- On the day the assignment is due, have students bring in their newspapers and create a showcase in the classroom.
- Put up big signs with dates and put them in chronological order around the room.
- Each group presents their assigned era.
- Prompt the first few groups to think about the connection between a particular event in psychology and what was happening in the world at that time.
- After asking a similar question a few times, the rest of the groups start addressing it on their own.
- Finally, you can invite the rest of the class to ask questions and add to what the presenting group has already said. It gives everybody opportunity to show off their history and pop culture knowledge for that matter :)
Below you can see some examples from her previous classes and her instructions. Enjoy the news!
“Year In Review”: The Newspaper Assignment, Svetlana Jovic
This assignment is designed to give you some insight into the historical context surrounding famous events in psychology’s history. Working in groups of three, you should create a 3-4 page long “Year-in Review” newspaper that chronicles the important events in a year of importance to psychology. The newspaper must contain a minimum of three stories that have something to do with psychology; the remaining stories deal with other historical events during that year (political, economic, cultural, etc.). Each newspaper will be dated December 31 of the year chosen and will be structured as a special edition featuring the “Year in Review.” You can choose a year from the Key Dates list you can find below.
The goal of this assignment is for you, working in a three-person group, to produce a “newspaper” that chronicles the events during one of psychology’s “Key Dates.” The newspaper will include such topics as news features relating to events in psychology, book review, ads, obituaries, and anything else that emerges from the group’s collective creativity. A reader of your newspaper should learn something about what happened of importance to psychology in a particular year, and should also learn something about the historical context in which these events occurred.
There are no limitations in terms of the format of this assignment – you can create a Word document, a PowerPoint presentation, or something else. Just like any newspaper, it should have the substantial narrative in it, but feel free to also include photos, graphs, cartoons or anything else that will make the newspaper more effective.
Off you go now and have some fun with it! I very much look forward to reading your newspapers.
EXAMPLE KEY DATES
1900 Interpretation of Dreams
Sigmund Freud introduces his theory of psychoanalysis in The Interpretation of Dreams, the first of 24 books he would write exploring such topics as the unconscious, techniques of free association, and sexuality as a driving force in human psychology.
John B. Watson publishes "Psychology as Behavior," launching behaviorism. In contrast to psychoanalysis, behaviorism focuses on observable and measurable behavior.
1935 Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is founded by Bob Smith of Akron, Ohio. AA's group meetings format and 12-step program become the model for many other mutual-support therapeutic groups.
Kurt Koffka, a founder of the movement, publishes Principles of Gestalt Psychology in 1935. Gestalt (German for "whole" or "essence") psychology asserts that psychological phenomena must be viewed not as individual elements but as a coherent whole.
1946 The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children
Anna Freud publishes The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children, introducing basic concepts in the theory and practice of child psychoanalysis.
National Mental Health Act Passed
U.S. President Harry Truman signs the National Mental Health Act, providing generous funding for psychiatric education and research for the first time in U.S. history. This act leads to the creation in 1949 of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
1954 The Nature of Prejudice
Social Psychologist Gordon Allport publishes The Nature of Prejudice, which draws on various approaches in psychology to examine prejudice through different lenses. It is widely read by the general public and influential in establishing psychology's usefulness in understanding social issues.
1973 Homosexuality removed from DSM
After intense debate, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The widely used reference manual is revised to state that sexual orientation "does not necessarily constitute a psychiatric disorder."
1976 Evolutionary psychology
Richard Dawkins publishes The Selfish Gene, a work which shifts focus from the individual animal as the unit of evolution to individual genes themselves. The text popularizes the field of evolutionary psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are applied in research on human brain structure.
1979 Standardized IQ tests found discriminatory
The U.S. District Court finds the use of standardized IQ tests in California public schools illegal. The decision in the case, Larry P. v. Wilson Riles, upholds the plaintiff's position that the tests discriminate against African American students.
1990 Cultural psychology
In Acts of Meaning, Four Lectures on Mind and Culture, Jerome Bruner helps formulate cultural psychology, an approach drawing on philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology. Refined and expanded by Hazel Markus and other researchers, cultural psychology focuses on the influences and relationship among mind, cultural community and behavior.
2000 Sequencing of the Human Genome
Sixteen public research institutions around the world complete a "working draft" mapping of the human genetic code, providing a research basis for a new understanding of human development and disease. A similar, privately funded, project is currently underway.