In 2012, the Social Psychology Network Action Teaching Award was won by Jennifer S. Hunt of Buffalo State College for her entry "Changing the World, $5 at a Time, Through a Grant Assignment." The award comes with $1,000 in prize money and a one-year Sustaining Membership in Social Psychology Network.
For details on the winning entry as well as other excellent entries that received Honorable Mention, please see below. Instructors are welcome to use or adapt these teaching ideas for their own classes, provided the use is noncommercial and appropriate credit is given to the individuals below. To see other award-winning entries, please use the pulldown menu below.
To (1) strengthen academic skills involving library research, persuasive writing, and oral communication; (2) understand social problems related to women, gender, and sexuality; (3) learn how to identify and evaluate effective interventions for social problems; (4) achieve greater self-efficacy about contributing to social change and justice
In this action teaching assignment, students make an optional $5 donation to create a "grant fund" for addressing an important social problem related to gender or sexuality. Each student then identifies a specific problem of interest, such as lack of education for girls in developing nations, human trafficking, or the bullying of GLBT youth. Next, students conduct library research about the scope and causes of their chosen problem, identify effective interventions, and write a mini-grant proposal advocating that the collected money be used to fund a particular intervention. In the last phase of the assignment, students briefly summarize their proposal in an oral presentation to the class, after which they vote to decide which proposal should receive the pooled grant money. Once the class has selected a grant proposal for funding, the money is donated to an organization that carries out the intervention identified by the student, and a letter accompanying the donation explains how the organization was selected and includes the names of all class members who donated funds.
To help students learn about: (1) research methods, (2) children's development, (3) healthy living, (4) their community, and (5) themselves
This field experience, designed for students interested in developmental psychology, begins with the class visiting a local children's museum to see what topics are covered and identify an unmet need. For example, given the prevalence of childhood obesity and diabetes, the class might choose "Healthy Living" as a theme if the museum doesn't already cover health, exercise, and nutrition. Next, class members research what is known about the chosen topic (e.g., young children's understanding of their bodies, food, and exercise), and identify age-appropriate learning objectives related to the topic. Students then form teams of 2-6 members based on shared interests in a specific subtopic, and each team develops, designs, constructs, and installs a museum exhibit to teach children about the selected subtopic. In the last part of the field experience, students write an essay reflecting on what they learned from their project.
To help students (1) understand how social psychological principles can be used to address a social problem; (2) learn how to design, implement, and evaluate a behavior change project; (3) develop their writing and oral presentation skills; and (4) make a genuine contribution to the quality of life at their college or university
The main idea behind this action teaching assignment is that students design, implement, and assess a behavior change project to improve the quality of life on campus. In the first phase, the class identifies feasible behavioral interventions that apply social psychological principles. Students then work in teams to develop their project, presenting a preliminary version to the class for feedback and drafting an action research proposal that (1) describes the intervention, (2) explains why it should work, and (3) discusses how the outcome will be assessed. Once these proposals are approved, the teams implement their intervention, evaluate its effectiveness, and present the results at a research poster session that is widely publicized and open to the public. After the poster session, each student caps off the experience by writing an APA-style research report that describes the project and its results.
To help students: (1) understand intersectionality and the ways that multiple identities can interact to create social inequalities, (2) become more aware of intersectionality in their own life, and (3) develop prosocial teaching skills by educating others about different types of intersectionality
Intersectionality is a feminist sociological theory that describes how biological, social, and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, and other dimensions of identity interact to create social inequality. In this action teaching assignment, known as the "Intersections of Identity Education Project," students learn about intersectionality and carry out a public education project that teaches others about the ways that intersectionality can lead to social injustice. These projects, which are developed with feedback from community members whose identity they concern, include videos, documentaries, games, workshops, handouts, and other educational materials. Once students have developed these materials and activities, they use them in a public education project and then write a paper connecting their project to course readings, theory, and concepts. The paper also includes feedback from the community and a discussion of what the student learned.
To help students (1) understand the management and accounting issues that not-for-profit organizations face, (2) learn how to critically evaluate grant proposals and presentations, and (3) become aware of the social needs in their community and effective strategies to address them
Business students often learn about management and accounting in a way that focuses on dollars and profitability. We decided to take an action teaching approach that instead focused on social needs in the community. In a philanthropy-oriented assignment, classes were given $500-$4,000 to distribute to not-for-profit organizations in any way they felt would do the greatest good. To carry out this assignment, students formed 6-8 person teams based on a problem of common concern (e.g., homelessness). Each team then generated a list of 12 potential grant recipients on their topic and confirmed that the non-profits would submit a proposal if invited. Next, the class wrote "Request for Proposals" (RFP) guidelines and scored each grant proposal they received using criteria that they had earlier developed. Once the proposals were scored, students chose three non-profits to receive funds, and they invited each organization to give a presentation to the class. After these presentations, students decided how best to allocate the funds, wrote a reflection paper using concepts from the course, and attended a banquet with the grant recipients to award the donations and celebrate the learning experience.