Update on the revision of the APA guidelines for the undergraduate psychology major

Task force proposed a new draft of the guidelines for APA governance groups to review

At its March 2011 meeting, the APA Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) approved the nominees to the second BEA Task Force on Psychology Major Competencies for the first revision of the “Guidelines for the Undergraduate Major in Psychology” (APA, 2006). BEA appointed the following task force members: Jane Halonen, PhD (University of West Florida), chair; William Buskist, PhD (Auburn University); Dana Dunn, PhD (Moravian University); Carolyn Enns, PhD (Cornell College); James Freeman, PhD (University of Virginia); G. William Hill IV, PhD (Kennesaw State University); Nadine Kaslow, PhD (Emory University); Eric Landrum, PhD (Boise State University); Maureen McCarthy, PhD (Kennesaw State University); Jerry Rudmann, PhD (Irvine Valley College); and Michael Stoloff, PhD (James Madison University).

Jane Halonen, PhD, discussed the topic of “Refining Expectations for the Undergraduate Psychology Major” with participants during a session at the 2012 ELCThe task force met in April 2012 and developed a framework for revising the guidelines. The task force considered important feedback on the guidelines gleaned from surveys of various groups (i.e., the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, the Association of Heads of Departments of Psychology, and the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology) that represent a broad cross-section of organizations in psychology. The task force examined the success of the implementation of the original document and made appropriate changes to reflect emerging best practices and to integrate psychology's work with other relevant benchmarking activities in higher education. The revised draft of the guidelines describes five goals for the undergraduate major that represent more robust learning and assessment activity in psychology programs.

The revised the guidelines includes developmental levels of student learning outcomes at a “foundation” level, which represents the completion of approximately the first four courses in the major, and at a “baccalaureate” level, which represents expectations for achievement at the conclusion of an undergraduate program. Another major change in the guidelines is an emphasis on psychology as a strong liberal arts preparation for assuming a position in the professional workforce after graduation.

At the 2012 Education Leadership Conference, Jane Halonen, PhD, gave a presentation on “Promoting Quality: Why Quality Matters.” ELC participants had an opportunity to preview the draft of the revised the guidelines in a discussion group on “Refining Expectations for the Undergraduate Psychology Major.”

The task force sent its first draft to the BEA in November 2012. The revised the guidelines document will be circulated to APA governance groups for review and comment in March 2013. Later, a call for public comment will be disseminated broadly.