Our undergraduate curriculum is rooted in Boston College’s liberal arts education; our students reflect on the human condition from varied perspectives as they learn about seminal findings and discuss cutting-edge discoveries in psychology and neuroscience. Faculty balance the teaching and mentorship of our students with the conduct of world-class research, providing our students with ample opportunities to learn by doing and to experience scientific discovery first-hand.
Students have three options for majors within our department: The Psychology B.A. is the most flexible major, well suited to students who wish to pursue a minor in another area or to embrace the range of elective courses offered at the University. The Psychology B.S. and Neuroscience B.S. are designed for students who desire a more research-focused approach to psychological science. The Neuroscience B.S. is designed for those students who are interested in how the brain gives rise to thought and behavior; those who are interested in the many other facets of psychology—including a research-based approach to developmental, social, or abnormal psychology—are encouraged to pursue the Psychology B.S.
Beyond their coursework, undergraduate students become integrated into our department in many ways, including their participation in independent research, clinical internships, and senior theses; through participation in departmental colloquia and workshops; through participation in outreach events to children, young adults, and older adults; and by showcasing their knowledge and learning from other students at the research fairs and the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference.
Goals and Student Learning Outcomes for Core Courses
Goal 1. Students will acquire a basic understanding of the topics studied and the methodologies used in the field of psychology.
Learning Outcome 1a: Students will be able to demonstrate a general knowledge of theories, concepts, and findings in at least one sub-field of psychology.
Learning Outcome 1b: Students will understand better some of the different methodological approaches, paradigms, and technologies that have been used to study psychological processes.
Goal 2. Students will gain critical thinking and writing skills and put them to use through the process of scientific inquiry.
Learning Outcome 2a: Students will be able to consider competing hypotheses and to understand how data can adjudicate among those hypotheses.
Learning Outcome 2b: Students will be able to evaluate critically contemporary data relating to psychology including media claims and graphical depictions of data.
Learning Outcome 2c: Students will be able to summarize psychological theory and research in concise accurate scientific writing.
Goal 3. Students will acquire a better understanding of how psychological research methods are used to address perennial questions in psychology.
Learning Outcome 3a: Students will be able to see how psychological study is complementary to other approaches to understanding and reflecting on the human condition.
Learning Outcome 3b: Students will be able to express how the material learned is relevant to aspects of their daily lives, such as their behaviors and their interactions with others.
Goal 4. Students will acquire skills to help them succeed in their personal and community lives after graduation.
Learning Outcome 4a: Students will be able to demonstrate an appreciation of the ethical issues involved in human or animal research.
Learning Outcome 4b: Students will be able to understand better themselves and others.
Goals and Student Learning Outcomes for Major Courses
The department has identified four primary learning goals for its undergraduate majors. Each goal is associated with several student learning outcomes.
Goal 1. Students will acquire a knowledge of the sub-fields of psychology in a manner that reflects both breadth and depth of understanding.
Student Learning Outcome 1a. Students will be able to demonstrate general knowledge of the theories, concepts, and findings of each of the sub-fields of psychology.
Student Learning Outcome 1b. Students will be able to demonstrate expertise in one specific area in psychology.
Goal 2. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills to read research reports critically and to carry out their own independent research.
Student Learning Outcome 2a. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of basic statistical applications in psychology including appropriate ways of describing data and the issues involved in inferring from a sample to a population.
Student Learning Outcome 2b. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the basic methodologies used in psychological research and to evaluate critically the research design of an experiment.
Student Learning Outcome 2c. Students will be able to review the literature on a topic and frame the next question to be answered or problem to be solved and show an appreciation of the value of programmatic research.
Student Learning Outcome 2d. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the necessary laboratory techniques and procedures in their area of focus.
Student Learning Outcome 2e. Students will be able to demonstrate anappreciation of the ethical issues involved in human and animal research.
Goal 3. Students will acquire critical, scientific thinking skills.
Student Learning Outcome 3a. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for the need for rigor and healthy skepticism when making scientific arguments and drawing conclusions from data.
Student Learning Outcome 3b. Students will be able to evaluate critically the conclusions that are drawn concerning the causal relationship among variables, particularly the problems associated with correlational data and the need to isolate the effect of an independent variable.
Student Learning Outcome 3c. Students will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a scientific argument, including issues of validity, reliability, power, and operational definition.
Goal 4. Students will acquire skills to succeed in their professional, personal, and community lives after graduation.
Student Learning Outcome 4a. Students will be able to compete successfully for admission to graduate school in psychology and related fields and to succeed in their graduate training.
Student Learning Outcome 4b. Students will be able to succeed better in their chosen professions.
Student Learning Outcome 4c. Students will be able to communicate effectively in writing.
Student Learning Outcome 4d. Students will be able to understand themselves and others better.
Student Learning Outcome 4e. Students will be able to assume better the responsibilities of membership in their community.