Sunday, April 3, 2016

How to train undergraduate psychologists to be post hoc BS generators

Teaching undergraduate psychology is difficult for a variety of reasons. Students come in with preconceived notions about what psychological research is and are sometimes disappointed with the mismatch between their preconceptions and reality. Much of what psychologists do is highly specialized and requires skills that are difficult to teach, and psychologists-in-training can't offer much research-wise until they have years of experience. The assignments we ask undergraduates to complete are meant to train their critical thinking skills to prepare them for a more substantive contribution to research. Sometimes, however, they do exactly the opposite; instead, assignments can reward post hoc BS generation rather than actual critical thinking.