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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
December 20, 2014
 
 
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Faculty of Science

Psychology professors bring lab-style experience to large lectures through interactive technology

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Apr 16/14

When facing a lecture hall with 400 seats, it can be challenging to engage every student. Two introductory psychology professors at Laurier have found a way to use students’ own digital devices to engage them with course material. 

Last month, professors Joanne Lee and Eileen Wood in Laurier’s Department of Psychology piloted an innovative online psychology lab program called Deckchair Learning Systems in an effort to introduce students to critical content and scientific methods. 

The software was developed by Jeff Graham, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with Allan Sura, CEO and Creative Director of Deckchair. It offers a lab-style experience to larger lectures by getting students to participate simultaneously in hands-on activities using their laptop or mobile device. 

Lee and Wood ran demonstrations in their classes that allowed students to participate in two psychological exercises; one to determine whether the students have an unconscious bias towards traditional gender roles, and another to examine the impact of meditation on memory and performance. By answering questions simultaneously through the Deckchair software — using the laptop, smartphone or tablet they would bring to class anyway — the students produced instant dynamic results for the experiment, which they then analyzed.  

“It is challenging to provide relevant experience in the methods of our discipline in large introductory psychology classes,” said Wood. “This unique platform allows students to engage individually with the software and interactively in subsequent group work that incorporates the findings with their reflections and understanding of the content.” 

“First-year students often miss critical learning opportunities such as lab work when they are in these large courses,” said Lee. “This software augments learning and makes learning tangible as students learn from first hand experience with their own outcomes and the summarized outcomes from all of their peers.”

This pilot project will lay the groundwork for inclusion of these innovative teaching tools in the coming academic year.  

For more information on Deckchair Learning Systems, click here


 

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