Introduction to Psychology: make it compulsory
The “Introduction to Psychology” (ITP in the following cases) course has already been included in the selective courses for students not majoring in psychology in Fudan University. It is better to make ITP a compulsory course as it meets with the needs of undergraduates in the sense of their individual lives as well as their academic advancement, and if carried out, it will make students more attentive and lead to better pedagogical results.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “psychology” is a scientific discipline that studies mental processes and behavior in humans and other animals. Not only students majoring in psychology need its introductory courses, but students from other majors should also have access to it. As most undergraduates in Fudan are not fully equipped with scientific approaches to mental health of individuals, the ITP course is helpful for them in providing them with adequate information and guidance when it comes to dealing with their mental problems.
In Fudan, the pressure from intense academic competition and strained social relationships has made more and more students suffer from mental problems such as depression. Tom Burns has put it in his Psychiatry, a Very Short Introduction that “Depression is the commonest psychiatric disorder and affects about 15 per cent of us in our lifetime. The World Health Organization ranks it second to heart disease as a cause of lifelong disability worldwide.” The negative effect of depression is usually destructive both to the students’ physical state of health and to their academic advancement. In extreme cases, students who lack proper approaches to soothe themselves out of depression will have the tendency to resort to suicide or homicide which is definitely pitiful. In his work, Burns describes the symptoms of depression as follows:
... accusations that Prozac incites violent behavior (Mental Health, web). Conclusion Major depression is considered to be the most ... self-devaluation + social withdrawal → more biological change that facilitates depression” (Meyer, 2009, p. 111). Moreover, his ... In fact, more severe conditions can lead to clinical depression that can affect individuals psychologically, biologically, emotionally, and ...
…Tensions and anxiety are very common, sleep is disturbed, and patients lose weight and find themselves unable to concentrate properly or get on with things. Tearfulness and thoughts of suicide are common and aches, pains, and health worries frequent…
As can be seen from above, the urgency of reducing (to reduce) bad effects caused by mental problems among students are not to be neglected.
Although the awareness was aroused for some of the students, most of them, especially those who are not majoring in psychology, incline to employ methods that are not at all scientific when it comes to dealing with their mental health conditions, thus their mental problems are not reduced properly. When stressed out, most students simply turn to pop psychology which they have easier access to. By consulting unauthorized psychological readers or casting their horoscope, they hope to find solution to their mental problems, to divert their attention from the situation or to seek solace from the process itself. On one hand, pop psychology is easier for most students to turn to when mentally disturbed and it has almost become an integral part of the their leisure activities; on the other, as the methods which pop psychology employs are not scientific, the effects of pop psychology as being solution-driven are rarely positive. When talking about the importance to be（of being） exposed to authorized knowledge in the field of psychology, Richard J. Gerrig and Philip G. Zimbardo put it this way in their famous work Psychology and Life：
Studying psychology will help you make wiser decisions based on evidence gathered either by you or by others. You should always try to apply the insights you derive from your formal study of psychology to the informal psychology that surrounds you…
... , and so the humanistic approach uses methods that are not scientific. The issue of psychology as a science is cloudy. On the one ... applied, remain firmly in theory and cannot be tested, they ... ;. Many of Freud’s theories are not able to be tested, and many of his studies, because empirical measures cannot be ...
According to them, students need to become discriminating observers by having access to the academic field of psychology so as not to be misled by other kinds of unauthorized versions. Thus for Fudan students, there will be no better way to provide them with this exposition of knowledge than making the ITP course compulsory for all majors.
As the ITP course itself is not designed either for Students of Sciences or Students of Humanities, there is no need to worry about the course being too exclusive. After all, it is an introductory course. Lecturers of ITP can employ pedagogy from both social sciences and humanities. They can mainly introduce its neuropsychological approaches and its scientific research methods that cater to the interests of Students of Sciences in a class that most students are so, whereas focusing on the development and different categories of psychology or introducing the most influential schools and their main theories to a class of which most students are majoring in humanities. For Science Students, the research methods and the experimental approaches, such as the method of controlling variables, bear general applications to other branches of sciences, so they will feel a sense of familiarity being exposed to psychology as a scientific branch of studies. Such is also the case for students majoring in humanities: the knowledge of psychology can be associated with academic fields involving philosophy, aesthetics and literary theories, a prominent case being Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis applying to internal monologue and stream of consciousness technique in literary theory. In either ways, students taking this course will have access to the facts and statistics in the academic field of psychology as well as its efficient research methods that will do them good in the sense of interdisciplinary approaches. As is mentioned in Psychology and Life:
Psychologists share many interests with researchers in biological sciences, especially with those who study brain processes and the biochemical bases of behavior. As part of the emerging area of cognitive science, psychologists’ questions about how the human mind works are related to research and theory in computer science, artificial intelligence, and applied mathematics. As a health science — with links to medicine, education, law, and environmental studies — psychology seeks to improve the quality of each individual’s and the collective’s well-being.
... find out more about this branch of science. Thus, I feel overall that psychology has a major potential to help us understand what ... 't relate, we would see many contradictions between all the sciences. Psychology is used throughout today's society and in some cases ... , this is where the psychologist comes into play. Psychology by definition is, the science dealing with the mind and the mental and ...
Now that ITP is one of the selective courses for non-psychology majors in Fudan, the significance of the course is not manifest because it is not in high-demand by students. Those who are not obliged to take the course are likely to ignore it if they have no interest in it; and for those who choose the course, they are not as attentive as they may be in their major courses or other compulsory ones because they do not regard the course as important. As a result, lecturers have to resort to roll-calling (and the students are informed that once absent, their grades are to be in grave peril) or other measures to urge those lethargic and passive students to attend the classes.
There may be a possibility that even if the course is made compulsory, the result would make little difference provided the interests of students are not fully aroused, but one thing is certain that if it is made so, at least the course will gain more weight and it will spur the improvement of teaching facilities and administration that will put the lecturers’ teaching performances under stricter assessment. Compulsory courses require teaching staff be fully-equipped and bear more responsibilities. For instance, the lecturers of non-compulsory courses teach more randomly whereas for lectures of compulsory ones, they are expected to keep track of the students’ learning process in order to grade them objectively. Thus qualified classes are to some extent guaranteed. In turn, if the quality of the class is enhanced, there will certainly be more and more students who, with increasing interest, take this course.
Only by making ITP compulsory to all majors can its significance be aroused among students who have already in part been preoccupied by pop psychology and whose attitude towards the academic field of psychology is quite casual. Its implementation will not only result in the improvement of students’ life on campus but also in the overall enhancement of teaching facilities as well as pedagogic methods that will guarantee the quality of the class. It is high time that the ITP course was made compulsory in Fudan University.
... in the areas of psychology, teaching methods, teaching principles and teaching techniques. During teaching practice student teachers are like apprentices to ... end of lesson, interest of the students, discipline of class, use of black / white board, students’ notebooks and objectives ... offered in Pakistan. In all the programmes teaching practice is compulsory component except M. Ed (Master of ...
1. “Psychology.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
2. Gillian Butler. Psychiatry: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000
3. Richard J. Gerrig, and Philip G. Zimbardo. Psychology and Life. 17th ed. Beijing: Peking UP, 2005