Speaking of Education

APA’s Committee of Psychology Teachers at Community Colleges (PT@CC) has a lot to be excited about these days. Much national focus has been brought on community colleges in the last few months, including:

  • President Obama’s Investing in Education: American Graduation Initiative, an historic effort aimed at strengthening the nation’s community colleges and graduating an additional five million students from these institutions by 2020.

  • The first White House Summit on Community Colleges hosted on Oct. 5 by Dr. Jill Biden, which highlighted the critical role that community colleges play in developing America’s work force and reaching our educational goals.

  • The Oct. 1 Second Annual Community College Day at the National Institutes of Health, which provided community college students and faculty an opportunity to visit the NIH campus and to learn about careers and training opportunities in biomedical and health-care fields.

All of these events create significant opportunities for PT@CC to share its important work with educators as well as the nation at large. PT@CC was established in 2001 to provide professional development and leadership opportunities to community college faculty and students and to educate the public about the importance of community colleges for meeting the educational as well as economic needs of the larger society.

One of PT@CC’s top priorities is meeting the challenges proposed by the American Graduation Initiative and the White House Summit on Community Colleges, such as increasing the number of college students who complete an associate’s degree. PT@CC aims to demonstrate how the science of psychology can be used to bolster student success and to motivate students to achieve their educational and professional goals.

Last year, a national survey conducted by PT@CC found that the breadth of course offerings and the formats for teaching at community colleges has expanded, and there is a slight increase in the number of psychology teachers who hold doctoral degrees. Enrollment is up at community colleges and there appears to be a great demand for psychology courses at community colleges.

To build a network of psychology teachers, PT@CC has offered programming at regional and national meetings and teaching conferences. PT@CC has created an “Adjunct Faculty Guide” (PDF, 1.56MB) to provide teaching resources for adjunct faculty, who are more often hired by community colleges to teach. This year, PT@CC has broadened its focus to include an emphasis on how its members promote the science of psychology through their teaching and research. PT@CC created an “IRB Guidebook”  to facilitate the development of research opportunities for community college students, many of whom will transfer to colleges and universities to pursue bachelor’s degrees in psychology.

Next year, PT@CC plans to develop a new resource guide on “Setting Up a Community College Psychology Lab.” PT@CC looks forward to showcasing community college psychology labs, such as those at Mesa Community College (Arizona) and Naugatuck Valley Community College (Connecticut), as models for the teaching of psychological science.

PT@CC has also created a series of APA PsyCHATs, envisioned as an online interactive “fireside chat” with distinguished psychologists who can answer questions about their research and teaching experiences. On Jan. 25, PT@CC hosted the first PsyCHAT, entitled “A Conversation with David Myers.” For more information, go to Psychology Teachers at Community Colleges.

PT@CC will help APA achieve many of its goals as delineated in the new strategic plan. One of the most important of these goals is to enhance the public’s image of psychology as a science. Community colleges — which provide education to half of all students enrolled in higher education — will continue to provide a vital service to our discipline and our nation.

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