Journeys to psychology: Different perspectives on pre-tertiary teaching of psychology in Europe

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Description: Symposium presented at EUROPLAT 2017 European Psychology Learning & Teaching Conference September 18 – 20, Salzburg, Austria Abstract: In secondary schools in many European countries, psychology is a popular subject. Pre-university, or pre-tertiary, psychology education (PTPE) has become well-established and popular, as school students find it an interesting, enjoyable and useful subject. A proportion of school students go on to university to study psychology, while some study other disciplines, and others go into employment or training. Thus they experience different kinds of “journeys to psychology”. Curricula and pedagogies in PTPE vary between countries too. Similarly, teachers of psychology make their way into this career via diverse routes, and this seems to be the case in psychology more so than for teachers of other subjects. Psychology educators claim the subject has great value in terms of helping young people develop a wide range of skills as a sound basis for progression to higher education, training or employment. It is also asserted that learning psychology at school builds psychological literacy, such that students acquire ‘life skills’ which can support their mental health wellbeing throughout the lifespan. In this symposium, we present research into different aspects of PTPE in Europe, using a variety of methodologies and involving a range of stakeholders: teachers, headteachers, psychologists, and pre-tertiary students, from several countries. Our findings add to the sparse literature on PTPE by providing insights into the diverse “journeys” experienced by psychology students and teachers in Europe’s schools.

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