A Tutor's View, Psychology

DD317 Advancing Social Psychology: A Tutor’s View

We continue our series in which Associate Lecturers introduce Psychology and Counselling modules that they tutor. Today’s module is DD317 Advancing Social Psychology, introduced by Judith Horne.

Hi. I’m Judith, and I’ve been tutoring Psychology modules for 12 years. I have been an Associate Lecturer on DD317 since it began in 2017. I consider myself very privileged to work for the Open University and share my passion for social psychology with our diverse and often very talented students. Social psychology is an area of psychology that looks at the relationship between the person and the social context and the complexities involved in this combination.  

What do you like about this module? 

DD317 is a third level module and as such, teaches students to think carefully about what it means to think and ‘do’ social psychology. In my opinion, learning to think is what education should be about and this module focuses on argument, debate and considering the problems and strengths in current psychology. I like the breadth and variety of topics on DD317, such as globalisation, post-feminism and what it means to live in a neo-liberal society. I also enjoy engaging in discussion with the students on the core themes in the module, such as ‘challenging universals’ and ‘challenging academic psychology’.

What do you like about tutoring on the module? 

I really enjoy helping students engage with critical thinking and encounter challenges to some of their prior assumptions of what social psychology is and/ or should be. It’s great to see students take an interest in the social world and its relationship to ourselves and others. The module encourages students to be open-minded, not only about their chosen subject but about themselves and society and culture as a whole.

This year we are moving to an EMA so I am looking forward to seeing how students relate module materials to real world issues. Students have some practice on this in the module when they do their TMAs so the EMA will give students the opportunity to bring together their learning over the course of the module.

What do students find interesting about DD317 ?

Students find the variety of ways of looking at the world we live in interesting. The multiple research approaches are also something students find fascinating and this can spark interests which can spill over into future research ideas.

In terms of topics, students tend to enjoy the material on contemporary work, gender and ‘happiness’. Some students engage particularly well with the political side of the module and are interested in areas like activism. Others enjoy learning about how Freudian theory has been adapted and used in modern-day social psychoanalysis.

Some enjoy building on their knowledge of critical psychology. Critical psychology examines power relations in society and psychology itself, questioning the taken-for-granted ‘norms’ that underly much of our social and academic behaviour.  

What’s the particular benefit of DD317 for a student working towards a psychology qualification?

One thing the module really does is to help students with independent research skills. This is useful for students who will be undertaking their own research in the future, at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The module also really helps students to develop an enquiring mind which is vital in academic study, and life more generally.

The students also undertake discussions on forums related to their own personal research and reading. This is valuable in both learning how to interact with peers in an academic setting (which will be useful for students who pursue an academic career) and in building employability skills (as so much of our interaction is now based online).

What do some students find challenging?

Some students find the level of critical thinking challenging in the module. It can be difficult for students to accept that there is no right or wrong way of looking at phenomena, but lots of different perspectives and approaches. Once students do start to see this though, and engage with thinking on different levels of analysis, they do find it very rewarding.

What’s your advice for students who are starting DD317 ?

My top tip for students is to try to set aside your prior knowledge and/ or expectations of ‘what psychology is’. Enter with an enquiring mind. Expect the work to be difficult, as this is third level, but also expect to be challenged and rewarded with a real appreciation of the complexities of the world we live in and research.

Anything else?

Students should have confidence in their own (informed) ideas and enjoy becoming a more independent learner, but they should also remember that their tutor is there to help too.

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