Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

SPN Action Teaching Award

SPN Action Teaching Award    More than a half-century ago, social psychologist Kurt Lewin coined the term "action research" to describe research aimed at solving social problems. In the words of Lewin, "Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice."

In a similar spirit, the annual Social Psychology Network Action Teaching Award recognizes "action teaching" that leads not only to a better understanding of human behavior but to a more just, compassionate, and peaceful world. To read more about action teaching, please see:

Award entries may include classroom activities, field experiences, student assignments, or web-based tutorials and demonstrations. For information on previous winners, use the pulldown menu below.

Note: An action teaching award will not be given in 2016 -- please visit this page in late 2016 for details on the 2017 award.

Purpose of the Award

The SPN Action Teaching Award has two main purposes. First, it is intended to honor innovative efforts at action teaching. Second, it is designed to disseminate effective action teaching techniques and materials to a wide audience. Accordingly, award-winning examples of action teaching will be featured in SPN, and action teaching materials will be made freely available.

Description of Prize

The winner will receive a prize of $1,000 and a free one-year membership in Social Psychology Network (or a one-year extension if the applicant is already a member). An announcement of the winner's entry will also be featured prominently in SPN.

In addition, a limited number of entries will receive Honorable Mention. Applicants receiving Honorable Mention will receive a free one-year membership (or extension of membership) in SPN, and their entries will also be publicly listed.

Eligibility of Entries

The award is open to all instructors regardless of student level (e.g., K-12, high school, college, or adult learners). Entries may focus on the individual, group, or societal level and may address any major social issue, including prejudice, social injustice, conflict, crime, poverty, hunger, public health, the environment, animal cruelty, and domestic violence, among others. To illustrate the kind of action teaching that might be submitted, here are a few examples related to prejudice reduction:

For information and examples of service learning, which often combines field experience and action teaching, see:

Award Criteria

A panel of teaching experts appointed by SPN will conduct a blind review of entries. In this review, entries will be judged on the degree to which they:

  1. Clearly and completely describe the teaching item
  2. Explain how the item embodies action teaching
  3. Show originality and quality in design and execution
  4. Help students learn firsthand about human behavior
  5. Contribute to the betterment of individuals and society
  6. Lend themselves to widespread adoption by others
  7. Provide evidence of pedagogical effectiveness
  8. Discuss potential pitfalls, variations, and implications

Instructors do not need to teach social psychology, and entries do not need to meet all criteria to be considered for an award (e.g., there may be cases in which an excellent classroom activity has not been formally assessed). Nonetheless, all criteria are potentially relevant to the panel's review.

Award Restrictions

Entries may be submitted by any instructor who holds a graduate degree or is currently enrolled in a graduate program, living in any country, as long as the entry is submitted in English (instructors do not need to be employed in higher education). The only other restrictions are as follows:

  • Applicants may not submit more than one entry per year
  • Previous award winners may not apply for a second award
  • Only single items may be entered (e.g., a specific activity, not a full course)

Application Process and Deadline

All entries must be submitted through the online application form. If you wish to include non-text materials with your entry (e.g., an image or video clip), please post them on the Internet and provide the web address in your application. If you are unable to post supplemental materials on the web, you may send them by postal mail to:

Social Psychology Network
Department of Psychology
207 High Street
Wesleyan University
Middletown, CT 06459

Notification of Award

All applicants will be notified of the award decision via email within four months of the submission deadline.

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