We teach aspects of the psychology of motivated behaviors using the "problem-based" and "structured activity-learning" methods that are rapidly gaining credence as effective instructional approaches, especially in teaching medicine-related courses. Our approach with this text attempts to: provide students with structured challenges; foster independent thought by encouraging students to solve the challenges without external aid; allow students to attempt to solve the challenges as they see fit; emphasize that the number of different approaches made in solution of the posed challenges is often far more important than the speed or accuracy with which the solution is arrived at; and provide ample encouragement.
We do not spoon-feed students, but expect them to fend for themselves. This text is terse; some of the questions posed are ambiguous; some information may be missing; there is a proscription against seeking aid except in discourse with fellow students; there is a lack of supplemental explanations; there are no summaries or teaching objectives in the text; rather the student is asked to supply and deduce these, respectively...In short, we are standing current accepted practice on its head.
It works. In fact, many students find the experience, though very demanding, also liberating, energizing and empowering. Their intellectual capabilities are respected and their problem-solving abilities developed. This is what they expected higher education to be about.
..."he encourages his students to guide their own thinking rather than just rote memorization." Anonymous (1997)
"It was challenging to be in a psyc course where critical thinking, integration of topics and understanding, as opposed to rote memorization, were emphasized." Anonymous (1997)
"Emphasis on individual thought and communication w[ith] classmates led to a good (and probably long-lasting) understanding of the material. In addition, the classroom discussion was interactive and led to a high degree of interest and enjoyment." Anonymous (1999)
"I really appreciated the problem-based learning and group work format of the course, as well as the interesting course material. This course has contributed considerably to my understanding of psychology..." Anonymous (1999)
"This is the end of my fourth year, and I have never spent so much effort on one course; nor have I enjoyed one more." Anonymous (2002)