Am I studying Psychology or Information

Okay, this is a question that I have: is the practise of trying to intensely internalise lots of information really going to make me into a psychologist?

And let me present another situation too: we’re all told that to pass an exam with a first, it is important to do extra reading, show novel thought and all the rest of it. Then we’re typically given 5x two hour lectures with power-point notes representing 200 pages of book which, if I understand rightly, I am to read and fully understand and be able to recall so as to be able to answer the test questions.

I do not believe that reading large amounts is an effective way to really be the master of this knowledge. I suppose when it comes to learning for exams, I think of what my father, and others have taught me, which is to make many notes from what I read and hear during my study, from which I can revise then through means such as flash cards, testing myself, simply re-reading or hand copying down notes and so forth. That to me makes the difference between studying and mere reading.

When I get down into the process of studying, which I try to do by taking the lecture slides, the course literature and my iPad for note taking, and seek to read, compare the slides with the literature and then write down in my own words what is being taught, it turns the study process into something drastically longer, and given that I have never yet completed this activity in the way I’d have hoped to, the time, and the ability to remain focused in a manor that is generally fruitful for learning doesn’t seem to be there.

I believe that things are best learned when put into practise. As an I.T. enthusiast, I have learnt to program through practise using books and guides, which had lead me to know how to program web pages, fix computers and enjoy research methods (stats). I became a fluent German speaker in the small space of 1 year through the study of a textbook, but then the putting it into practise, living in that country. And for that reason, I aren’t thoroughly convinced this is the best way to actually learn the subject at hand.

Clearly something in it works, because classes are essentially taught the same way all over the world, and have been taught that way even since my parents did their degrees. But I don’t think these modules are making psychologists, they are assessing who is good at regurgitating information under test conditions.

You could say these exams aren’t valid. Do they measure what they claim to measure? What do they claim to measure? Competence in handling matters related to developmental psychology? To some extent I’d say probably, yes.

But I believe if I were to take a more hands on approach, by participating in research straight off, seeing more replications of research, instead of being given a block of text, and immersing myself in it, like I did with German and programming, I would become a psychologist, and not the walking Wikipedia.

I’m sure that’s rich of me, a mere undergrad, to be calling change in the way education is carried out, but I believe there is much capacity for improvement, and I would like to find out how it could be done.

Comments, both positive and negative are gladly welcomed!

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