In teaching undergraduate psychology, both new and experienced instructors are eager to find ways to engage students in learning and generate excitement for the subject matter. At the same time, instructors must balance these objectives with the need to:

  • align course content with APA-approved guidelines;
  • integrate instructional strategies with authentic or "real-world" learning and assessment; and
  • assess students' mastery of course content.

This valuable instructional resource presents a framework for constructing undergraduate psychology curricula to meet all of these objectives, while ensuring maximum flexibility across faculty, student, and institutional differences.

Promoting active and enduring learning within a constructivist educational context, this book links successful teaching practices to five APA-approved learning goals—knowledge base of psychology, research methods, critical thinking skills, application of psychology, and values—and the behaviorally stated outcomes associated with each.

Notably, this book demonstrates how to effectively gauge students' academic progress from the introductory psychology course through completion of the baccalaureate degree.

This authoritative volume will appeal widely to psychology educators—including high school teachers and undergraduate faculty from 2-year, 4-year, and university settings—who are committed to instructional innovation and improvement. Educators and their students will benefit from this systematic approach to course and program evaluation that integrates teaching, learning, and assessment in clearly identified and measurable terms.

Table of Contents



I. Systematic Examination of Psychology Curricula

  1. Psychology Curriculum Initiatives

II. What Is Constructivism?

  1. The Epistemological Roots of Constructivism
  2. Constructivist Educational Practice

III. Authentic Assessments Embedded in Constructivist Learning Assignments

  1. Case-Based Instruction
  2. Narrative Psychology
  3. Graphic Organizers as Learning and Assessment Tools
  4. Analogical Reasoning
  5. Cooperative Learning—Intersecting Cognitive and Social Constructivism

IV. What's Next?

  1. Constructivism Meets Instructional Technology
  2. The Future of Undergraduate Psychology Education



About the Author

Author Bio

Joseph A. Mayo, EdD, earned bachelor's degrees in psychology and political science from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and master's and doctoral degrees in educational psychology from West Virginia University in Morgantown. He is presently a professor of psychology at Gordon College in Barnesville, Georgia, where he has served in both administrative and faculty positions since 1989.

Dr. Mayo's classroom research on constructivist pedagogical applications has been published in various book chapters and peer-reviewed journals, including Teaching of Psychology, the Journal of Constructivist Psychology, and Constructivism in the Human Sciences. He also contributes regularly to Psychology Teacher Network—the quarterly newsletter of the American Psychological Association (APA) Education Directorate—and presents often at regional, national, and international teaching conferences.

Based on his ongoing commitment to the scholarship of teaching and learning, Dr. Mayo was chosen to receive a 2003 Board of Regents' Research in Undergraduate Education Award for the University System of Georgia and the 2005 Wayne Weiten Teaching Excellence Award of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2). In April 2005, he was selected to serve on the APA Board of Educational Affairs Task Force on Strengthening the Teaching and Learning of Undergraduate Psychological Science.

Reviews & Awards

Mayo is an accomplished psychology professor and an award-winning researcher. This book demonstrates his passion for blending in-depth research with practical classroom applications that provide the reader with a framework to increase student learning outcomes throughout the psychology curricula. This book belongs in the professional library of all psychology instructors who are committed to student learning and assessment.
—Mindy McCannon, EdD, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Rock Spring

Mayo is well-known for dozens of articles on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and here he has managed to provide a comprehensive overview of current teaching and learning issues within the history of teaching in his discipline. What distinguishes this work from so many pedagogical works is that Mayo has grounded his discussion in a thorough review of the literature and in his own pioneering studies of the assessment of learning associated with the strategies he suggests. Mayo presents complex theoretical discussions in a succinct manner and links them to specific examples of concrete practice. This book is one of the finest examples available of the scholarship of teaching and learning, and it would be useful not only for teachers of psychology but also for all professionals looking for a model of excellent research techniques in this area.
—Deborah Vess, PhD, Special Assistant to the Provost and Professor of History, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville

This book provides a wealth of useful and practical strategies for implementing APA's Guidelines for the Undergraduate Major in Psychology that will appeal to psychology faculty who are eager but uncertain how to redesign their courses and curricula. All of the strategies presented are solidly grounded in constructivist theory and are sensitive to developmental challenges students face as they progress from introductory to advanced courses in the major.
—Thomas P. Pusateri, PhD, Associate Director for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA