The APA Principles for Quality Undergraduate Education in Psychology represents an important statement from the national disciplinary association during a time when undergraduate education in the United States is under much scrutiny from the public. This document follows several related major projects of the last decade that have focused on quality improvement in psychology education. For example, in 2005, the APA Council of Representatives approved the National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula (APA, 2005); approval of the revised National Standards occurred in 2011. In 2006, the APA Council of Representatives approved the APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (APA, 2007) to describe a set of optimal expectations for student performance at the completion of the baccalaureate degree. The APA Council of Representatives also received a Report on Teaching, Learning, and Assessing in a Developmentally Coherent Curriculum (APA, 2008). In 2008, APA convened the National Conference on Undergraduate Education in Psychology on the campus of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. As a result of these important initiatives and the deliberations at this conference, the BEA Steering Committee prepared this new set of APA Principles for Quality Undergraduate Education in Psychology.
A comprehensive introductory psychology course should be a prerequisite for all subsequent psychology courses. The introductory psychology course is one of the cornerstones of social science general education programs, and it should represent the entire field of psychology accurately and reinforce the basic premise that psychology is a scientific discipline. A quality curriculum in undergraduate education will also include an integrative/ capstone experience that allows students to see both the unity and differentiation of psychology's many subfields. There are many ways to achieve an integrative experience, including a course on the history and systems of psychology that allows students to trace the development of psychological thought, a contemporary issues approach in which current events are viewed from a psychological perspective, a senior-level overview course, or a research project in collaboration with a faculty member.
As teachers of a scientific discipline, psychologists need space and equipment for data collection and analysis, and students need laboratory courses that teach these skills. Adequate investments in laboratory space and equipment as well as routine upgrading of equipment, computers, and software are essential for a quality undergraduate education. Providing appropriate laboratory space and equipment for student learning and faculty research is a tangible commitment to the teaching and learning of psychological science. 153554b96e