Psyched for STEM: Integrating psychology as a science in elementary education

Tifani Fletcher, Audrey Eisel, Melesa Swartz

Abstract


Policymakers and the public have a complicated view of psychology. Few laypeople think of psychology as a science, which makes it difficult for psychologists to get funding from programs aimed at supporting STEM. The American Psychological Association created a task force to address this and they have recommended goals to enhance psychology’s prominence as a STEM discipline. This includes but is not limited to: improved public understanding of the scientific basis for psychology, increase, through pedagogic collaboration and scholarly engagement, psychology’s involvement with other STEM disciplines, and expand educational resources and opportunities in psychological science. For many adults, there is an implicit and negative stereotype that assumes that you are either a “smart” science person, or you are not, known as a fixed mindset. One way to negate this false attitude from continuing is to engage people early and often regarding the vast range of activities and opportunities that STEM education provides, psychology included. It is important that children have multiple opportunities to engage in STEM related activities throughout their formal education. Evidence is accumulating that this exposure to STEM activities, especially by educators of diverse backgrounds and disciplines, is helping to encourage and build confidence in kids regarding their abilities to pursue STEM related careers (i.e. Draw A Scientist studies). This presentation will discuss implementation and outcomes of a multi-year interdisciplinary and community collaboration of inclusion of psychology as a STEM in an elementary school setting. We will also offer suggestions for future endeavors in meeting the APA taskforce goals.  


Keywords


Psychology; STEM; Elementary students;

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