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What do people learn in college? Are students fundamentally transformed by their college experience, and if so, what specific features of college actually make a difference? Most people’s ideas about the impact of college come from personal experience, and the strongly held views of journalists, filmmakers, college spokespeople, relatives and public figures. Those beliefs are often misguided. Yet research can help us develop an accurate picture of just what it is that college does and doesn’t do. Drawing on films, popular books and articles, as well as research from across the subdisciplines within psychology, we will examine some of the most common beliefs, and then delve into the psychological evidence that supports or refutes them. Our goal will be to develop a scientifically-based understanding of the psychological impact of college, and redesign various features of college to reflect our conclusions. Empirical work on this topic presents unique methodological challenges, so we will also spend some time designing studies that overcome those challenges.
Format: seminar; Students who are on-campus are encouraged to attend the seminar in person. Those who are unable to attend in person will join remotely. Students should expect several additional small group meetings outside the scheduled time period for additional discussions, to plan presentations, etc.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
weekly readings, leading two class discussions, and writing three 5-7 page papers
senior Psychology majors