What Makes a Psychology Degree Program Innovative?

According to college search sites, things that make a psychology degree innovative are purported to be a well-published faculty, promoting the value of diversity, and offering some courses online. While these are important aspects to any quality university program, they offer too narrow of a view of innovation to be truly valuable to people looking for a quality, innovative psychology degree. Innovation requires something more than just repackaging the traditional theories, perspectives, and pedagogies. True innovation in a university program requires a structure and paradigm that moves students from the theoretical foundations through to an individuated demonstrable outcome which sets students up as professionals in their own right. So what makes a psychology degree program innovative?

Focus on the Foundation

Every program has foundational courses that are prerequisites to higher level or specialized courses, yet the foundation is often just presented as lectures and exams. An innovative psychology degree program will lay the foundation and then build the competent professional on that foundation. This can be done through a cohesive structure of project-based learning and portfolio assessment. By using a cohesive project-based structure, students are able to build on their theoretical foundation to develop the professional skills of critical thinking and problem solving.

Pedagogic Paradigm of Personalization

Innovation in higher education means moving beyond lecture-style course structure where the seat-time and final exam determines who gets to move on, and who is moved out of the program. Everyone has known students in classes who can take exams and pass them without studying, while other students fail exams because they misunderstand the multiple choice questions. An innovative psychology degree program offers more to students than just memorization and guessing correctly on an exam.

An innovative program recognizes the value of higher order thinking skills and the value of personalization in both instruction and in assessment. The power of a personalization paradigm is that students build their own depth and breadth of expert knowledge, as well as develop the critical soft skills that are needed as professionals. Personalization, as opposed to differentiation or individualization, provides the psychology program with the flexibility to accommodate and support all students regardless of specialization or research interests.

Building Pragmatic Professionalism

An innovative psychology degree program builds professionalism by design from the very first course all the way through the final assessment. There are many methods to build professionalism and every method includes a high-tech component to it. Professionals are expected to communicate, consult, and collaborate via electronics regardless of their physical location to their clients. Whether you are using a Computer-Assisted Psychotherapy Program or just collaborating on neuropsychological research, technology plays a part. An innovative psychology degree program will include the gamut of technology in courses and project so that all students will graduate as technology-proficient professionals. Utilizing technology for personalized, innovative education is the cutting edge of instruction, such as using virtual reality and scripted bots for clinical courses. Professionalism must be developed over the course of time, and there is no better time for students to build these soft skills and technology skills than during their degree program.

What should you look for in an innovative psychology degree program? True innovation is student-centered, personalized, and builds on the foundation of psychology giants to bring forth truly capable professionals.


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